Which Is Stronger, Arabica Or Robusta?

New supermarket varieties of coffee are constantly springing up and claiming to be the best since sliced toast. Coffee is the number one beverage consumed by almost 150 million Americans daily. Two primary varieties are available, Arabica and Robusta. So which one is the strongest?

The Robusta coffee bean has a caffeine content of approximately 2.7%, almost double that of the Arabica variety at 1.5%. Robusta is therefore considered to be the stronger coffee, and this difference in potency is also reflected in the harsher and fuller taste of Robusta coffee.

Not all coffees are created equally, which is undoubtedly the case with the old coffee bean. The two main types of coffee, Arabica, and Robusta, are distinctly different in taste, strength, and character. Read on to learn more about these two coffee derivatives and their unique characteristics.

Coffee Culture, A Storm In A Teacup

Billions worldwide wake up every morning to their favorite beverage, coffee or tea. By order of popularity, coffee takes the number one spot in the USA, with 64% of Americans claiming to consume coffee daily.

This staggering statistic is supported by the number of fancy coffee shops and cafés that dot the urban landscape, with new ones springing up every day, all serving Arabica, Robusta, or a blend of the two.

There’s an often-confusing array of coffee flavors and styles on offer. No longer content with the regular or large Americano, Espresso, Latte, or Cappuccino.

Many coffee shops attempt to add a decadent twist to their brews with outlandish names like Nitro Brew, Monkey Spit, Kopi Luwak or Red Eye.

The 2 Main Types Of Coffee

Several factors determine the strength of your favorite cuppa. The beans themselves, the bean roasting method, the brewing method, and the blending and preparation style of the final product are all factors that affect not only the taste but the strength of the coffee itself.

Arabica Coffee

The beans of the Coffea Arabica plant, originating in the Ethiopian highlands, are used to produce the arabica type of coffee and are the most popular coffee, making up around 60% of the coffee produced and consumed worldwide.

Dating back over 1000 years, Arabica is regarded as the oldest coffee species found today. Despite its Ethiopian roots, Arabica gets its name from the fact that it was exported via Arabia in earlier times.

Arabica is an expensive coffee to produce, as it’s delicate and sensitive to altitude and weather. It is also slow growing, taking up to seven years to reach full maturity. In addition, the berries ripen at different times. Therefore, the best quality coffee comes from those picked by hand.

Arabica is acidic, sweet-tasting, and has floral undertones, including chocolate, fruit, nuts, and even caramel. Cold brewing brings out its distinctive sweet and pleasant flavors.

Compared to other coffees, specifically a pure Robusta, Arabica is milder, with a weaker, more subtle taste. Varieties of Arabica include Katura, Pacamara, Typica, and Villalobos. These days, Arabica is grown mainly in Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Most gourmet coffees are a pure original or blend of Arabica coffee beans. But, curiously, and despite its popularity and wide distribution, Arabica is under threat from deforestation and is therefore considered an endangered species.

Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffee, as its name implies, is a hardy plant less sensitive to environmental factors and produces crops abundantly. Therefore, due to their yield and the fact that it reaches maturity more quickly than Arabica, they are easier to process.

Robusta beans are also less prone to attacks by parasitic pests. They are, therefore, very resilient and usually cheaper on the wholesale market.

Robusta is also less acidic and has stronger, sometimes more bitter, flavors. In their unroasted form, Robusta beans have a harsh, pungent odor resembling raw nuts. They are also less diverse in their varieties than the Arabica, which starts its life smelling like wild berries.

Like their Arabica cousins, the Robusta canephora plant originated in Africa, specifically western Sub-Saharan and central Africa. However, Robusta is a newer coffee species than Arabica, making up around 40% of coffee consumed globally.

Robusta is grown in many Polynesian regions and the islands of Borneo. It has also been naturalized in the Caribbean and some central American countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In addition, a significant percentage of Robusta coffee is produced in Vietnam, thanks to its favorable climate.

Due to its harsher, less smooth taste, coffee aficionados sometimes regard Robusta as inferior in quality compared to Arabica. Thus, coffee producers and baristas often use Robusta as a filler or in the composition of lower-grade coffee blends.

The strong taste of Robusta and its caffeine content almost twice that of Arabica doesn’t mean it is not popular. On the contrary, Italians use a 10% to 15% mix of Robusta to produce that earthy, adrenaline-inducing espresso with a foamy head that Italian coffee culture is well known for.

An interesting fact is that Robusta is also used medicinally as a diuretic, stimulant, and antioxidant and in treating spasmodic asthma.

So Which Coffee Is The Winner, Arabica Or Robusta?

Both Arabica and Robusta coffees are widely distributed and consumed. However, the average coffee drinker will laud Arabica as superior, which probably goes without saying, as it has higher consumption rates than Robusta.

Arabica contains more sugar and fats, with a fragrant, mild flavor. Robusta is less acidic, yet it is a lot stronger than Arabica.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages in coffee and coffee blend production. Coffee really is a matter of personal choice and taste.

An interesting fact is that although Arabica and Robusta make up the overwhelming majority of coffee produced, other coffee beans are grown.

Liberaca and a sub-species, Excelsa, are another two types found, but they are far less popular and make up a tiny proportion of the coffee market.


Although Arabica is considered a milder and more fragrant coffee, making it popular with baristas and coffee connoisseurs, the stronger variety is cheaper. Robusta is, therefore, also found in most supermarkets and primarily used to produce instant coffee and more inexpensive ground coffee blends. Both coffee types have a solid footing in the world of coffee culture.


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