What’s the Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee?

Justin Goldstein • December 15, 2020 • 3 min read

Coffee Arabica

Fun Fact, Not All Coffee Comes From The Same Plant!

There are two main species of coffee plants that grow the beans you find at your local coffee shop or grocery store, Arabica and Robusta. These two plants produce coffees that look, taste, and smell very different from one another. Here’s what you should know about Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee.

What is Arabica Coffee?

Arabica coffee comes from the Coffea arabica plant. This is the most popular coffee in the world and accounts for the vast majority (60-70%) of consumption. Arabica coffee must grow in specific subtropical environments at high elevations. Since Arabica is a relatively fragile crop, it requires the right soil, sun, shade and moisture to flourish. This coffee is grown across the world but is the primary species in Latin America.

The higher acidity and sugar content of Arabica allows for unrivaled flavor complexity and sweetness that is praised by the coffee community. With that said, there is no specific taste profile associated with Arabica as variables such as varietal, process and roast, among other factors, all play a major role. Since specialty grade Arabica coffee is in such high demand and fetches top dollar in the marketplace, it is usually scrutinized under much more rigorous quality standards than Robusta. If you buy coffee from a specialty roaster, I’d bet my money that you’re drinking Arabica.

What is Robusta Coffee?

Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea canephora plant. This is the primary coffee grown in parts of Africa and Indonesia that grows at low elevations. Farmers like Robusta as it is hearty and much easier to cultivate than Arabica with less vulnerability to pests and weather conditions. Also, Robusta produces coffee cherry much quicker and yields more fruit per tree.

When it comes to taste, Robusta has a poor reputation for its overpowering strength and harsh bitterness. Since Robusta is generally much less expensive, it can often be found in cheap grocery store coffee cans, instant coffee, or some espresso blends. In many developing countries, this is the primary type of coffee they drink.

What is Better Arabica or Robusta?

Most third wave coffee shops exclusively serve Arabica. If you ask a bunch of coffee geeks this question, the answer will be unanimous in favor of Arabica. The quality focus from farm to cup of specialty Arabica coffees is unlike that of Robusta. With that said, I have noticed some higher quality Robusta coffees starting to gain traction, but as far as I’m concerned, the two are far from being treated as equal. If you want a great cup that doesn’t need to be loaded with cream and sugar to be palatable, I would stick with Arabica.



Are There Reasons to Drink Robusta?

While Arabica is much more desirable than Robusta, there are a few situations where Robusta can be preferred. Robusta has far more caffeine, sometimes twice as much, so if you’re in need of a major caffeine jolt, a Robusta blend can be your friend. Also, Robusta creates beautiful crema on top of espresso that is superior to Arabica. If you’re a big fan of crema and enjoy that specific mouthfeel, then a small percentage of Robusta in your espresso blend might be preferred. Lastly, if you’re making a regional drink like Vietnamese iced coffee, you might want to stay true to the culture and use Robusta, as it can be delicious when cut with sweetened condensed milk.

Why Does Bruvi Only Use Arabica Coffee?

As a coffee-first company, we only want to put the finest coffees in our B-Pods®. For that reason, Bruvi® exclusively uses Arabica Coffee. You will not find any Robusta coffee making its way into our blends to cut costs, rather only the finest specialty grade, high elevation Arabica’s the world has to offer. Coffee over everything!

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