Arabica vs Robusta: What’s the Difference & Does it Matter?

arabica vs robusta

Everyone has a preference when it comes to their favorite natural coffee bean — and it can turn into a heated debate pretty quickly when you’re among fellow coffee bean suppliers and roasters.

While you enjoy both arabica and robusta beans, you feel like your knowledge of the difference between the two isn’t as strong as you’d like.

It’s your job to be able to provide your clients with detailed descriptions of a bean’s flavors, acidity, boldness, and much more. As the owner of a successful roasting business or as a coffee importer, you don’t want to wind up in a situation where you’re unable to answer a client’s question.

That’s why we’ve created this guide to understanding the differences between arabica vs robusta.

While one isn’t “better” than the other, arabica and robusta beans have several distinctions that might make one more appealing than the other to some.

Read on to learn everything about these two powerhouse beans.

What Does Arabica Mean?

Many experts say that arabica coffee beans were the very first type of coffee beans ever ingested.

Perhaps because it was the first-ever bean enjoyed, today Arabica is the most commonly-produced bean in the world. In fact, it makes up a shocking 70% of all total global bean production.

This means that chances are good that you’ve enjoyed an Arabica bean at some point already.

The bean was born in Ethiopia, but also has roots in Yemen and lower Arabia. Today, popular growing regions for Arabica include Harrar/Moka Harrar, Sidamo, Yigacheffe, Guji, and Limmu.

They’re easy to recognize (at least, to experienced eyes) because of their unique shape. Natural Arabica beans are long and thin, while Robusta beans are much rounder in shape.

Arabica beans are especially known for having a somewhat fruity flavor. They also have higher acidity and sugar levels than Robusta blends do. However, Arabica coffee beans have a lower caffeine content than Robusta beans do.

In most cases, Arabica beans are a bit more expensive than Robusta beans are.

Arabica vs Robusta: Examining the Latter Bean

Now, let’s learn a bit more about the Robusta green coffee bean, so that you can understand the difference between the two a bit more.

Robusta beans are known for having a much more bitter taste than Arabica beans. They also have a lower acidity content and even a woody, earthy flavor. Some also mention lighter notes of chocolate.

Robusta makes up the second-highest amount of the world’s coffee production and is often grown in Brazil, Vietnam, and India. It’s able to tolerate much hotter and more intense climates than the Arabica bean. It also grows faster than the Arabica bean does.

Additionally, Robusta is popular among farmers because it’s a bit more resistant to damage and disease than Arabica beans.

The bean, as the name implies, is incredibly strong and robust. As we mentioned earlier, it has nearly a roughly 80% higher caffeine content than Arabica beans do.

Thus, it makes sense that Robusta beans are often used in espresso roasts and blends.

The high caffeine content means that Robusta beans are frequently used to make instant coffee. For some, this immediately means that Arabica beans are of a higher quality than Robusta beans.

Arabica Coffee vs Robusta Coffee: The Growing Process

Still asking, “What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans?”

Another way that Arabica vs. Robusta beans diverge is the actual growing process.

Arabica beans generally don’t do well in harsh, dry climates. In order to thrive, Arabica beans rely on a good deal of humidity, but still require a fair amount of shade.

This is why Ethiopia’s generally subtropical climate is the ideal place for Arabica beans to thrive. Additionally, Arabica beans are grown at a high elevation level, usually around 1,300 meters or so above sea level.

Usually, Arabica beans produce small, white flowers that come with a hint of jasmine. The ideal harvesting time is when the berries that house the beans are a cherry color.

Because each Arabica flower ripens at a different time, the berries are often picked by hand. Arabica beans are also noted for having a parchment-like coating when picked.

Robusta beans, on the other hand, require a much lower elevation — a maximum of about 1,000 meters — to grow.

Robusta beans usually grow much higher than Arabica beans do, as well.

Interestingly, Arabica beans have a higher overall lipid content than Robusta beans. For those who are just as interested in the health benefits of green coffee beans as they are in the taste, this is a huge bonus.

Additionally, Arabica beans do have a higher antioxidant level than Robusta beans do, which gives these beans another “point” with the health-conscious crowd.

Looking for Arabica and Robusta Natural Coffee Beans?

We hope this post has helped you to get a deeper understanding of the main differences between Arabica vs Robusta natural coffee beans.

In general, more people seem to prefer the taste of Arabica beans to Robusta ones, but it does depend on personal preference and the specific blend and roasting conditions you’re interested in.

No matter which type of bean you favor, your main priority should be getting the highest quality of beans possible.

That’s where our amazing team at ICT coffee comes in.

We offer some of the best natural green coffee beans from all different regions of the world at fair, competitive prices.

Browse through our coffees currently on offer, and experience the ICT difference whether you like Arabica, Robusta, or another kind of bean altogether.