Arabica Coffee vs Robusta Coffee: What's the difference?

Coffee cherries

Did you know that there are over 100 species of coffee? Coffee beans are the seeds of a flowering plant of the Coffea genus in the Rubiaceae family. Despite this large botanical family, the beans used in our regular cup of coffee come from two plants: the Coffea arabica plant (arabica beans) and the Coffea canephora plant (robusta beans). 

Each of these beans produces a brew that’s potent, delicious, and completely unique. Basically think of the two plants as cousins – kinda similar but also super different! 

Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between robusta and arabica coffee.

What is Arabica Coffee?

Arabica coffee is widely (and mistakenly in our opinion) considered to be the superior coffee. These beans produce a smooth and sweet coffee, with a delicate flavor profile featuring notes of chocolate, sugar, and berries– depending on the arabica variety. . 

There are several varieties of arabica coffee (this seems to be a trend when discussing the coffee plant 😅). The most popular varieties of arabica include Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai. Arabica beans thrive in cool climates and are grown at a high altitude, some countries that grow arabica coffee include Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

What is Robusta Coffee?

Robusta coffee sadly gets a bad rep. Unlike arabica, these beans produce a strong and full body coffee and tend to be slightly bitter. While they’re mainly used in blends or instant coffee, we love robusta beans as SANG and it’s our go-to when we make any type of Vietnamese coffee.

Robusta beans are significantly cheaper than arabica, but this is certainly not an indication of poor quality. These plants are native to sub-Saharan Africa and they’re very strong, so they flourish in lower-altitude regions such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Uganda. 

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans: What’s Better?

Each of these beans are unique and produce a delicious brew, here’s a quick breakdown of the key differences between the coffee beans. 

1. Flavor

This would be the most significant difference. Arabica beans have a smooth flavor, it is more floral and has sweet notes of chocolate and berries. Robusta beans have a strong and bitter flavor and they carry notes of smoked wood. This coffee goes well when combined with condensed milk in a Vietnamese iced coffee

2. Acidity

If you prefer a coffee with a low acidity, then opt for robusta beans as it’s mellow and a lot less sweet. In contrast, arabica coffee has a fruity, bright acidity.

3. Caffeine Potency

Did you know that robusta coffee contains twice as much caffeine as arabica beans? Robusta beans have a 2.7% caffeine content (whereas arabica beans only have 1.5%). Its caffeine potency also adds to its strong flavor

Coffee cup with milk
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4. Roasting Temperature

Due to differences in the plant itself, arabica beans are a bit more delicate, and because of this, they require low roasting temperatures. Sturdy robusta beans however, require a high roasting temperature.

5. Yield

Largely because of growing conditions such as those found in areas like Africa and Asia, coupled with advancements in disease-resistant plants, robusta has a higher yield per acre than arabica.

6. Hardiness

Finally, one of the defining characteristics of the robusta coffee bean is its hardiness due to the fact that they can grow easily throughout the year with minimal oversight. 

Green coffee beans
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So, arabica vs robusta – which coffee is the best? It really all boils down to your preference. Here at SANG, we’re partial to robusta beans as Vietnam is the largest producer of this insanely delicious coffee. 

If you haven’t tried robusta coffee yet, or you want to get a taste of the finer things in life, check out our range of canned Vietnamese iced coffee. We use a potent robusta coffee brew as the base to make a coffee that is strong yet sweet. Just take a sip, and you’ll quickly find out which is the superior coffee!