You’ve probably seen it before: On the packaging of the coffee is written large “100% Arabica”. Arabica coffee is often subconsciously sold to us as the “better” coffee. But where does this assumption come from and is there really anything to it? We clear up the half-knowledge and explain which coffee bean really tastes better.
Arabica and Robusta in quick comparison
About 124 known coffee species exist from the coffee plant Coffea. However, for us as fragrant lovers, only two of them are relevant: The Coffee Arabica plant and the Coffee Canephora plant, also known as Robusta. Together, they account for around 99% of the world’s coffee production. 70% of this is due to the Arabica bean and 30% to the Robusta bean.
The beans are easy to distinguish visually: The Arabica bean is larger and has an S-shaped cut in the middle.
The Robusta bean is slightly smaller and has a straight cut.
The two varieties can also be clearly distinguished in cultivation: As the name suggests, the Robusta bean is much more resistant. It is less susceptible to pests and can grow even under heat and humidity. This also makes sense, because the Robusta bean is found in low regions where it is at the mercy of hotter climatic conditions.
Much more demanding is the “diva” among the beans. The Arabica plant can only thrive in high soil and climate conditions . As a “highland coffee”, it also requires altitudes of at least 1000 meters. All this makes it a demanding and less productive plant.
But does that make the Arabica plant the taste winner? To this end, let’s next take a look at what differentiates the beans in terms of their ingredients.
The inner values
A look inside the beans reveals further differences. The caffeine content is twice as high in the Robusta bean, which makes it the more popular bean for espresso production. The lower oil content also makes Robusta the first choice for espresso. It provides the beautiful, stable crema we all want.
However, the Arabica bean brings with it a decisive advantage, and that lies in its DNA. With 44 chromosomes, Arabica has twice as many chromosomes as its competitors. These represent the complexity of the flavors. They give the coffee a particularly aromatic and soft taste.
The Arabica bean also performs better in terms of acidity. The chlorogenic acid content is only half as high. The acidity is the reason why we sometimes feel that the coffee “hits our stomach”. But do not worry: Due to the qualitative and gentle roasting, which we use with us the chlorogenic acid content can be greatly reduced.
Recommendation: Particularly low-acid coffee
The differences in taste
Now to the most important part for us: the taste. Because for us, coffee is not just a wake-up call, but a pleasure. It is important to note at the outset that the differences in taste between beans cannot be generalized, because the type of coffee is only one of many factors that influence taste. More important than the bean itself is the processing and roasting. There are, however, typical characteristics that distinguish between Arabica and Robusta beans.
Arabica coffee is known for its elegant, distinctive aroma. Due to the complexity of the chromosomes, a wide variety of flavors can be pronounced – from fruity fresh to nutty.
The Robusta coffee scores with its impressively strong flavor and full body. It is often described earthy and slightly bitter with notes of nut and chocolate.
100% Arabica – What’s that all about?
Now back to the well-known advertising slogan: 100% Arabica. What is this promise all about and is 100% Arabica also 100% better quality?
The reputation of the Arabica bean as a sophisticated highland coffee is worth a lot: importers can achieve significantly higher prices on the market with the designation “100% Arabica”. Photos of tropical coffee plantations in the mountains of Brazil give us the feeling that this must be a particularly exclusive coffee. But this says nothing about the quality and taste. In fact, coffees that are 100% Arabica usually perform worse in the taste test than blends. Blends are intensively flavored and combine all the positive properties of the coffee varieties with each other. This creates a particularly round and harmonious taste. A completed work of art, so to speak.
Our most popular variety Lungo Bellissimo is also a blend by the way. We use mostly blends for our sustainable coffee capsules, because this allows our coffee sommeliers to tickle the best out of each bean.
Our most popular coffee
Conclusion: Arabica or Robusta?
Arabica scores with elegant, fruity aromas. Robusta with a full body and earthy, slightly bitter flavors. If you are looking for a harmonious, round coffee, a blend of Arabica and Robusta is the best choice.
So both beans have their advantages, but ultimately it remains a matter of personal taste and the quality of the bean. We do not want to choose a winner, because we at MyCoffeeCup think: Coffee should be diverse!