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Arabica vs Robusta: Which Should You Choose?

20 October 2021
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It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the endless choices when shopping for coffee beans. To help you navigate the coffee bean market, today we’re taking a step back to discuss the main differences between the two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.

But first, some quick facts.

Arabica beans make up about 60% of worldwide coffee bean production. They grow at higher altitudes and thrive in cooler temperatures of 15 to 24ºC. Arabica beans are primarily grown in South America and Africa.

Robusta beans make up most of the remaining 40% of worldwide coffee bean cultivation. They can grow at lower altitudes and thrive in warmer temperatures of 24 to 30ºC. Robusta is mainly grown in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.

So, which should you choose? Here are their top differences to help you decide which will suit your taste and lifestyle better.

Taste

Arabica coffee beans tend to have a smoother, sweeter taste with hints of fruits, berries, chocolate or sugar. They come in a wide range of varieties depending on where they are cultivated.

Arabica beans can be sweet and soft but also sharp and tangy. The fun part is trying Arabica beans from different regions to see which you like best.

Coffee cherries growing from coffee plants
Coffee beans develop inside these cherry look-alikes that grow from coffee plants. Photo from Rodrigo Flores.

Robusta coffee beans, on the other hand, taste stronger, harsher and more bitter. They have less than half the sugar in Arabica. If you enjoy espresso blends—especially classic Italian ones—there’s a chance you will like Robusta. Robusta is commonly used in espresso blends because of its deep flavour and ability to produce better crema compared with Arabica.

Coffee lovers from Singapore and Malaysia might find it interesting that popular local kopi (coffee) is brewed from Robusta beans. The much loved traditional Vietnamese coffee is also made using Robusta.

Acidity

Cup of coffee on table
A great cup of coffee will have just the right amount of acidity. Photo from René Porter.

The amount of acid in a coffee influences the experience we get. Acidity is usually perceived as a good thing that gives you a great coffee aftertaste. But too much of it might upset your tummy.

Arabica is acidic, which helps boost its flavour and excite your taste buds, especially in beans with fruity notes.

Robusta has lower acidity levels than Arabica, which also contributes to it tasting less sweet.

However, if you frequently experience acid reflux or heartburn, Robusta coffee might be a more comfortable choice whenever you need a caffeine boost because it’s easier for digestion.

Caffeine Content

coffee and laptop on table
Do you need a perk up at work? Know which bean or blend to choose after reading this guide! Photo from Andrew Neel.

Arabica beans contain 1.5% caffeine, while Robusta beans contain 2.7% caffeine – that’s almost twice. This is another factor to consider if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Best Brewing Methods

You can brew Arabica coffee in many different ways, including using:

  • Drip
  • Espresso machine
  • French press
  • Pour over

Robusta coffee is best brewed using a drip.

Although strictly speaking, a versatile coffee machine will allow you to customise your coffee perfectly, regardless of which type of beans you use.

delonghi la specialista prestigio
The La Specialista Prestigio lets you handcraft your perfect cup of coffee. Choose your grind and temperature settings, then allow its smart technology to perform optimal extraction. Photo from De’Longhi.

If you are still undecided about which coffee beans to go with, you can mix both Arabica and Robusta beans in blends, which many coffee roasters and baristas do.

To start with, try brewing 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta and adjust the blend from there. No harm in enjoying the best of both worlds!

Join our De’Longhi Rewards programme today to enjoy attractive discounts from our partner roasters. Whether it’s Arabica or Robusta beans you prefer, our network of passionate coffee roasters can help you with your selection.

This article features La Specialista Prestigio

Reward Yourself with Discounts

Enjoy up to 20% off our partner roasters' beans and 5% off the eShop when you sign up for De'Longhi Rewards!