The two most important (and well-known) coffee plants are: Coffea robusta and Coffea Arabica.
Arabica and Robusta
Arabica (Coffea Arabica)
- Higher altitudes (1000-2000m)
- Delicate plant, high demands on soil and climate.
- Faster maturity (9 months)
- 15-25°C / Coffea Arabica needs moderate climate
- 15-17% / Higher percentage leads to a smoother texture
- 6-9% / Arabica is the "sweeter" coffee bean
- Oblong, round, curved center cut
- Edler, feiner Geschmack.
- Noble, refined taste. Due to slower growth more pronounced flavor, fine acidity.
Robusta (Coffea Canephora)
- Lower altitudes (0-700m)
- Resistant to disease, heat and humidity.
- Slower maturity (10-11 months)
- 20-30°C / Coffea Canephora thrives under higher temperatures
- 10-12% / Lower percentage makes thick and stable cream with italian espresso blends
- 3-7% / Low sugar leads to a more bitter taste
- Small, round, straight center cut
- Strong flavor with full body and pronounced earthy notes.
- Usually robusta is more bitter than Arabica.
Robusta and quality
As the requirements regarding growing and harvesting robusta beans are lower than for arabica, the robusta variety the "cheaper" bean and therefore used in lower quality roasted coffees. Unfortunately, this has led to a bad reputation in terms of quality of the bean itself.
This reputation is unjustified - just as there are Arabica beans of lower quality, Robusta beans of very high quality can convince the coffee experts.
Especially Italian espresso blends with a significant portion of (high quality) Robusta are a good example for this misconception.