Robusta coffee beans are widely known for their strong bitter taste and higher caffeine content. It’s often considered inferior to Arabica.
However, this is not always the case. Robusta is important in the entire coffee industry and is sought after by many coffee cultures worldwide.
Let’s take a look at its pros and cons, and you’ll know whether robusta is worth trying.
What Are Robusta Coffee Beans?
What’s robusta coffee? Robusta coffee beans are coffee beans produced by the Coffea canephora plant (Coffea robusta), originating from Central and West sub-Saharan Africa. It’s one of the main coffee species.
Robusta beans are indigenous to the landmass from central to western Africa, which includes the area from Liberia to Tanzania and south to Angola. However, they are now grown in Borneo, French Polynesia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and more. Today’s biggest robusta producers are Brazil, Vietnam, Africa, Indonesia, India, and Uganda.
Robusta coffee beans are the world’s second most popular coffee beans, after arabica beans. Robusta makes up about 40% of the world’s coffee production.
Robusta Coffee Bean Taste and Characteristics
Generally, robusta is considered inferior to Arabica when it comes to taste. However, this isn’t the case globally; many coffee drinkers prefer robusta for its flavor profile.
Robusta beans are generally smaller and rounder than their arabica counterparts. They take on a darker brown color and a lighter green before roasting.
Once roasted, robusta has a strong and bitter flavor, a grainy or woody taste, and a peanutty aftertaste with low acidity. It’s suitable for those who prefer a strong morning cup.
However, low-quality robusta coffee may take on some harsher flavors, such as crude burnt rubber or gasoline.
Robusta also has higher caffeine and fat content than arabica coffee beans. For this reason, many roasters blend their beans with both Arabica and robusta. The extra fat content delivers a nice creamy crema.
Why Is Robusta Coffee Bitter?
Robusta coffees have a bitter taste and less acidity than their arabica counterparts. This may seem like a drawback to robusta coffee, but it is a blessing in disguise.
Robusta coffee taste bitter because they contain 60% more chlorogenic acid, which acts as a natural pesticide for the coffee plant. Additionally, chlorogenic acid also makes the coffee bean richer in antioxidants.
The caffeine content of robusta coffee contributes to the bean’s bitterness. Robusta coffee has twice the amount of caffeine as arabica beans. In contrast, arabica coffee has twice the sugar content of robusta. Essentially arabica coffee cuts out the bitterness of coffee.
Is Robusta Coffee Low Quality?
There’s a lot of snobbery in the coffee industry regarding robusta coffee. People generally agree that robusta is not as good as arabica coffee. That’s why you can see many brands claim their coffee is 100% arabica.
However, there are high-quality and low-quality robusta beans, just as there are high-quality and low-quality arabica beans.
High-quality robusta dries in the cherry before de-pulping, which allows them to form a more fruity and fermented flavor to the natural sugars and enzymes in the cherry.
Brewing methods can also impact the taste in the mouth feels of robusta bean coffee. For instance, cold brewing can filter out the harsh, bitter, and salty flavors.
Benefits Of Robusta Coffee – Is Robusta Coffee Good?
Robusta coffee is a good coffee for many reasons.
Robusta coffee plants are easier to grow and have a higher yield on average. Arabica coffee plants require high elevations, rich soil and are prone to diseases and pests.
A robusta plant can be grown in lower altitudes, any climate or elevation, and produce more beans. They are more disease resistant compared to the coffea arabica plant. These features make them the more sustainable coffee bean. Due to rising coffee consumption and climate change, greater crop yield is definitely a good thing for global coffee production.
Robusta beans are also favored worldwide for their bold, smooth nutty, and chocolate-forward flavors. The higher fat content in robusta creates a creamier and richer crema, essential for making traditional espresso shots. Italian espresso often uses robusta for its deep, bold flavors, lack of acidity, and a thick layer of crema.
What is Robusta Coffee Used For?
Most decaf coffee comes from robusta beans. This may sound counterintuitive because robusta contains more caffeine. But because they have a more robust flavor, less flavor is lost during the decaffeination process.
Robusta beans are also used in instant coffee because they are generally cheaper. A lot of coffee is lost in the process when making instant coffee. Fortunately, because of the lower price of robusta, losing some coffee won’t hurt the producer’s bottom line.
As we mentioned above, many espresso coffee blends use both robusta and Arabica for thicker crema and a balanced flavor profile.
Robusta Coffee Brands
Pure robusta coffees can be hard to find in the United States as coffee distributors mix robusta with arabica beans. They generally are seen more in Vietnamese coffee brands or as espresso blends.
Trung Nguyen Coffee
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Trung Nguyen began in 1996 in Vietnam and delivered to their customers on a bike. Since then, Trung Nguyen has become an international robusta coffee sensation, won numerous awards, and is in the world coffee museum.
Trung Nguyen offers a range of fair trade coffee products, including fresh coffees, roasted and ground coffees, whole bean coffees, and instant coffees. They typically use a blend of high-quality Arabica and heirloom robusta beans.
With the robust robusta coffee combined with the sweetened condensed milk, your taste buds will thank you!
Nguyen Coffee Supply
Nguyen Coffee Supply is a first-generation Vietnamese American woman-owned robusta coffee supplier.
Nguyen’s coffee supply imports coffee from direct trade relationships with Vietnamese farmers and roasts their coffee in Brooklyn, New York. The company’s founder Sahra Nguyen claims she is on a mission to “change the future of coffee to diversity, sustainability, and cultural integrity.”
Nguyen’s Coffee supply has several blends, which range from Moxy, a 100% arabica bean coffee, to TrueGrit, a 100% Peaberry robusta coffee that contains two times more caffeine than Moxy. Nguyen’s coffee supply also sells coffee brewing tools and bundles with everything you need to get started.
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Biohazard Coffee is a single-source, robusta bean coffee brand that prides itself on being the world’s strongest coffee.
Biohazard coffee blend contains a whopping 928 mg of caffeine per cup. For perspective, A typical strong coffee will have roughly 200 mg of caffeine per cup, and most energy drinks contain just over 700 mg of caffeine.
Biohazard can be purchased in whole beans or as ground coffee. The company states that biohazard coffee has a six-month shelf life guaranteed from the moment you receive it. Biohazard has also said they’re in the works for biohazard coffee to be available in K cups.
Dalat Highlands Robusta Whole Beans
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Dalat Highland robusta beans are a 100% Peaberry robusta bean blend, processed in the sun before being washed. As a result, they have a sharper and bolder profile than non-Peaberry robusta coffees from the same region.
Dalat Highlands grows robusta in higher altitudes, similar to arabica beans. This results in exceptional taste and quality over other versions of robusta.
You can purchase Dalet Highlands as whole beans or ground for drip coffees.
Robusta coffees are a fantastic coffee bean variety for individuals who prefer stronger coffees or coffees with a lot of milk or cream added in. They are also an excellent coffee bean option for espresso lovers.
Although many people believe arabica coffee is better, robusta shines in many