Arabica and Robusta in comparison: Which variety wins the race?
Time to read 3 min
Time to read 3 min
You've probably seen it before: "100% Arabica" is written in large letters on the coffee packaging. Arabica coffee is often subconsciously sold to us as the “better” coffee. But where does this assumption come from and is there really something to it? We'll clear up the half-knowledge and explain which Arabica and Robusta coffee beans really taste better.
There are around 124 known types of coffee from the coffee plant Coffea. For us as coffee lovers, however, 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 cultivation. 70% of this can be traced back to the Arabica bean and 30% to the Robusta bean.
The beans are easy to tell apart 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.
Arabica and Robusta can also be clearly distinguished in cultivation: As the name already suggests, the Robusta bean is much more resistant. It is less prone to pests and can grow even under heat and humidity. This makes sense, too, since the Robusta bean is found in deep regions where it is exposed to hotter climatic conditions.
The "diva" among the beans is much more demanding. The Arabica plant can only thrive under high soil and climate conditions. As "highland coffee" it also requires altitudes of at least 1000 meters. All of this makes her a demanding and less productive plant.
But does that also make the Arabica plant a taste winner? Next, let's take a look at what differentiates the beans in their ingredients.
A look inside the beans reveals other differences. The caffeine content of the Robusta bean is twice as high, which makes it the more popular bean for espresso production. The lower oil content also makes Robusta the first choice when it comes to espresso. It provides the nice, stable crema that we all want.
However, the Arabica bean has a decisive advantage and it lies in its DNA. With 44 chromosomes, Arabica has twice as many chromosomes as its competition. These stand for the complexity of the aromas. 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 why we sometimes have the feeling that the coffee "gets on our stomachs". But don't worry: The qualitative and gentle roasting that we use can greatly reduce the chlorogenic acid content.
Recommendation: Particularly low-acid coffee
Now to the most important part for us: the taste. For us, coffee is not just a stimulant, but a pleasure. First of all, it is important to note that the differences in the taste of the beans cannot be generalized because the type of coffee is just one of many factors that influence the taste. More important than the bean itself is the processing and roasting. However, there are definitely varietal characteristics that differentiate Arabica and Robusta beans from each other.
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 taste and full body. It is often described as earthy and slightly bitter with notes of nuts and chocolate.
Now back to the well-known advertising phrase: 100% Arabica. What is this promise 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 mixtures, also known as blends. Blends are intensively seasoned and combine all the positive characteristics of the coffee types. This creates a particularly round and harmonious taste. A perfect work of art, so to speak.
By the way, our most popular variety Lungo Bellissimo is also a blend mixture. We mainly use blends for our sustainable coffee capsules, so our coffee sommeliers can get the best out of every bean.
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, you are best served with a blend of Arabica and Robusta.
So both beans have their benefits, but ultimately it's a matter of personal taste and the quality of the bean. We don't want to choose a winner, because we at MyCoffeeCup think: Coffee should be varied!