Coffee World Tour: What is Robusta Coffee?

Robusta coffee is a type of coffee that is known for its strong, full-bodied flavour. Robusta coffee beans are also used to make espresso and are often used in blends with Arabica beans to create a more balanced flavour. Robusta coffee is grown in countries like Vietnam, Brazil, and India and accounts for 40% of the world coffee production.

Where is Robusta coffee grown?

Robusta coffee is grown in countries like Vietnam, Brazil, and India. With a lower altitude, more weather resistant strains, it means Robusta can be mass produced

What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee

The main difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee is the taste. Robusta coffee is known for its strong, full-bodied flavour, while Arabica coffee is more mellow and nuanced. Robusta coffee beans also have more caffeine than Arabica beans. However, as Robusta coffee is usually roasted for longer, giving it a darker roast, they become more brittle and lighter, meaning that you may find you have more volume of beans for the same weight in your recipe, so if you have been exclusively Arabica beans for some time, it may take some dialling in to make a good espresso.

The Science of Robusta Coffee

In Espresso Coffee: The Science of Quality, authors Andrea Illy and Rinantonio Viani state that “Arabica has lower levels of caffeine, amino acids and chlorogenic acids in comparison to Robusta, but 60% more total oils. Chlorogenic acids contribute to astringent notes, so the reduced amounts in arabica favours its final cup quality. It is known that many aromatic volatile compounds are dissolved (trapped) in oil droplets and released during brewing, so the oil fraction may explain some differences in cup quality between arabica and Robusta, particularly in espresso.”

Third Wave Robusta Coffee

Third wave coffee is a term used to describe the current movement of specialty coffee. Third wave coffee shops focus on sourcing high quality beans, roasting them to bring out the best flavours, and brewing them using skilled methods. This results in a cup of coffee that is of much higher quality than what is typically found in mass-produced coffee. Some people believe that robusta coffee can not produce the same quality as Arabica coffee. However, there is a growing movement of coffee roasters and shops who are focused on sourcing and roasting high quality robusta beans to create a cup of coffee that is just as good, if not better, than Arabica coffee.

What does Robusta coffee taste like?

Robusta coffee is known for its strong, full-bodied flavour. Some people describe the taste as being similar to that of a tire or a rubber band. While this may not sound appealing, many people enjoy the bold flavour of robusta coffee. Similarly, much of the instant coffee that is found in supermarkets may be a blend of robusta and arabica coffee varieties. Whether you want to try it or not comes to your own preferences, but any beans produced with the same amount of care for the the process as Arabica beans can provide an exciting taste. So even though some connoisseurs will turn their noses up, there are some really exciting producers around.

How should I brew Robusta Coffee?

Robusta coffee beans are best brewed using a drip coffee maker like a chemex coffee maker, French press, or espresso machine. For drip coffee makers, use a coarse grind and brew for 3-4 minutes. For a French press, use a coarse or medium grind and brew for 4 minutes. For espresso, use a fine grind and brew for 25-30 seconds.

What is the caffeine content of Robusta coffee?

Robusta coffee beans have about twice the amount of caffeine as arabica, and with a darker roast, you are using more beans per gram of coffee, so that caffeine increase can be really noticeable for a lot of people. Whether that’s a good thing or not will be for you to decide.

Where can I buy Specialty Robusta Coffee?

Many specialty roasters stay away from Robusta coffee, but there are some out there that deal in small batch robusta coffee. However there are some brands that specialise in Robusta Coffee, like Cannonball Coffee Company that have freshly roasted Robusta coffee beans.


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