We know that there are primarily two types of coffee beans used commercially- Robusta and Arabica. Arabica is known for its sweet taste, whereas Robusta is known for its bitter flavor.
If you go to your neighborhood coffee shop and order a cup of specialty coffee, the chances are that coffee will be made using Arabica coffee. However, this doesn’t mean Robusta coffee does not have a market. Robusta is used for making different coffee blends with Arabica, as well as for instant coffee.
If we talk about Robusta, we have to mention Brazil, as it is the largest Robusta coffee bean producer. More and more Brazilian farmers are switching to growing Robusta coffee in recent years and trying to exploit its market potential. In this article, we will learn about Robusta Coffee, the Robusta Specialty Coffee scene in Brazil, and how it is produced.
What Are The Qualities of Specialty Robusta Coffee?
If you think Robusta is the primary variety of Coffee grown in Brazil, you are wrong. Conilon, which is a sister variety of Robusta, is grown in equal volumes in Brazil. They both share similar characteristics and have similar taste profiles. However, when Brazil export their coffee harvest, they label both Robusta and Conilon as Robusta.
Then we have the Amazonia Robustas, which is the only coffee globally with a Geographical Indication Tag. This variety of coffee is grown in the deep jungles of the Amazon Rainforest.
Now let us look at the advantages of growing Robusta coffee beans. In the global coffee market, Robusta coffee beans are paid less than Arabica. But why do farmers then grow Robusta? Wouldn’t they be better off growing Arabica? Getting paid higher for the same amount of harvest must be greatly profitable.
To answer the above question, we have to look at the Robusta plant features. Robusta plants can grow in lands that have a lower altitude. You can grow them in lands where water created puddles after heavy rain.
Furthermore, Robusta coffee plants are highly adept at fending off various diseases carried by insects. Their immune system helps them grow and flourish at the most impossible of places. And last but not least, Robusta plants do not require intensive care. Farmers can plant and completely forget about them and only revisit the farm when it is time to harvest.
So these are the primary reasons why many farmers are still motivated to grow Robusta coffee. And it makes sense that Robusta is grown in higher volume in Brazil, as the country has vastly different geographic locations.
The Rise of Specialty Robusta in Brazil
When growing Robusta coffee, it is doubtful that farmers will be able to ensure a standard for all their harvest. This is because Robusta is a wild variant of coffee, and it grows naturally. This is why, if you order two cups of specialty Robusta coffee, there is a high probability that they will not taste the same.
In the earlier days, Robusta was never served as a single-origin blend. It was always used in a blend or served with milk to lighten the bitter taste. This is because Robusta has higher caffeine content than Arabica. Robusta has double the caffeine content as Arabica. For a regular drinker, that is a lot.
If you ask any expert, they will tell you the rise of Specialty Robusta in Brazil is relatively new. The Robusta growing community is still relatively low. And all the stakeholders in this community know each other. They help each other with various problems related to production and harvest. Furthermore, they share their knowledge on growing Robusta.
When looked through the broader lens, the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association is a crucial player that works to connect Specialty Robusta farmers worldwide, help them reach the global market, and educate them on perfecting the art of Robusta production.
Producing & Selling Specialty Robusta
Even though growing Robusta might be easier than growing any other coffee variety, it must go through a lengthy and vigorous processing step. This is because the flavor profile of Robusta is quite different than that of the Arabica variant. The slight amount of acidity, and sweetness it has, must be retained during the roasting step.
This is why most Robusta farmers in Brazil have their Roasting facility. Maintaining a roasting facility is quite expensive, but Robusta farmers can easily afford it, as they have little expenditure for growing it in the first place. Owning their Roasting facility enables them to research and develop the most suitable roasting technique for their harvest.
Before we conclude, let us share some helpful advice with you all. If you order a Specialty Robusta drink at a coffee shop, the barista will know how to brew this particular type of coffee variety properly. But if you have a home coffee bar and brewing Robusta for the first time in your life, always use a coarse grind and reduce the water temperature.
You need to do it because Robusta coffee has more soluble solids. This is why, if you take equal amounts of Arabica and Robusta, the former one will have a sweeter taste after going through a standard brew time. On the other hand, the Robusta variety will taste bitter for the same brew time.
So there you go, now you know the golden rule for brewing Specialty Robusta coffee. Good Luck, and do let us know if you need any more information regarding brewing Robusta coffee beans.