February 11th, 2021
Arabica Vs Robusta Beans
Coffee: from the Latin name of the genus Coffea - a species which consists of more than 120 varieties, some of which produce a damn fine fruit with aromatic seeds laden with delicious natural oil, antioxidants and most importantly - caffeine.
Once dubbed the ‘Devil’s Drink’ on arrival in 16th century Italy, the flavoursome and mildly addictive brew has grown to rank as one of the world’s most valuable and highly traded crops.
Two of the most commonly used in today’s coffee culture are the Robusta (also known as Canephora) and Arabica species. Arabica is the king-pin of beans, dominating the market, accounting for 60–80% of the world's coffee production, with Robusta making up the rest.
Here at Black Insomnia, we use a mixture of the two, using a top-secret ratio (who doesn’t love a bit of cloak ‘n dagger?) to create the perfect blend flavour-wise with that epic caffeine kick - our recipe ain’t no accident. It’s all about quality beans, sourced from the top producers that are then roasted to perfection & balanced together just right.
What makes them different?
- Tend to have a smoother, sweeter taste, with flavour notes of chocolate and sugar. They often also have hints of fruits or berries. Generally a more complex flavour than Robusta.
- They usually contain 60% more lipids (fats) than Robusta - which is why they’re so flavoursome and create a rich mouthfeel.
- 1.1% - 1.7% caffeine content - pretty low.
- Grows better at higher elevations.
- These plants are capable of self-pollination!
- Brazil is the most significant Arabica producer.
- Widely enjoyed in filter coffees
- Generally they have a stronger, more intense verging on bitter taste.
- Their sugar content is half of Arabica beans’ average amount.
- 2% - 4.5% caffeine content - often more than double the amount found in Arabica beans!
- Are happy growing at lower altitudes; they’re a fairly easy crop to grow and are very resilient to pests - super robust(!)
- Vietnam produces the most Robusta.
- Widely enjoyed in espressos, as Robusta beans create a to-die-for thick, foamy crema.
As you can see, these beans are basically opposite ends of the flavour scale - so balancing them out against each other can work a dream, when in the right hands.
Real-talk though - over the years, Robusta has grown a bit of a bad rep. This was hugely down to poor farming and processing techniques; the sweet Arabica crop was massively favoured over the feisty Robusta bean, resulting in money from the coffee industry being pumped into Arabica production. But, this has been changing.
Despite Arabica historically being deemed as of a higher quality than Robusta, this is definitely not always the case.
In 2014, the QCI (Quality Coffee Institute) laid out clear international standards jointly with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and an international team to create the ‘Fine Robusta Standard’.
We only use Fine Robusta, blended with quality Arabica beans in our coffees. We work hard to source Robusta of superior quality, which also are on the higher end of the caffeine scale! This guarantees that you’ll always get a spectacularly delicious, sweet yet intense brew that’ll definitely give you that caffeine fix too!
By Black Insomnia