| Dominik Osele

Arabica or Robusta: Do I care about the bean?

Arabica Robusta, what is the difference?


Differences between Arabica and Robusta

The Coffee is the most popular hot drink in Germany , and many people cannot imagine their everyday lives without it. We drink it in the morning to “really wake up”, at lunchtime to overcome midday tiredness and in the afternoon to counteract the impending slump in performance. Because whether during sport, in everyday life or at work: Caffeine, which is contained in coffee, simply makes us more efficient. In addition, coffee is simply one of the most popular luxury items. And sooner or later, every connoisseur asks himself the question: Which variety is actually the best for me, Arabica or Robusta ?


Difference Arabica Robusta: The answers in brief

  • Coffee type and coffee variety are two different things . While the coffee type refers to the plant, the coffee variety is what is offered in stores after processing.
  • The Coffea Arabica plant is considered the "original coffee", comes from Ethiopia and arrived in Europe around 1615. It was discovered in the 7th century, grows at an altitude of 600 - 2300 meters and is also called "highland coffee". The growing conditions are demanding. The harvest is done manually, is labor-intensive and offers only limited yield possibilities. The shape of the bean is rather elongated, has a curved cut. It convinces many coffee drinkers with its noble taste with a pronounced aroma and fine acidity.
  • The Robusta coffee variety originates in West and Central Africa, but only appeared in the 19th century. It grows at an altitude of 300 - 600 meters and is mainly cultivated in India, Vietnam and Indonesia. The coffee variety is characterized by its relatively high resistance . The Robusta bean is small, round and has a straight cut. It is particularly valued in southern Europe for its powerful taste. The caffeine content of Robusta is significantly higher than that of Arabica at 2% - 4.5%, making it the stronger "pick-me-up".
  • Everyone can tell good coffee from bad; the differences can be seen with the naked eye. Good beans are characterized by a uniform color (roast) , the typical coffee smell and hardly any damage .


Types and varieties of coffee

Even if the Terms coffee type and coffee variety at first glance seem identical, there is nevertheless a significant difference . In fact, there are about 120 subspecies of the genus Coffea, but two of them are mainly used for the countless types of coffee available on the market. These are the Coffea Arabica and Robusta , which is a Subgenus of Coffea Canephora is about.

At about 70 percent of the coffee offered on the market There are various types of Arabica bean . The remaining 30 percent are made up of Robusta beans. A few percentage points are distributed among the coffee varieties Liberica, Excelsa, Kopi Luwak (cat coffee) and the Maragogype cross (a variety of Coffea Arabica). economic relevance In the world of coffee, however, only Arabica and Robusta . Thus, coffee varieties offered in stores are most likely Arabica coffee , Robusta or a Mixture of both (blend with 50% Arabica and Robusta each)

Arabica or Robusta – A closer look at the two types of coffee

So what exactly are the differences between the two dominant types of coffee? What exactly is the difference between the beans of the Coffea Arabica plant and the Coffea Canephora plant (Robusta)? In the following, we will take a closer look at the history, the growing conditions, the appearance of the beans and their “certain something”.

The coffee type Arabica

The type of coffee Arabica is considered the most original of all types of coffee . It was probably the first wild variety to bloom in Ethiopia's shady rainforests, to be consumed and then cultivated. From the 11th century onwards, the coffee bean spread in the Arab world until it was first brought to Western Europe in 1615 by Venetian merchants and quickly became a popular drink among the nobility. At the end of the 17th century, the first German coffee houses were opened in Regensburg, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Leipzig. Today, the Coffee with a per capita consumption of 162 litres the most popular drink in Germany .

