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Coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta

…coffee to make you smile

What’s the difference?

The two best-known types of coffee bean are Arabica, and Robusta, of which more than 60% of the beans produced globally are Arabica.

Arabica is generally held to be higher quality and the plants are both reasonably small and easy to prune. The plants are also known to be affected by their environment and there will be more on this in our next blog.

Arabica has two main varieties, Typica and Bourbon and much of the difference comes down to flavour and characteristics of the beans.

Typica was the first variety to be discovered. It is therefore regarded as the original coffee of the New World. It is also a low-yielding variety that is valued for its excellent cup quality.

Bourbon varieties of Arabica, on the other hand, are often prized for their complex, balanced aromas and have spawned many high-quality mutations and subtypes.

Arabica beans from different countries have distinct characteristics. For example, the coffee named Kona comes from a district of Big Island, Hawaii, where the specific environment gives the coffee characteristics not found elsewhere.

Arabica beans also have a lower caffeine content than Robusta beans but are often considered superior in taste. Smoother and sweeter with flavour notes of chocolate and sugar.

While we’re on the subject of chocolate, Mocha has become synonymous with chocolate-flavoured coffee. Actually, Mocha is a variety of Arabica, specifically grown in Yemen and until recently exported via the port of Mocha. Nowadays, Mocha has become synonymous with a coffee and chocolate flavoured drink, a blend of a cappuccino and a hot chocolate.

Robusta is the second most produced in the world. It grows best in a hot climate with irregular rainfall and the plants are hardier and more disease-resistant than the Arabica variety. Robusta beans contain double the caffeine but are generally considered to have a harsher flavour.

Robusta is widely used in espresso blends because it is known to produce a better crema (the creamy layer found on top of an espresso shot) than Arabica.

Our next blog considers the potential dangers of climate change on coffee production.

…coffee to make you smile
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