Coffee Lovers Know Their Beans

There are two primary types of coffee

Once roasted, pretty much all coffee beans look the same.  Although there are many varieties, there are really only two that matter: Arabica and robusta. These are the two primary types of coffee cultivated for drinking.  What’s the difference between the two? It’s significant, and it’s helpful to understand when choosing coffee.

The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta

The two varieties differ in taste, growing conditions and price. Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter, softer taste, with tones of sugar, fruit, and berries. Their acidity is higher, with that winey taste that characterizes coffee with excellent acidity.  Robusta, however, has a stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and peanutty aftertaste. They contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, and they are generally considered to be of inferior quality compared to Arabica.  Some robustas, however, are of high quality, particularly the quality Kaapi Royale AA and Monsoooned Malabar from India, both of which are valued Robusta coffees used in espressos for their deep flavor and good crema.  Robusta is grown exclusively in the Eastern Hemisphere, primarily in Africa and Indonesia. Arabica is also grown in Africa and Papua New Guinea, but it’s grown dominantly in Latin America. Colombia only produces Arabica beans. Some countries, like Brazil and India, produce both.

Arabica, then, ends up being pricier, of course.  Most supermarket coffee is exclusively Robusta, and instant and cheap ground coffees are certainly Robusta. You can still find Arabica in the grocery store, but just because it’s labelled Arabica does not mean it’s of high quality.

 Ultimately, however, it’s a question of personal taste.