Arabica vs Robusta. What is the difference?


In the beginning, it was just a coffee plant. A tree growing in a tropical belt with strikingly enticing berries. Then along came Carl von Linné. The 18th century Swedish naturalist who established a system of nomenclature. Naming plants and animals by genus and species. Linné introduced the world to Coffea arabica.

It wasn't until the 19th century that other species of coffee trees were discovered in West Africa. The boldest of these was named the Coffea canephora for its resistance to disease and insects in cultivation. Or robusta.


Coffea arabica Coffea canephora
A variety of flavours including sweetness, fruity acidity and coffee bitterness. Flatter flavour profile limited mainly to earthy and bitter flavours.
100% Arabica excellent for espresso, excellent for filter. Admixture in espresso blends, for making instant coffee.
0,5 - 1,4 % caffeine 1,8-4 % caffeine
Growing in higher regions (Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America) with an emphasis on quality also means higher sweetness. Cultivation in lower regions, mainly in Asia (Vietnam), with an emphasis on quantity. Usually low quality coffee.


Unlike coffee labeled 100% Robusta, coffee packages with pure Arabica have a really significantly large fan base. There are more than a hundred types of coffee trees growing in the world such as arabica, robusta, liberica and others. Well, we certainly don't know them all yet. Why is arabica the most popular of them all? Because it tastes good. It's smooth, sweet, juicy and fragrant.

Arabica is considered the better coffee. Production of this coffee is around 75% of the world's production. As for the coffee plant, it is more difficult to grow. It grows at altitudes ranging from 800 to about 2 000 metres above sea level.

It contains less caffeine than robusta. However, the flavour profile of arabica is much richer than that of robusta. The flavour tends to be sour, but mainly depends on many factors such as processing, roasting, etc.


Green arabica coffee beans before roasting.

ideal environment

800 - 2 200 m above sea level.

Temperate tropical climate (17-27 °C)

caffeine content 0,5-1,4%
ripening period from flower to berries 6-9 months
hardiness low resistance to disease and insects
characteristics Complex flavour full of fruit, flowers, nuts, etc.

MONTENEGRO, Gloria and CHIROUZE M., CHRISTINA CHIROUZE M., CHRISTINA. Cavology: stories and feelings. Translated by Radomir Kucera. Prague: Dobrovsky, 2018. ISBN 9788073905224.


However, quality robusta is popular in espressoblends. This is especially true in countries in southern Europe, where local coffee drinkers like to enjoy bitter and strong coffee. The roast of these blends is also usually darker.

This is the type of coffee they like in Italy and France, for example. Espresso made from blended coffee provides more caffeine thanks to the proportion of robusta. However, this is at the expense of the variety of flavours that pure arabica would boast.


In terms of cultivation itself, the main difference can be seen in production. We cangrow 3-7 kg of arabica per coffee plant. Whereas Robusta produces 8-18 kg. This is a significant difference, which already shows that Robusta can better saturate the commodity coffee market. In the2019 - 2020 season, the world production of Robusta was at 73 million 60 kg bags and less than one percent of that is quality Robusta.

It is also easier for farmers to grow Robusta for the simple reason of higher production and lower price. In addition, they need to gain the security of a steady income for the renovation of their farms, which takes place after about 12-15 years. Besides arabica and robusta, there are many other types of coffee, but they are practically not grown like Coffea charrieriana.

The differences between arabica and robusta are obvious even by sight. Arabica beans are more elongated with a curved groove in the middle. In robustas, we can notice a more rounded shape and a straight groove.

Robusta beans (right) are rounder and more convex with a straight groove in the middle. In contrast, arabica coffee beans (left) are flatter, more oval and the groove is typically 'ace-shaped'.


  1. Coffee arabica is characterised by a sweet and fruity flavour that is (when roasted and prepared correctly) perfectly balanced. These flavours range from subtly floral, citrusy notes to the sweetness of ripe fruit to full nutty, caramel or chocolate flavours. Robusta is much leaner in flavour, essentially combining flat bitterness and earthiness.
  2. Robusta is used by multinational companies to produce mostly instant coffee. The higher quality robusta is involved in the creation of espresso blends. Arabica coffee beansare suitable for a variety of uses. Whether for espresso or any of the alternative coffee brewing methods.
  3. The amount of caffeine is higher in robusta beans. Generally, caffeine in robusta isup to about twice as much as in arabica.
  4. Varieties of Coffea arabica are mainly grown in South and Central America, central-eastern Africa and Indonesia. Robusta dominates in South-East Asia, specifically in Vietnam. Then there are the varieties in India and the Congo.
  5. The sugar content of Arabica coffee beans is much higher than that of Robusta. The higher sweetness makes Arabica coffee more pleasant in taste, which is more varied and delicate.