Cultivation & History

  • Arabica is the original coffee, which was discovered in the 7th century and is part of the Viennese coffee house tradition. This gave Arabica an image advantage over the Robusta coffee variety.
  • The Arabica coffee variety grows at altitudes of 600 - 2300 meters, which is why it is also called "highland coffee." As the altitude increases, the growth and ripening of the Arabica beans slows down, while at the same time the aromas develop more diversely and complexly. Since the cultivated areas and harvest yields are smaller at higher altitudes, this inevitably leads to higher prices.
  • Due to climate change, consistent "coffee weather" that is neither too hot nor too cold is becoming increasingly rare, so that abundant harvests can only be expected in locations with favorable climates.
    Since Arabica requires high humidity to thrive, only certain regions in the world are suitable for it.
  • In the steep Arabica growing area, only manual harvesting is possible, which not only requires more time and personnel, but also drives up the price of green coffee.
  • Arabica plants love indirect light in the shade of trees, which is not so easy to find at higher altitudes. The prevailing and increasing intensity of the sun there causes crop yields to decrease further.
Arabica bean

Only certain areas of the world are suitable for growing Arabica. Its growing conditions are demanding, the harvest is manual, it is labor-intensive and offers only limited yield potential. Coffee advertising promotes the Arabica beans are therefore often considered a luxury item. With indication “100 percent Arabica” should give a coffee variety a be certified as being of particular high quality. Ultimately, however, this information says only says something about its ingredients, but not about its actual quality .

Appearance, ingredients & taste of the Arabica bean

  • The beans are rather elongated and have a curved Cut .
  • The Chlorogenic acid content of the Arabica bean is 3 – 6 % lower than that of the Robusta bean, which tends to make it more digestible. Since chlorogenic acid is responsible for the bitter taste, Arabica has a milder taste that many coffee drinkers prefer.
  • The Oil content of the Arabica bean is 15% – 17%.
  • The Sugar content of Arabica is 6% – 9%.
  • Arabica convinces many coffee drinkers with its fine, noble taste with pronounced aroma formation and fine acidity.
  • This coffee has only one Caffeine content of 1.1% – 1.7% . Because of its low caffeine content, Arabica beans are also often used for the production of decaffeinated coffee.
  • Because the Arabica bean has 44 pairs of chromosomes instead of Robusta's 22, it is said to have a greater variety of flavors.

The Robusta coffee variety

The Coffee type Robusta , with its Origin in West and Central Africa In contrast to Arabica, it only appeared at the end of the 19th century. Today, both types are grown in many countries. However, while the Arabica plant is mainly grown in Central and South America and in East Africa, the Main growing areas of Robusta (Coffea Canephora) in Indonesia, India, Philippines, Vietnam and northern Brazil.

Cultivation & history of the Robusta bean

  • The Robusta coffee variety grows at an altitude of 300 to 600 meters. In contrast to Arabica, it is therefore also called "lowland coffee".
  • The growing areas are mainly in India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
    Robusta is, as the name suggests, the more resilient type of coffee that can cope with climate fluctuations and sun more easily than the Arabica bean.
  • Robusta plants therefore produce higher yields overall, are less likely to be affected by diseases and their harvest is significantly less labour-intensive.
  • Due to the market dominance of Arabica, growing the less susceptible Robusta plant is riskier because there is less land available for it. Plantation owners prefer to grow Arabica wherever possible because the number of buyers on the world market is simply larger.
  • Of course, the more significant history of Arabica is also to blame for the unjustifiably tarnished image and the consequences that come with it.
  • As fewer buyers demand Robusta, the sales pressure on suppliers increases.
Robusta bean

Appearance, ingredients & taste of the Robusta bean

  • The Robusta bean is small, round and and has a straight cut .
  • The Chlorogenic acid content the Robusta bean is approx. 10%
  • Her Oil content is only 10% – 12% , which is why you Crema is more stable than that of Arabica coffee .
  • The lower sugar content of Robusta with only 3% – 7%, makes it taste more bitter than Arabica.
  • Robusta has a Intense, strong taste with a distinct earthy note . This powerful Robusta flavor is particularly appreciated in southern Europe and is often used to make a strong-tasting espresso.
  • Meanwhile, there are thanks to special cultivation and processing methods also so-called Fine-Robustas. This coffee speciality tastes no longer bitter, but floral and sweet .
  • The Caffeine content of Robusta is at 2% – 4.5% significantly higher than that of Arabica and is therefore the stronger “pick-me-up”. Pure Robusta coffee varieties are now also available and are trendy. Otherwise,  Robusta is also often used for blends , where the coffee is mixed from different types of coffee to give it a more rounded taste. Some are even saying that pure Robusta coffee is the new trend in the coffee world.

