Arabica vs Robusta: What is the difference?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. What is the difference between Robusta and Arabica beans?

These are the two main types of coffee that we use in our commercial coffee roasting. The majority of blends that we at Bun have are 100% Arabica, but we do use Robusta in some of our blends.

The Differences

The Robusta bean, as the name suggests, is a hardier bean able to be grow at lower altitudes and produces a high yield and is much more pest resistant than the Arabica coffee. This means that they can grow more of it in the same space and so it actually works out to be a cheaper bean. The Arabica grows at higher altitude, the Arabica has higher sugar content is a sweeter bean and a lower yielding bean.

The appearance of the beans is quite different. The Robusta is small, more rounded, and obviously a darker brownish color, whereas the Arabica is a nice green, flatter bean and generally larger and not so rounded.

Caffeine Content

One of the main differences between these two beans is the caffeine content. The caffeine content of the Arabica bean is roughly half that of the Robusta bean. The Robusta bean will have up to 2.5% caffeine whereas the Arabica will generally not have more than 1.7.

How we use Robusta at Bun

Over the years, Robusta has had a bad rap as being a foul tasting, cheap coffee that’s used to fill out blends. But in the right percentage in a blend, it adds a lot of character to the blend, it adds a lot of flavor and strength. When you taste it tastes really quite strong and robust. It not only adds more strength to the coffee in terms of the caffeine content but also adds more strength to the palate as well.

For this reason it’s used in a lot of Italian style espresso blends. We use it in one of our best selling brands, which is our Strong Espresso Blend, which has 20% Robusta in it. The Robusta that we use is a certified organic Robusta from Mexico it’s one of the higher quality Robusta (if you can have such a thing).

The Crema

The other incredible aspect of Robusta beans is the crema. It pours beautifully.

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