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What is Robusta coffee?

Black coffee caffeine coffee crema high caffeine Robusta

Robusta coffee or Coffea canephora is one of the two primary species of coffee beans used in the production of coffee beverages, with the other being Arabica. In fact Robusta is the parent of Arabica. 

Robusta coffee was possibly first discovered and cultivated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire) in Central Africa. The plant was first identified in the late 19th century, around the 1890s. Since then, it has spread to various other regions with suitable climates for cultivation.

It is widely accepted that Arabica coffee beans are superior to Robusta, and therefore the majority of Robusta beans are used in the mass production of cheaper coffee and instant coffee. However that doesn't mean that there aren't premium quality Robusta beans available. And they certainly have their place in the world of speciality coffee blends.

What are the characteristics of Robusta coffee?

Morning Glory Kaffe Crema House Blend coffee

Robusta coffee beans have several distinct qualities that not only set them apart from Arabica beans, but can also be particularly helpful when creating certain speciality blends. Our Morning Glory Kaffe Crema House Blend coffee is deliberately 50% Robusta and 50% Arabica, and the Robusta used are a high quality to ensure a premium blend. We used Robusta coffee in our blend specifically for these properties:

Strong Flavour
Robusta beans are known for their strong, robust flavour. They tend to have a more bitter and earthy taste compared to the milder and sweeter flavour of Arabica beans. The flavour is often described as nutty or woody.

High Caffeine Content
Robusta coffee beans typically contain more caffeine than Arabica beans, in fact usually twice as much. This higher caffeine content contributes to the bitter taste and gives Robusta coffee a reputation for being more bitter and astringent.

Robusta coffee is often characterised by a full-bodied, thick, and creamy texture. This makes it a popular choice for espresso blends, as it can create a rich and dense crema on top of espresso shots.

Robusta coffee is often associated with bitterness, which can be less appealing to some coffee drinkers. However, this bitterness can be well balanced in blends with Arabica beans.

Crema Formation
Due to its higher content of crema-producing compounds, Robusta is often used in espresso blends to enhance the crema on top of espresso shots.

Our Morning Glory blend is a subtle yet powerful blend of coffees from around the world to give a super smooth, well rounded cup of coffee. It generates a deep crema that hides the smooth caffeine hit of an espresso. The blend also brings a hidden depth of flavour in milk coffee drinks. We have roasted this coffee to a dark roast which allows the individual coffees to shine and make this an excellent experience. 

Robusta coffee also has these additional properties:

Disease Resistance
Robusta coffee plants are hardier and more resistant to pests and diseases than Arabica plants. This makes them easier to cultivate in regions with less favourable growing conditions.

Lower Acidity
Robusta beans generally have lower acidity compared to Arabica beans. This can make Robusta coffee seem less bright and fruity but more consistent in taste, even in different growing conditions.

Higher Yields
Robusta coffee plants tend to produce higher yields of beans compared to Arabica plants. This makes Robusta a more cost-effective choice for many coffee growers.

Heat Tolerance
Robusta coffee plants can tolerate higher temperatures and lower altitudes than Arabica plants. They are often grown at lower elevations in tropical regions.

Harsh and Earthy Aroma
Robusta coffee often has a more pronounced, sometimes harsh aroma. It is commonly used in instant coffee production because of its ability to retain flavour during processing.

Robusta vs Arabica:

Here you can see at a glance the differences between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.

Arabica Robusta
Growth height 1000-2000 m.a.s.l 0-700 m.a.s.l
World production 70-75% 25-30%
Tree height 5m 2-10m
Vulnerability Vulnerable to disease  Disease resistant
Caffeine content 0.8 - 1.4% 1.7 - 4% (double)
Chemistry Complex chemical structure Fewer flavour compounds
Price Highest About 1/3 cheaper
Ripening temp 15-24C 24-30C
Time to blossom 7-9 months 9-11 months
Shape Oval bigger bean Rounder smaller bean
Acidity Higher Lower
Taste Sweet pleasant, from fruity to floral to nuts and dark chocolate Intensive, full body, more bitter, woody, nutty, stronger
Usage Suits all brew methods Instant, Pods, Italian Espresso

Which countries produce speciality-grade Robusta coffee?

It's important to remember that the quality of Robusta coffee can vary widely depending on factors such as the growing region, processing method, and the care taken during cultivation. While Robusta is considered inferior to Arabica in terms of flavour, there are high-quality Robusta beans available that can produce a coffee with a unique and enjoyable taste profile, especially when used in the right blend or preparation method.

Speciality Robusta coffee is produced in several countries around the world. Some of the countries known for producing specialty Robusta coffee include:

Vietnam is one of the largest producers of Robusta coffee globally, and it also produces speciality-grade Robusta beans, particularly in regions like Dak Lak and Lam Dong.

India produces Robusta coffee primarily in the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Some regions within these states, such as Coorg and Chikmagalur in Karnataka, are known for producing speciality-grade Robusta beans.

While Brazil is more famous for its arabica coffee production, it also cultivates Robusta beans in some regions, especially in the southeastern part of the country.

Regions like Lampung and Java in Indonesia produce Robusta coffee, and some of these beans may meet speciality-grade standards.

Uganda is a significant producer of Robusta coffee, and some of its beans can qualify as speciality grade, particularly those from regions like Bugisu and Mount Elgon.

These countries produce specialty Robusta coffee through careful cultivation, processing, and quality control measures to ensure that the beans meet the high standards required for speciality-grade designation.

Why not add a 200g bag of our Morning Glory Kaffe Crema House Blend to your next order to give it a try.

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