Even though Shakespeare did not ask this question, we do ask ourselves: do I chose Arabica beans or Robusta?
Well, to understand which to choose, we need to know our beans. Now, I’m not gonna be here to tell you one is better than the other, you can be the judge of that. I am here to give you the difference between what you can find out there, and why they taste different.
As I said in long 2018, coffee is not just coffee. And we covered that already, coffee is a plant. Thing is, by being a plant it obviously has a family tree, and has different varieties. Coffee has more than just two, but Arabica and Robusta are the ones that we most use for our cup of joe. Let’s have a look at them quickly.
Robusta is what the Dutch discovered back in the 1800s. It is what we exported from the “new world” and was considered a luxury.
Robusta is quite an “easy” plant: it grown at low sea level, and has a defense mechanism that lets the plant take care of unwanted visitors. That defense mechanism is caffeine. Yes, Robusta has a higher amount of caffeine, which makes it taste “stronger” but also cheaper to sell and buy.
The plant looks quite different too: it is short and wide, and produces more cherries than Arabica. It is mostly cultivated in Asia, but also in South America.
Oh, the darling Arabica. I always used to say to my students that Arabica is the fancy sister of the two. (Let’s face it, she is.)
Arabica only grows well quite high on the sea level ( from 1200mt plus) . It is a much more delicate plant: she is tall, skinnier, and it needs way more care than her bigger sister. (Yes, you get where I’m going with this) Because she is a more delicate plant, the farmers will need to take constant care with it, and this is why the beans are more expensive. The plant needs more work.
However, because she is so “fancy” and doesn’t have to worry about those unwanted visitors, she actually can spend more time developing flavour. You heard that right: Arabica has a bigger spectrum of flavor, that Robusta cannot develop, because the caffeine is lower. Which is why, depending of it’s provenience, it will taste differently every time. So if you buy beans from Brazil, let’s say, they will not taste like if you bought the same beans from Ethiopia.
Arabica is currently also the most imported in the “Speciality Coffee” sector, covering 70% of the production.
Now, is up to you which one you use. You can like either, and there should be no judgement for that.
The question is, which one do you prefer?