The differences between Arabica and Robusta

Dejavu

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Jun 27, 2019
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Of the worldwide coffee market, Arabica beans account for 75 to 80 percent; Robusta beans, for the remaining 20 to 25 percent. Following is a brief review of the world’s two largest coffee-produced and sold.

Arabica and Robusta species differ in taste, caffeine content, disease resistance, and optimum cultivation conditions. Natural variations in soil, sun, moisture, slope, disease, and pest conditions dictate which coffee is most effectively cultivated in each region of the world. Generally speaking, East African, Central and South American countries grow Arabica, and West

African and Southeast Asian countries grow Robusta, although these divisions are not absolute. The largest Arabica producer, Brazil, is also the second-largest producer of Robusta after Vietnam. Brazil grows just slightly more Robusta than third place Indonesia, which also produces significant amounts of highly regarded Arabica.

Arabica typically grows at altitudes between 1,500 and 6,000 feet, depending on location. Arabicas tend to be more susceptible than Robustas to poor soils and diseases. Owing to this, and the fact that they are considered a tastier bean, Arabica command a higher price and are most often used in fine, specialty coffees and as a flavor component in Robusta Blends. Premium-quality “washed” Arabica (which entail postharvest processing in water) from northern Latin America trade at prices more than double those for lower-quality Robusta or even “unwashed” Arabica. Today about 70 percent of our world coffee supply is Arabica, Colombia and Brazil being the main producers.

Robusta Triumphant
During the first half of the 1950s, as coffee prices had risen, hopeful growers in the tropics planted new trees. Arabica trees produce four years after they are planted. Robusta trees, however, take only two years from seedling to harvest and produce more heavily. Encouraged by the popularity of instant coffee, many African colonies increased Robusta growth dramatically.
 

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