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Avid coffee drinkers will be more than familiar with the terms Arabica and Robusta, the two different types of coffees cultivated for drinking. Of the two, Arabica is well-regarded as the superior cup for a variety of reasons.
Arabica coffee has a smoother, well-rounded taste with notes of caramel, chocolate, berries, fruits and they are higher in acidity. Arabica tend to be sweeter as they have a higher sugar content compared to Robusta. Robusta coffee is bitter due to their significantly higher caffeine and chlorogenic acid content. In general, Robusta coffee is harsh and stronger, with notes of earth, jute and burnt wood with a nutty aftertaste.
Arabica coffee is grown at higher altitudes, with most production concentrated in the Western Hemisphere. Although Arabica coffee is also produced in Africa and Papua New Guinea, the biggest producer of Arabica coffee is South Africa. Robusta coffee grows at lower altitudes, requiring plenty of water and sunlight to thrive. They are hardier against pests and diseases and has higher yield compared to Arabica, requiring only two years to full maturation as opposed to the four years needed for Arabica plants. The largest producer of Robusta coffee worldwide today is Vietnam, with Brazil and Indonesia close behind (though Indonesia’s Arabica beans are much sought after).
The fuller flavour profile of Arabica and its low yield explains the higher prices it commands over Robusta varieties, with a 60% premium the norm. Prized heirloom Arabica beans such as Yellow Bourbon is said to fetch as much as 10 times of normal Arabica beans. That aside, top quality Robusta coffee is usually superior to low quality Arabica coffee, though their scarcity and price point is a sticking point in commercial usage. Robusta coffee is utilised in Italian-style coffee blends for the richer crema and depth of flavour it imparts. The popular Death Wish Coffee sources top quality Robusta coffee for their signature blend, said to contain triple the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.