The most common coffee species: Arabica and Robusta

The coffee plant is grown in the equatorial tropics in the presence of an alternation of humid - dry climates, not subject to cold or frost, with an average temperature between 15° and 30° C .

It is an evergreen shrub that belongs to the Rubiaceae family, Coffea genus, of which there are over one hundred different species. The most widespread and cultivated are Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora or Robusta.

What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

differenza chicco arababica robusta

In general, the main difference between arabica and robusta is definitely the taste. Robusta is characterized by a more intense, bitter flavor with notes of wood, while arabica is more aromatic characterized by a marked acidity. Furthermore, robusta contains more caffeine than arabica.
But let's see all the differences between Arabica and Robusta in detail.

The Origins

  • Coffea Arabica is mainly cultivated in Central and South America, in particular, in Colombia and Brazil. Eastern Africa and Ethiopia, India and the Island of New Guinea.
  • Coffea Robusta is cultivated in West Africa, tropical Asia, Uganda, Vietnam and Brazil.

The Plant

  • Arabica: grows between 700 m and 2000 m altitude at an ideal temperature between 15°-24° C and reproduction occurs through self-pollination and is very delicate.
  • Robusta: it is cultivated between 200 m and 900 m above sea level at a temperature between 24°-30° C. Reproduction takes place by wind and insects and the plant is much more resistant. This plant can mature faster than Arabica and is more productive, easier to grow and harvest.

Shape of the Grain

If we look at an Arabica and Robusta coffee bean we can see that they have different characteristics:

  • the Arabica coffee bean is green in color and has an elongated and oval shape with an "s"-shaped groove;
  • the Robusta coffee bean is smaller yellow-brown in colour, with a rounded shape with a straight groove.

Genetic Characteristics

Arabica differs from Robusta in terms of aromatic complexity.
Specifically, Arabica contains more oils (15-17% vs 10-12%) which give it a consistency softer and more sugars (6-9% vs 3-7%). Furthermore, it has 44 chromosomes compared to 22 in Robusta.
In Robusta caffeine is greater and can vary between 1.7% - 4% versus 0.8% - 1.4% in Arabica, giving the drink that typical body of ours expressed.

Organoleptic Characteristics - Taste

caratteristiche organolettiche caffè

The main differences can be seen in the taste which:

  • in the Arabica it is more delicate, fruity, less bitter with a marked acidity;
  • in the Robusta it is less complex, more full-bodied and bitter with a woody aftertaste.

Do people drink more Arabica or Robusta coffee in Italy?

In Southern Italy, blends richer in Robusta are preferred, with more roasted beans that produce a more bitter coffee, while Arabica is mainly consumed in Northern Italy.