Arabica coffee beans and robusta coffee beans are the two major types of coffee that are cultivated and sold around the world. Though they are both widely available, the main difference between the two types are simple: taste. Today we’ll focus on defining the characteristics of arabica, which is known for its sweetness, slight bitterness, and nutty flavor notes.
Arabica Coffee beans are sourced from the Coffea arabica plant and make up about 75% of the world’s coffee production. The plant is believed to originate from Ethiopia, located in the horn of Africa. This origin story often causes confusion because the coffee is actually named after Arabian scholars that originally began brewing it. These scholars claimed that arabica coffee allowed them to dedicate longer periods of time to their studies, which then spread the popularity of coffee across the world.
Arabica coffee beans contain twice the sugar content, contains less caffeine, and has 60% more lipids than robusta beans. This means that the flavor profile is overall less bitter, even after roasting.
Additionally, because arabica beans have a higher acidity, it pairs better with rich foods like fruit and chocolate.
Arabica coffee beans require a tropical climate. Because of its sensitivity to environmental factors, such as sunlight, pest level, temperature, and humidity, arabica coffee is relatively difficult to cultivate. Even a small, incremental change in any of these factors could spell disaster for the plant.
In addition to the plant’s temperamental growing needs, Arabica coffee beans take longer to mature and actually yields less per year. This increases the cost of growing Arabica coffee, which also increases the cost of purchasing quality Arabica coffee beans.
Arabica vs. Robusta
Arabica beans are by far more popular than Robusta beans. Though taste is the biggest difference between the two, there are a multitude of other tradeoffs to consider.
The sweet aroma and mild flavor are often the deciding factor for most people in the choice between arabica or robusta coffee beans. However, robusta coffee beans do make up 25% of the entire world’s coffee production, which is nothing to dismiss. Next week, we’ll go over the nuances of robusta that people love.