Difference between Arabica and Robusta – The most important data at a glance

For a direct comparison, we will compare some of the relevant key figures for both types of coffee below.

Arabica Robusta
discovery 7th century at the end of the 19th century
Cultivation 600 – 2,300 m altitude 300 – 600 m altitude
shape elongated and curved cut small, round and straight cut
Oil content 15 – 17% 10 – 12%
Chlorogenic acid content 3 – 6% approx. 10%
Sugar content 6 – 9% 3 – 7%
Caffeine content 1.1 – 1.7% 2 – 4.5%
Important characteristics of the coffee types Robusta and Arabica in direct comparison.

What turns coffee beans into espresso beans?

This makes Roasting process the difference. Coffee beans that for espresso are intended are roasted longer . Instead of a usual roasting time of ten minutes the roasting process takes for espresso with about 18 minutes nearly twice as long . This gives it a darker color and also changes the taste. The longer roasting time allows the essential oils of the beans to develop better. This not only gives them a stronger flavor, but also ensures the beautiful crema in the cup. Since the acid content is also reduced, the espresso is even easier on the stomach than conventional coffee.

If you want to learn more about the acidity of espresso beans, you can find information about it in our blog article.

How can a layman distinguish good coffee from bad coffee?

This is the easiest way for everyone see, smell and taste , the one Pack of whole coffee beans It is always recommended to buy the beans whole and grind them just before making the coffee.

Good coffee beans are of approximately the same size and color and point no damages (cheap broken goods). Poor quality can be recognized by broken beans of various sizes, whose color can vary from greenish to (very) dark brown. This sometimes happens even with well-known branded coffees.

If the coffee smells burnt , it was Roasted using a quick process . This can also smell moldy, even if no mold is visible to the naked eye. You should Coffee at least Check the look and smell before it becomes your favorite coffee. It's definitely worth spending a few euros more for a coffee from a small roastery where the roasting is still done carefully and gently.


So what exactly is the difference? Arabica, Robusta and other types of coffee are generally quite similar. These similarities ultimately give us a variety of flavors in coffees, but ultimately they all pull on the same “coffee string.” Whether you choose coffee from Arabica, Robusta or even a mixture of both (a so-called blend) is a purely personal matter of taste. However, you should always pay attention to the quality of the beans and to careful roasting. It can also be informative to take a look at a coffee test, where different coffees are tested every year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to Arabica and Robusta

What exactly is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

The lower content of chlorogenic acid makes Arabica coffee milder than Robusta. Arabica also has a much larger market share in production. Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger and more bitter taste, but scores points with a 2.5 times higher caffeine content and a stable crema.

Arabica or Robusta, which is better?

Both types of coffee are very tasty, although Arabica has a much greater variety of flavors and a better image than Robusta, which is mainly due to coffee advertising. Ultimately, however, both types owe their flavor to the roasting process. The longer the roasting process takes, the more bitter substances the bean contains.

If an advertisement says it is 100 percent Arabica, does this really mean quality?

No, because that simply means that no other type of coffee is included apart from Arabica. There are better and worse Arabica coffees. It is no different with Robusta or other types of coffee.

Is it true that coffee from the supermarket is (usually) too old?

At least it takes a lot longer for a coffee to reach the supermarket shelf after roasting than it does with direct sales. This is often due to the many logistical intermediate stages and the fact that large companies generally produce in advance.

If I freeze coffee beans, will the taste change?

This is where opinions differ among coffee connoisseurs. If you decide to freeze the beans in a practical way, you should freeze them in small quantities in an airtight container and protect them from moisture. They should only be removed from the packaging once they have completely thawed (at room temperature), otherwise condensation will form.