Coffee is one of the most important drinks in our daily life but few of us realizes the coffee species and their difference and how it developed to allow this daily ritual to take place. Some will say, Arabica and Robusta = Coffee.
In this article we will look at the various coffee bean species and how they combine to make the coffee market for this taste profile.
There are about 25 major species of around the world, but only two main species that cultivated for commercial coffee consumption: Coffea Arabica (Arabica) and Coffea canephora (referred to as Robusta).
Arabica was first found growing naturally in the country of Ethiopia in 1753. It was the earliest cultivated species of coffee tree and is still the most common coffee species for commercial purpose. Arabica contributes about 70% of coffee bean market and considered as superior coffee bean compare to other species, including Coffea Canephora (Robusta). Most of the fine, specialty and fancy grade coffee are come from the Coffea Arabica.
Robusta was discovered growing wild in the Belgian Congo (Zaire or Republic of Congo) in 1898. The name is said to reflect the more robust nature of the taste and ‘kick’ that it is noted for delivering. It is the second most widely cultivated coffee, producing about 25% of the world’s coffee beans market. Robusta having lower quality taste than the Arabica bean, which is why it is commonly found in jars of instant coffee and supermarket cans of coffee.
Liberica is another commercial coffee species but it represents less than 2% of the world’s coffee bean production volumes. Liberica is comparable to Coffee Robusta and originates from the low altitude growing areas of West African. It grows as a large strong tree, up to 18 metres in height. Liberica coffee is also grown primarily in Malaysia, demand is very low due to its flavor characteristics.
Arabica VS Robusta
Once roasted, pretty much all coffee beans look the same. Did you know that there are dozens of different between coffee beans?
Anyway, when it comes to our daily cup of favorite coffee, there are actually only two that matter: Arabica and robusta. These are the two primary types of coffee cultivated for drinking.
What is the significant different between the two? It is significant and it is good to know and helpful when choosing coffee.
Price vs. Taste vs. Caffeine
- The most easy and significant is price, Arabica is always expensive than Robusta.
- Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter and softer taste and acidity is higher.
- Robusta has stronger and harsher taste, it contains twice as much as caffeine as Arabica beans. Caffeine is a powerful insecticide and anti-microbial agent, the extra caffeine helps protect the robusta coffee plants from pests. So the choice to use Robusta is driven by economic decisions, not by quality concerns.
- The reason Robusta price lower is due to easier to grow, can grow at lower altitude than Arabicas, less vulnerable to pest and weather conditions. Robusta produce more beans and quicker than Arabica do.
- Most supermarket coffee is exclusively robusta, and instant and cheap ground coffees are certainly robusta. You can still find Arabica in the grocery store, but just because it’s labeled Arabica does not mean it’s of high quality.
Without a doubt, Arabica coffee is outstanding than Robusta coffee if come to a perfect coffee taste contest. Robusta selling price is almost 25% of the price of Arabica. Not all customers really know how to differentiate between the 2 major coffee, vendors may mix Robusta with Arabica to create greater profit.
I can’t say all, but most of the best tasting coffee is made from Arabica beans which are naturally mild and aromatic, with a rich round pallet and imbued with subtle and varied flavors.
Robusta beans yield a harsher, bitter tasting cup with significantly more caffeine. Robusta is used by some coffee producers because the plants, being hardier and easier to grow and harvest produce a cheaper, though less desirable bean.