Coffee Facts

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans: Here’s Everything you Need to Know!

Caffeine Amount in Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

We all know it:

coffee is an irreplaceable element in every home (especially if you’re Italian like me).

Over time, we have learned to appreciate it in all its variants and blends (Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, Excelsa, etc), and to pick the one that fits the most with our tastes.

But what do we mean by blend?

Actually, “a blend” is just the combination of different kinds of coffee; and on the basis of the percentage of one type rather than another, you get different coffee in taste, aroma, and body.

There are about 60 different coffee species. Only 4 of them, however, are the most commercially popular ones (because of the costs, the fruits, the cultivation): Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa.

Arabica and Robusta Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Among the four species listed above, almost all the diffusion and production is to be divided between the Arabica Coffee and the Robusta Coffee;

So let’s find out more about those that are almost certainly the two types of coffee you are drinking daily.

CultivationAbout 70% of the world's coffee productionAbout 30% of the world's coffee production
Genetic44 chromosomes22 chromosomes
Caffeine0.9% to 1.9%1.7% to 4%
ShapeBigger, oval, almost S-shapedSmaller, rounder, more "straight ahead"
Plant Height2,5 - 4,5 meters4,5 - 6 meters
Temperature15 - 24 °C18 - 36 °C
Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) Content5,5 - 8% CGA7 - 10% CGA
Sugar - sucrose6 - 9%3 - 7%
Lipids15 - 17%10 - 11.5%
OriginCentral and South America, Africa (mainly in Kenya and Ethiopia)Indonesia, Vietnam, Africa (Cameroon and Ivory Coast)
TasteMore delicate flavor, more pronounced acidity.
More aromatic and less bitter
Much thicker coffee, less accentuated acidity.
Less aromatic and bitter
ColorHazel-colored with a reddish reflection, with a compact and sometimes striated creamintense black, with a darker and thicker cream
CostsMore expensiveLess expensive

Arabica Coffee is the species cultivated for far more time since it has been used for centuries. This has also led it to be the most widespread species in terms of production: around 70% of the coffee produced in the world is, in fact, Arabica Coffee.

Robusta Coffee, despite being “younger”, has managed to get off the other species, reaching almost the remaining 30% of the coffee produced in the world.

Genetic Differences between Arabica and Robusta

Shape Difference between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans
Shape Differences between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

From the genetic point of view, Arabica Coffee has 44 chromosomes, while Robusta Coffee has the exact half of it: 22 chromosomes.

On the other hand, Robusta has almost double the caffeine compared to the Arabica; In fact, in the first, the percentage of caffeine varies from 1.7% to 4%, while for the second the percentage decreases to 0.9% to 1.9%.

That’s a big difference, isn’t it?

Well, keep it in mind if you need a “boost” or if you can not close your eyes!

From the visual point of view, the two species differ because the Arabica Coffee is bigger, oval, and almost S-shaped, while Robusta Coffee has a rounder, smaller shape and a more ” straight ahead”.

In addition, the plant of the Arabica Coffee is more vulnerable than the Robusta species and therefore needs more attention. This factor contributes to the higher cost of Arabica than Robusta.

Differences in Crops between Arabica and Robusta

arabica red coffee berries
Arabica Red Coffee Berries | Source: World Crops Database

The strong difference between the two species is also found in the cultivated areas for one or the other:

Arabica Coffee prefers very high odds, between 600 and 2000 meters, requiring mineral rich soils and a lot of water. It is cultivated almost exclusively in Central and South America, Africa (mainly in Kenya and Ethiopia).

The Robusta Coffee, however, grows more easily at sea level and in conditions of high humidity. It is cultivated mainly in Indonesia, Vietnam and the African countries of Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

Taste Differences between Arabica and Robusta

arabica vs robusta coffee beansStarting from the fact that caffeine in the Arabica Coffee is about half of Robusta Coffee, one can understand how the two species have totally different taste characteristics.

Arabica, in fact, produces a coffee with a more delicate flavor, where a more pronounced acidity is present. Moreover, thanks to the high presence of oils, it is more aromatic and less bitter.
In the cup, it is hazel-colored with a reddish reflection, with a compact and sometimes striated cream.

If you’re a Nespresso lover or if you want to buy one of the Newest Nespresso Machine, keep in mind that almost all Nespresso Grands Crus Capsules are made of 100% Arabica.

The Robusta species, on the other hand, produces a much thicker coffee with less accentuated acidity. For the less obvious presence of oils, it is less aromatic and bitter.
In the cup is present with a more intense black, with a darker and thicker cream.

The need to give coffee both the body and the aroma leads to mixing the two species into different percentages, thus obtaining an infinite variety of choices.

Over to You

What’s your favorite coffee blend? Let me know in the comments!

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Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans: What's the Difference?
Article Name
Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans: What's the Difference?
Explore the main differences between the two coffee species you probably drink every day, both at home and at work.
Publisher Name
Get Coffee, Be Happy!
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  1. Go to most any restaurant in North America that serves drip coffee and they will proudly tell you it is Finest Columbian Arabica. And it is almost uniformly… bad.
    On the other hand I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad espresso, and at home I drink drip Sumatra, Ethiopian, and am currently enjoying a nice free trade Indonesian.
    The single difference between the boring lifeless coffee, and the blends worth savoring and considering as one of the high points of my day, is the roast. I suspect that if not roasted properly to complement the variety even the finest beans will be a waste.

    Good coffee is not just nice to have. It’s a reason to live.

    1. Hello Brambleberry,

      thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with me!
      I agree with you: I’ve only been to the USA once (California and Nevada) and I found drip coffee not so good. But hey, I’m Italian, so I wasn’t used to your coffee!

      I’m fairly into Indonesian Coffee too, lately and I enjoy it very much. Where do you buy it?

      And I certainly agree with you: Coffee is, indeed, a reason to live =)

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