If you are a coffee drinker, you will easily find out that coffee from the different coffee shops will have different tastes and strengths. Of course, various factors are affecting the flavor. One of the core factors is the types of coffee beans.
Today coffee is grown in more than 70 countries around the world with more than 100 types. However, there are only two main species: Arabica and Robusta are the most popular, which account for nearly 90% of coffee production in all over the world.
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ARABICA COFFEE BEAN
You might already hear about Arabica coffee bean somewhere since it is the most popular types of coffee beans in the coffee industry, which account for 60% of the world’s production.
Arabica bean is from the Coffea Arabica plant and originated in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. It is believed as the first type of coffee beans being cultivated.
To produce the premium taste, Arabica coffee bean needs to be grown in an ideal condition. It is sensitive to hot and humid conditions and must be cultivated at altitudes of 900 feet above the sea level and require high cultivation density. Arabica grown at higher altitudes is associated with the emergence of higher quality characteristics during roasting.
Arabica Coffee tree is very easily affected by climate change and prone to disease. Thus it only can be grown in tropical and equatorial regions where there is a lot of rain, always mild spring and summer.
Arabica bean does not ripen at the same time. Therefore, for the best quality, the berry needs to be hand-picked, which is very labor-intensive.
Today, Most of Arabica beans are grown in Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, Ethiopia, Burundi, Brazil, Rwanda, and India. Among that, Brazil is the largest Arabica producer, which provides more than one-third of the world’s production.
Arabica coffee bean has an oval shape and an S line in the middle of the bean.
Arabica is a unique species that have 44 chromosomes in the Coffea family. The caffeine content in Arabica bean is quite low compared to other types, which varies from 0.9 to 1.7%.
In terms of flavor, it varies depending on the region where it grows. However, a cup of coffee from high-quality Arabica bean is usually fragrance, sweet, balanced, satisfying acidity, with an aftertaste of caramel and a mild hint of bitterness
As it has the most exceptional quality among all species together with the strict growing condition and requires proper care, Arabica has a very high trading value compared to other beans. Because of that, you probably see a lot of coffee brands or coffee shops mention the word “100% Arabica bean” on their packaging or advertisement to show that their coffee is made from premium beans.
ROBUSTA COFFEE BEAN
It is the second most popular type of coffee beans that the world consumes, which mark up to more than 30% of the world’s coffee production. People first produce Robusta coffee bean in the plant name Coffea canephora, which is originated from central and western sub-Saharan Africa.
Just like its name, Robusta is very easy to grow and care as it is incredibly tolerant of its environment. It can grow at a much lower attitude compared to Arabica and has a high ability to withstand the hot weather and climate changes.
While caffeine content in Arabica bean is less than 1.7%, Robusta bean has the caffeine content of up to 2.8%. Because of the high caffeine content, Robusta is almost immune to disease and pests.
Robusta bean is circular, smaller, and thicker than Arabica and has a straight line in the middle of the bean.
Since the caffeine content is double, Robusta has a strong and deep flavor compared to Arabica. Its character is earthy, rubbery, slightly hint of chocolate, and the aftertaste of peanut.
Many coffee drinkers do not like coffee brewed from Robusta bean because of the bitterness and robust flavor. However, if it mixed well with Arabica beans, it will give an intense flavor to your cup of coffee. Most coffee shops in Italia (home of espresso coffee) use the blend that contains both Arabica and Robusta because of the thicker crema and the deep flavor.
As it is very easy to grow and able to produce much higher crop yield compare to Arabica, the price of Robusta bean is half the price of Arabica.
Robusta is mostly used to produce instant coffee and or mixed with Arabica to create espresso blends.
Today, Vietnam is the largest producer for Robusta. Besides, Indonesia, India, and Brazil are also the central suppliers of Robusta bean for the world.
ARABICA VS ROBUSTA
|Oval, has a S line in the middle of the bean
|Circular, smaller and thicker than Arabica and has straight line in the middle of the bean
|Must be cultivated at altitudes of 900 feet above the sea level, high cultivation density, a lot of rain, always mild spring and summer
|Can be grown at low attitude, extremely tolerant of its environment and almost immune to disease and pests.
|Costly to grow and high labor intensive. However, there are high demand
|Cheap to grow and less care. However, demand is lower compare to Arabica
|0.9% – 1.7%
|1.6% – 2.8%
|Fragrance, sweet, balanced, satisfying acidity, with an aftertaste of caramel and a mild hint of bitterness
|Earthy, rubbery, slightly hint of chocolate and the aftertaste of peanut
|Eespresso, Brew coffee and most type of coffee drink
|Mostly instant coffee, or mixed with Arabica to add flavor to espresso blend.
Some specialty coffee such as Vietnamese coffee.
|Half the price of Arabica