Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by John Moretti
Arabica and Robusta coffee beans make up the vast majority of coffee production and consumption internationally. Both coffee types are well known for their unique attributes, but how do they compare directly?
Arabica is sweeter with fruity tones. Robusta is darker, more intense, and more bitter. Arabica is more expensive but generally higher quality and more versatile. Robusta is used as filler in coffee blends. High-end Robusta is desirable for espresso and has significantly higher caffeine content.
These two types of coffee are the most widely used coffees in the world. Comparing them is important, but it is first vital to understand the ins and outs of both coffee types. Let’s put Arabica and Robusta coffee beans under the microscope to see how they compare.
How Does Arabica And Robusta Coffee Compare?
All of the information above feel daunting to take in. Comparing these two coffee greats can be a challenge. For these reasons, here is a table directly comparing the main comparison points for Arabica and Robusta coffee beans:
|Higher sugar content||Lower sugar content|
|Higher oil content||Lower oil content|
|More acidic||Less acidic|
|Sweet, fruity, softer flavor tones||Bitter, earthy, woody flavor tones|
|More expensive||Less expensive|
|More difficult to grow||Easier to grow|
|Susceptible to pests||Not susceptible to pests|
|Grown in higher altitudes||Grown in lower altitudes|
|Lower bean yield per tree||Higher bean yield per tree|
|1.5% caffeine concentration||2.7% caffeine concentration|
|Grown mostly in Latin America||Grown in Africa and Indonesia|
|More versatile||Less versatile|
|Accounts for 70% of coffee consumption||Accounts for 25% of coffee consumption|
|Generally higher quality||Generally lower quality|
|Weaker coffee||Stronger coffee, favored for espresso|
|Used for single-origin coffee||Primarily used in blends|
|Higher in antioxidants when medium or dark roasted||Higher in antioxidants when lightly roasted|
What Is The Difference Between Arabica And Robusta Coffee?
Robusta and Arabica are the two most prominent types of coffee beans grown worldwide. These two types of coffee beans account for almost all of the coffee consumed internationally. If these two coffee types are both so widely used and grown, what is the difference between them?
Arabica beans are sweeter and lighter than Robusta beans. Robusta beans are heavier, darker, more bitter, and contain more caffeine than Arabica beans. Arabica beans are more expensive and far more difficult to cultivate than Robusta. Arabica is generally of higher quality than Robusta.
These are the most important differences between these two coffee types, but let’s take a closer look and find out how different these coffees really are.
Arabica coffee beans, despite their name, are primarily grown in Latin America, though some varieties are grown in Africa, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, and India.
This type of coffee is significantly sweeter than Robusta and much easier to drink. Arabica coffee beans are known for their light, zesty, and sweet flavor and tones of fruit, berries, and sugar.
These beans contain more oil and sugar than Robusta beans, which results in a much lighter mouthfeel and an easier drinking experience.
Arabica beans account for 70% of all coffee consumed internationally. These beans are considered to be much higher quality than Robusta, and their flavor profile makes them much more palatable.
This type of coffee is much more versatile than Robusta and is therefore used more readily than Robusta coffee.
Another attribute of Arabica coffee beans is that they are significantly more difficult to grow and cultivate than Robusta beans. Arabica trees produce less fruit than Robusta trees, and they are more challenging to grow.
Arabica trees grow in high altitudes, and they are less hardy than the Robusta coffee bean tree. Arabica is more susceptible to pests and requires much more attention than Robusta trees.
The challenging growing requirements and the low yield of Arabica trees, coupled with the high demand for this flavorful coffee, results in a higher price. Arabica coffee is significantly more expensive to buy than Robusta.
Robusta coffee is much darker and heavier than Arabica beans. This coffee tastes more bitter and is not as easy to drink as Arabica coffee. Robusta accounts for 25% of international coffee production and consumption.
Robusta Beans have a woody, earthy, harsh taste and are much stronger than Arabica beans. Robusta beans contain a higher concentration of caffeine than Arabica beans and taste far stronger as a result. Some Robusta coffee varieties are known to have a peanut aftertaste.
Robusta is grown in the eastern hemisphere, primarily in Africa and Indonesia. These trees are much more hardy than Arabica trees, grow in lower altitudes, require less attention, and produce more fruit in far less time compared to Arabica trees.
These trees are hardy, robust, fast-growing, high-yielding, and due to their high caffeine content, are not susceptible to pests. This makes Robusta coffee much easier to cultivate than Arabica coffee.
The ways Robusta grows and the reputation that it has as inferior coffee results in a lower price. Robusta coffee is far less expensive than Arabica coffee.
These coffee beans are considered to be lower quality than Arabica beans and are primarily used as filler in coffee blends, instant coffee, and lower-quality coffee brands.
However, there are high-quality Robusta coffee beans that are very sought after for use in espresso. These beans are used in the finest Italian espresso blends and are praised for their rich crema and deep flavor profile.
Are Arabica Coffee Beans Better Than Robusta?
