Arabica vs. Robusta: What’s the Difference?

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    Differences between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

    A true coffee lover will be able to tell the difference between the taste of Arabica and Robusta coffee. Even though the coffee beans look similar to one another when ground, there are quite a few differences between the two. For coffee enthusiasts, learning about how growing conditions and the composition of each plant affect the taste is interesting and engaging.


    Each variety has special qualities that give the coffee that is brewed a unique flavor. They are both coffee beans, but they are two different species. Here are the characteristics of each for comparison.

    Quality of Taste

    People who prefer to drink a stronger and more bitter variety of coffee are likely to prefer using Robusta beans. There is a slight hint of nuttiness and grainy overtones for an earthy blend. Arabica beans are more popular with coffee drinkers who enjoy a smoother taste with a light touch of floral, sweetness and softness.

    Growing Conditions

    Robusta coffee plants are larger than Arabica plants. They grow taller and produce higher yields of coffee beans per plant. They also require more moisture to thrive. A Robusta shrub can grow between 8 and 21 feet in height while the Arabica, which needs less water, grows between 8 and 15 feet in height. The temperature conditions needed for Arabica plants are cooler than their Robusta counterparts. Because the plants produce fewer beans over their lifetime, the Arabica plants are more expensive to purchase. Robusta plants are much heartier than Arabica varieties. When the two are compared side by side, Robusta plants have a sturdier disposition.

    Differences in the Shape of the Bean

    Robusta beans are slightly smaller in size, and have a rounded shape. Arabica beans are larger and have a longer shape. The differences in the structure of the bean cause them to respond to heat differently. When you roast the beans side by side under identical conditions, you’ll notice that the two beans do not roast at the same rate, or at the same level. When the two different beans are roasted and then ground, it is more difficult to tell them apart visually.

    Variations in Compounds and Chemistry

    Robusta beans have twice the levels of caffeine as those found in Arabica beans, as well as twice the amount of chlorogenic acid (CGA). Both of these ingredients help to contribute to the overall taste and quality of brewed coffees. The sugar and lipids are 60% higher in Arabica varieties. The sugar levels influence the evolving flavor of the bean as it roasts, and it is a key factor in the development of aroma and the body of the beverage.

    Internal Structure and Pollination Variations

    There are 44 chromosomes in Arabica beans, while Robusta beans only have 22. While Arabica self pollinates, the Robusta does not. The Arabica is therefore less inclined to produce any mutations, and is more likely to retain its integrity.

    There are many different varieties of coffee beans, and they are grown in a variety of climates in regions around the world. Arabica and Robusta are the two most popular. This is because each delivers a unique experience with regard to the aroma and flavor of the finished product. Whether you prefer a strong and nutty taste or a lighter, more floral and smooth beverage, knowing what each type has to offer will help you when you’re trying to decide which type of coffee would most closely suit your tastes.

    As with any variety of coffee beans, the strength of the brew will affect the flavor on a grand scale. Finer grounds and using a higher coffee-to-water ratio will result in a stronger beverage regardless of the type of bean used. If you want a smoother cup, simply use the recommended amount of coffee grounds and grind level to achieve the flavor that you want.

    You may never look at coffee the same way again. You may have wondered by the aroma and taste of one brand is so different from another. Now you know!

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