Arabica Beans vs. Robusta Beans—What’s the Difference?

The main commercial coffee beans are Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta (Coffea Robusta).

Arabica Beans

Arabica plants are more sensitive to temperature and handling, and also more vulnerable to pests.

  • Seventy percent of all coffee beans grown are Arabica, which grows best at higher elevations in tropical or sub-tropical climates.
  • Arabica beans (before roasting) are said to smell of blueberries, giving the roasted beans a sweet smell.
  • Arabica beans are generally more flavorful than Robusta, though not all premium gourmet coffee beans are Arabica.

Robusta Beans

Robusta are hardier plants, tolerating lower elevations and less favorable climate and soil conditions. Robust are grown primarily in Southeast Asia and Africa.

  • Robusta beans are used for most everyday and instant coffees, and have about twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans.
  • Robusta beans (before roasting) are said to conjure smells of oats or peanuts, with a grainy and nutty fragrance.
  • Robusta beans may smell burnt even if roasted properly. Some people compare the smell to burnt plastic or rubber.
In This Section

To learn more about coffee see Coffees of the World—An Overview. For more coffee facts see  All About Coffee.

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