Robusta and Arabica coffee beans are the most widely used types of coffee. These two types of coffee beans account for 95% of all coffee produced and used worldwide. With that in mind, many wonder if Arabica coffee beans are better than Robusta?
Arabica coffee beans are generally better for making a cup of coffee. Arabica beans produce a much more easy-drinking and more palatable cup of coffee. Arabica beans are typically higher quality than Robusta and are generally considered to be better beans.
The good reputation of Arabica coffee beans is warranted, but the name “Arabica” has come to be a stamp of high quality. However, that is not always true. Coffee is not necessarily high quality simply because it is labeled “Arabica.”
The quality of the coffee has far more to do with how it is grown, how it is roasted and processed, and how it is made into a cup of drinking coffee than it has to do with the exact species of tree that the bean came from.
Most Arabica coffee bean varieties are generally higher quality than the majority of Robusta beans, but there are Robusta varieties that are incredibly high quality as well.
Generally, Arabica beans are better than Robusta beans in terms of taste, versatility, and quality, but there are a few stand-out Robusta bean varieties that compete with Arabica beans.
Are Robusta Coffee Beans Better Than Arabica?
These beans are so widely used that it is a challenge to find any other coffee varieties. Almost all of the coffee available on the market is either Arabica or Robusta beans. This leads many to ask the question, are Robusta coffee beans better than Arabica?
Robusta coffee beans are considered to be inferior to Arabica coffee beans. The flavor profile of Robusta beans does not lend itself to an easy-drinking experience. These beans taste intense, heavy, and bitter. There are Robusta bean varieties that are sought out for their high-quality flavor and perfect crema.
Robusta beans are generally far more bitter and harsh tasting than Arabica beans. Robusta is also known to be lower quality than Arabica due to the speed at which they grow, their flavor profile, and how hardy these plants are.
However, while most Robusta beans are used as filler in blends and instant coffee, there are Robusta varieties that give Arabica beans good competition.
High-quality Robusta beans are among the best quality beans in the world. These beans are very desirable and sought after, particularly for use in espresso.
The intense flavor of high-quality Robusta beans lends itself well to good espresso. These beans produce exceptional crema and are incredibly smooth, with a deep, rich flavor that is unmatched by any other bean.
These beans account for a good portion of high-end Italian espresso coffees.
In general, Robusta coffee beans are considered to be inferior to Arabica beans, but there are a handful of Robusta varieties that hold their own in the world of high-end coffee.
Why Use Arabica Or Robusta Beans Over The Other?
Both of these coffee types have their strengths and weaknesses. How is a coffee lover to know when to use which type of coffee? Why use Arabica or Robusta coffee bans instead of the other?
Arabica coffee beans are more versatile and can therefore be used for a wide variety of coffee drinks. These beans function well in all brewing methods. Robusta beans are less versatile, but high-quality Robusta is ideal for espresso. Robusta’s stronger flavor brings more taste to weaker drinks.
The versatile flavors present in Arabica beans make this type of coffee more well suited for a wide variety of coffee drinks and brewing methods.
Everything from Americano’s to cappuccinos are within the wheelhouse of Arabica beans. These beans do have a slightly weaker flavor when compared to Robusta beans, but this only serves to make the coffee drinks made with Arabica beans more palatable and easier to drink and enjoy.
Robusta beans are less versatile but whet they lack in versatility, they make up for in intensity.
Robusta beans can be added to Arabica beans to increase the flavor strength of the coffee and make the roast taste darker.
High-quality Robusta is ideal for espresso due to its deep flavor and excellent crema. The intense taste of these beans means that they will add more depth of flavor to weaker coffee drinks such as single-shot Cappuccino’s
The intense flavor of Robusta may be overwhelming in stringer drinks such as a Flat White.
Knowing when to use which type of coffee, which drink they should be used in, and which brewing method is best for each type is essential for getting the most out of your coffee.
Take the time to experiment with both types of coffee and find your favorite use for them both.
Which Beans Should You Use?
At the end of it all, this all boils down to which type of coffee beans you should use for your daily brew.
Arabica beans are lighter tasting with more subtle flavors and a more palatable profile. Robusta beans are far more intense and dark tasting, with more bitter tones. Arabica beans are easier to drink but weaker. Robusta beans are harsher but produce stronger drinks.
The coffee that you choose to use should be based entirely on your coffee preferences. If you prefer straight espresso, high-quality Robusta may be better for you. If your espresso drink of choice is a Flat White, Arabica will produce a better cup.
Experiment with various drinks using both types of beans to find the best beans for you based on your preferences, your budget, and the type of drink you prefer.
The Final Word
Arabica beans are generally better quality, but they are more expensive and weaker tasing.
Robusta beans are generally lower quality, but they are far stronger tasting and cheaper to buy.
These two coffee types both have their strong suits, but there is a reason why Arabica beans account for 70% of international coffee consumption.
It all comes down to your coffee preference. Choose the best beans for you, and you will never be disappointed with your daily brew!