We’ve all been there, standing in line at a favorite coffee shop on a hot summer day, wondering whether to try their cold brew or classic iced coffee this time. In Australia, you can typically find two main coffee bean types on supermarket shelves: Arabica and Robusta. You may be wondering, are there differences between the beans? Oh, there definitely are. Let’s get right to it.
Arabica vs. Robusta: An Introduction
Like many other important things in life, Arabica and Robusta are different species of the same genus: coffee. Arabica and Robusta are the two most widely planted species of coffee, which is the genus that includes over 60 species of coffee.
The Arabica vs. Robusta debate is as old as the coffee industry itself. For as long as there have been coffee beans, there has been a debate between the two species over which is the better bean. Arabica and Robusta are, by no coincidence, two species indigenous to two coffee-producing regions of the world: the mountainous regions of Yemen and Ethiopia, respectively. Both of these regions, along with the Fertile Crescent (which is the birthplace of agriculture) are ancient regions known, collectively, as the “Cradle of Civilization.”
Despite being from the same genus, Robusta and Arabica are very different species. Arabica coffee, for example, is typically grown between altitudes of 1,500 and 2,500 meters above sea level, whereas Robusta is grown at lower altitudes between 600 and 1,500 meters. The different growing regions are reflected in the flavor and aroma profile differences between the two.
Arabica vs. Robusta: Flavor and Aroma
A Robusta iced coffee is harsher and more bitter than an Arabica. The difference between the two species is most easily tasted and smelled in a brewed cup of coffee.
During roasting, Robusta coffee beans develop more of a smoke-like or spicy flavor. The added smoke, or “chocolate” flavor, is best known for its presence in the popular strong, dark-roast coffees like French, Italian, or Viennese. The robusta bean is also favored by coffee roasters for its ability to withstand dark-roasting and maintain its flavor.
Of course, this is not to say that robusta is bad. Many coffee drinkers enjoy the robusta iced coffee taste. However, robusta is typically used in blends with Arabica because the stark flavor difference would be too harsh for a single-origin beverage.
On the other hand, Arabica’s lighter, fruitier flavor makes it the perfect iced coffee bean. Arabica iced coffee is more balanced and less bitter than robusta iced coffee. If you’re interested in a classic iced coffee, then you’ll probably want to stick to an Arabica bean.
In addition to flavor, Arabica coffee beans are prized for the aroma that they produce during the roasting process. It is the sweet, almost floral aroma of the Arabica beans that make them so prized for iced coffee. It is the floral, fruity notes of the Arabica bean that makes it so valuable for blending. Arabica is also favored for blending because it produces a more balanced taste profile than Robusta, allowing the flavor of other beans to shine through. If you’re interested in a creamy latte or a fruitier iced coffee, then your best bet is to stick with Arabica.
Robusta vs. Arabica: Which One is better?
At the end of the day, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference. If you’re just getting into coffee, then the Arabica vs. Robusta debate probably doesn’t matter that much to you. If you’re a coffee aficionado, then you’re probably already used to reaching for Arabica coffee beans. However, Robusta coffee beans are used for a reason. Robusta is valued for its taste, as well as its ability to withstand dark roasting, which is why it is so popular for dark-roasted coffees.
So, which one is better? The answer is that it depends on what you’re looking for. We provide both options with our mobile coffee service in Adelaide. Get in touch with us to book us!