Arabica and Robusta in comparison: Which variety wins the race?
You've probably seen it before: the coffee packaging says "100% Arabica" in large letters. 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 clear up the half-knowledge and explain to you which Arabica and Robusta coffee beans really taste better.
Arabica and Robusta in a quick comparison
There are around 124 known types of coffee from the coffee plant Coffea. However, for us as coffee 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 comes from the Arabica bean and 30% from 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.
Arabica and Robusta can also be clearly distinguished in cultivation: As the name suggests, the Robusta bean is much more resilient. It is less susceptible to pests and can grow even in heat and humidity. This makes sense because the Robusta bean is found in low regions where it is exposed to hotter climatic conditions.
The “diva” among beans is much more demanding. The Arabica plant can only thrive under high soil and climate conditions. As a “highland coffee” it also requires altitudes of at least 1000 meters. All of this makes it 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 makes the beans different in terms of their ingredients.
The inner values
A look inside the beans reveals further differences. The caffeine content of the Robusta bean is twice as high, making it the more popular bean for making espresso. The lower oil content also makes Robusta the first choice when it comes to espresso. It ensures the beautiful, stable crema that we all want.
However, the Arabica bean has a decisive advantage and it is in its DNA. With 44 chromosomes, Arabica has twice as many chromosomes as its competition. These represent the complexity of the aromas. They give the coffee a particularly aromatic and smooth 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 have the feeling that coffee “hits us on the stomach”. But don't worry: thanks to the high-quality and gentle roasting that we use , the chlorogenic acid content can be significantly 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 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 only one of many factors that influence the taste. More important than the bean itself is the processing and roasting. However, there are characteristics typical of the variety that distinguish 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.
100% Arabica – What does that mean?
Now back to the well-known advertising phrase: 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 it 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 intensely flavored and combine all the positive properties of the coffee types. This creates a particularly round and harmonious taste. A complete work of art, so to speak.
Our most popular variety Lungo Bellissimo is also a blend. We mainly use blends for our sustainable coffee capsules, so our coffee sommeliers can get the best out of each bean.
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, you are best served with a blend of Arabica and Robusta.
Both beans have their advantages, but ultimately it remains a question 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 diverse!