If you are an American that doesn’t think too much about the coffee that you drink; chances are you drink coffee made mostly from Arabica beans. They are the most commonplace bean by volume, especially in the United States. Today I would like to write about the other bean, the Robusta bean.
Robusta – The Other Bean
The Robusta bean comes from the Coffea canephora plant. C. canephora beans, widely known by the synonym Coffea Robusta, are used primarily in instant coffee, espresso, and as a filler in ground coffee blends. Robusta’s origins are generally traced back to sub-Saharan Africa.
Robusta has a lot going for it in comparison to the Arabica bean. It has almost double the amount of caffeine and more antioxidants. It is also generally considered easy to care for, has a greater crop yield than Arabica does, and is less susceptible to disease.
These advantages come with a trade off as Robusta is generally harsher and more bitter than arabica due to its pyrazine content. However if you enjoy the acerbic taste of espresso crema what you are looking for is that strong finish that Robusta beans provide.
Where Does Robusta Come From?
Vietnam is the largest producer of Coffee Robusta in the world. It produces Robusta almost exclusively and accounts for forty percent of all Robusta sales world wide. Brazil by comparison produces only 25% of the world’s Robusta.
There is a hybrid strain between robusta and arabica that was first discovered in Eastern Timor. It has been bred to create rust resistant plants.
Robusta is indigenous to Liberia to Tanzania and south to Angola. Interestingly it was not recognized as a coffee species until a hundred years after Arabica.
Are there only 2 Kinds of Coffee Bean?
There are technically 120 species of Coffea spread throughout tropical Africa and Asia. Arabica and Robusta dominate the marketplace accounting for more than 97% of all the coffee sold in the world.
A third kind of coffee that makes up about 2% off all coffee produced annually is called Coffea liberica. Then there is Coffea charrieriana; but those are stories for another day…