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The Robusta coffee bean: all you need to know!

The Robusta coffee bean: all you need to know!

When homebrewing your coffee, you’ll notice that most of your coffee grounds or beans will consist of Robusta coffee beans?

What are Robusta beans? Where do they grow?

We dive into the history of this Robusta coffee bean and talk about how much they have in world consumption.

What is the Robusta bean exactly?

We all know that coffee is brewed from coffee beans. Robusta is one of the 4 main types of coffee beans in the world.

Robusta refers to something strong, robust. This bean is less selective for when it comes to places to grow and is almost immune to disease.

Its botanical name is “Coffea Canephora”.

The Robusta beans are good for about 40 percent of the global coffee production.

When it comes to world production, they come second to Arabica. They challenge the throne of Arabica but facts (ICO) state that this is the trend in the last years.

This changes every year, but not in a very high way.

Robusta coffee bean vs Arabica coffeen bean
% Production of coffee: Robusta vs Arabica (source of the data, custom made graph)

Because of the more resilient and adaptive Robusta, it’s assumed that Robusta will have a larger share in the future. We’re all aware of climate change, this can be challenging for Arabica beans and thus beneficial for Robusta beans.

The Robusta has about 2 times more caffeine when compared to Arabica, this substance contributes to its robust character.

History of the Robusta bean?

The Robusta bean was first seen in Africa around 1800, in Congo.

This bean was discovered in Africa and is now mostly grown in Asia, mostly Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.

The taste of the Robusta

The Robusta has, generally, lower quality in taste and coffee experience. It tastes more bitter compared to Arabica.

Some people even say it tastes like burnt rubber, think about those times we had a bad coffee experience from that plastic in our coffee maker!

There are of course also Robustas that have higher quality, but they still taste more bitter and are lower on acids.

Robustas have about 2x caffeine compared to Arabica and less sugar. They match great with extra sweeteners like sugar. They can result in great blends for espresso brewing.

Please don’t think of Robusta as the worst choice of 2: Arabica vs Robusta. A lot of factors decide and can contribute to your coffee experience. A coffee bean undergoes a lot of processes before it ends in your cup.

Where is the Robusta coffee bean grown?

As said before, Robusta can be grown in more places around the globe compared to Arabica, Excelsa, and Liberica.

Its more resistant to diseases and changing weather conditions. This makes it easier to grow, not only in high places.

We’ve said that for Arabica, altitude is an indicator and this will always be the case for a coffee bean, but it just can’t get the same results as Arabica.

This coffee is mostly grown in Africa and Asia (mostly Vietnam). Other countries like Brazil also produce Robusta beans.

With the changing climate in mind, we’d expect a shift in coffee bean production vs Arabica, allowing a larger share for Robusta.

Production of Robusta beans

We’ve already said that Robusta beans are good for about 40 percent of the global coffee production.

According to numbers from ICO, this trend stays the same (see graph above).

We can assume that the changing climate can have an influence on this ratio in the future.

The bean is mostly produced in Asia and Africa. Other countries like Brazil also produce Robusta.

100% Robusta?

We know that Robusta beans contain about 2x to 3x more caffeine when compared to Arabica. This means that it won’t go easy on your stomach and is harder to digest.

A lot of people have trouble with the high level of acidity, making it not an ideal product to sell for people.

As we’ve said before: think of the 100% Robusta as a label or indication of quality. There are people who will love a cup of coffee that’s made with 100% Robusta beans.

The truth is that 100% Robusta beans aren’t as common as 100% Arabicas.


Why is Robusta coffee bad?

We wouldn’t say that robusta coffee is bad. Every product has the right amount and time for consumption. However, it’s true that it’s more suited for the lower side of the market because of its higher caffeine amount. This makes it harder to digest and less suited for specialty coffees because this can result in a bad coffee experience (very bitter or burnt taste).

Is Robusta good coffee?

Yes. It’s easier to grow compared to other bean types (like Arabica), making it an ideal fit for a lot of farmers around the world. The quality is lower, caffeine content a lot higher, making it more suited for other purposes like espresso blends.

Is Robusta better than Arabica?

No, generally, the taste will not be better. The Robusta contains 2x to 3x more caffeine than Arabica beans. The taste of Robusta beans is stronger and more bitter. In some cases, you can have a burnt taste. Robusta beans can be a good addition, as we know the blends. That’s why it’s used for espressos.

Enjoy your coffee!

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