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Difference Between Arabica and Robusta

Arabica vs Robusta

One common theme that both Arabica and Robusta share is that they are both under the classification of coffee. In fact, Arabica and Robusta are two of the three varieties of the coffee plant. Their full names are coffee Arabica and coffee Canephora respectively.

These two variants are the most well-known used in coffee production and consumption.
Arabica and Robusta are also labels for the coffee beans that each respective variety produces.

Between the two varieties, Arabica is the most preferred. It has a wide range of taste (from sweet to tangy flavors) and smells sweet and fruity when roasted.

Arabica coffee plants are also a bit harder to cultivate and grow since they are very delicate. They need constant care and specified conditions. These specific conditions include cool or subtropical weather, a lot of moisture, a rich soil, and constant protection from cold temperatures and insects. Arabica plants are usually grown in high altitude locations. They need to be placed at 600-2,000 meters or 2,000-6,000 feet above the ground.

On the other hand, Robusta exemplifies the direct opposite of Arabica. Robusta usually has a neutral to bitter taste. When roasted, the Robusta beans smell like peanuts. As a plant, Robusta is sturdier. It can survive in harsh climates and is not prone to diseases or attacks from insects. Robusta plants are usually planted in lower altitudes, usually 200 to 800 meters.

In addition, Robusta plants yield more coffee beans and a good product for low-cost production. The percentage of caffeine in Robusta is much higher compared to Arabica.

In contrast, Robusta is not the variety in demand in the coffee industry. Because of its bitterness, Robusta is often used in instant coffee.  Arabica, on the other hand, is often used for high-class coffee and coffee blends. It is also the preferred variety due to its mild and balanced flavor. In terms of production, coffee growers often plant more Arabica plants compared to Robusta plants.

The Arabica and Robusta beans’ appearances are also very different. Arabica beans are flat and elongated. They are deep green in color with a shaped crack. As a plant, the variety has 44 chromosomes, double of a Robusta bean. On the other hand, a Robusta bean is round and pale green. It has a straight-line crack.

Summary:

  1. Both Arabica and Robusta are popular varieties of the coffee plant. Each variety produces different kinds of beans.
  2. The majority of coffee plants and beans are of the Arabica variety. Arabica is known to have a wide range in taste, mild and balanced flavor. Meanwhile, Robusta is less popular with its bitter taste and high caffeine content.
  3. There are different growing conditions for each variety. The Arabica variety needs a few specific requirements like: temperate climate, high attitudes, rich soil, and constant care from the cold and insects. On the other hand, Robusta is a much easier   variety to grow and manage. It grows at lower altitudes and does not require as much care compared to Arabica. It also yields more coffee beans and is less costly to produce.
  4. Arabica and Robusta also differ in appearance as coffee beans. Arabica has a deep color with a flat and elongated body. It has a curved crack. In contrast, Robusta has a rounded shape and a pale green color. The crack on a Robusta bean is a straight line.
  5. The number of chromosomes is also different in each plant and bean. The Arabica variety has 44 chromosomes, a possible result of crossbreeding the plant. On the other hand, the Robusta plant only has half (or 22) of the Arabica’s total number of chromosomes.


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