The coffee that we love to drink so much in the morning has a whole range of complexities when it comes to being processed to be ready for our table. Many of us do not know how the most popular beans differ, but learning a little about them is something that can change the way we think of and drink this common beverage. Knowing their characteristics will help you know how to mix types and amounts of beans, with some being sweeter than others until you get a flavor that your palate will love.
They come from 2 different plants.
The main difference between arabica and a robusta coffee bean is the plant from which they are obtained. The arabica coffee plant (also known as Coffea arabica) is a bush that generally has to be older to produce beans and that contains less caffeine. On the other hand, the robusta coffee plant (whose scientific name is Coffea canephora) has between double and even triple the amount of caffeine than its arabica counterpart and is considered to be lower quality.
They require different altitude conditions to grow.
The Arabica plant can reach a height of 3 to 7 meters and up to 10 meters in the wild. That’s something like 10 to 20 ft. and up to more or less 30 ft in the wild. Because of its particular structure, it is a difficult plant to care for. It needs a lot of ambient humidity so that its leaves can bloom, which is what you’re looking for if you want a good quality product. However, for all these conditions to be met, they can only be harvested in mountainous regions.
Robusta coffee, on the other hand, is much more resistant to different temperatures and different types of climate, it is less prone to diseases and requires lower altitude conditions. It is, however, more bitter and acidic.
Quality is important.
Arabica coffee is considered to be of higher quality, and because it’s harder to cultivate you can clearly notice a difference in its price. As you might imagine, arabica coffee beans are usually more expensive than robusta. This is due to its organic qualities, which are more fragrant and aromatic.
On the other hand, Robusta coffee is often considered to have a lower quality. However, this does not mean that it is just plain bad and that it shouldn’t be used to make a proper espresso, for example. In fact, it is very common to mix both coffee beans to obtain better results and different notes. The only thing is that you’re trying to create a blend where there is a higher percentage of Arabica. Then, throwing in a part of good quality Robusta beans to the mix will give your coffee a special touch of earthy flavor and extra-creaminess.
You can easily tell them apart by looking at the shape of the beans.
In addition to all of the above, the clearest way to tell these 2 types of coffee apart, is by taking a good look at the beans. Arabica beans usually have a more oval shape and tend to be rather elongated. They also often have a sort of greenish background color that can clearly be spotted. Robusta, on the other hand, is much more circular, curved, and yellowish.
Another way to differentiate between them is by their flavor. Arabica coffee has a more delicate and sweet flavor. It is lighter in caffeine content and is much more aromatic. Robusta coffee on the other hand has a more intense, stronger, and less aromatic flavor, but has more “body” and allows you to make a creamier and frothier espresso. That’s why mixing them is a common practice, because then you can get the best out of the 2 variants.
Also by the taste