The Robusta plant is a variety of coffee plant and one of the two prevalent varieties we use worldwide today. In this article we are looking at the characteristics of the plant that produces the strongest varieties of our favorite drink as well as some of the more unusual uses of this type of coffee.
The Robusta plant's fruits contain more caffeine than those present in Arabica, the other most popular coffee tree variety, and come from Africa. As indicated by the plant's name (Robusta = robust, strong), the Robusta is highly resistant to weather and diseases, which is why its cultivation is much more affordable than those of Arabica. This is due to the high caffeine quantity, which can paralyze and kill some of the insects that threaten the coffee tree. The Robusta plant is best cultivated at a height of up to 2500 feet above sea level and can easily adjust to hot-humid climates. It is mainly grown in West Africa and Southeast Asia and represents 22% of coffee production in the world.
The Robusta fruits do not fall to the ground once ripe, thus it is not imperative to collect them from the plant immediately. The plant needs less time to mature - about half the time required for the Arabica plant - and tends to produce twice as many grains, making it a cheaper option for cultivation.
The Robusta coffee has a neutral flavor but gives density to the body of the beverage, creates a thick cream on the top and produces a slight bitterness. It is used in blends for "filter coffee", instant coffee and blends of the Turkish and Greek coffee.
Both Robusta and Arabica species are of great importance for coffee trading, giving their own distinctive characteristics in the blends. Today most coffee products commercially available are mixtures packed in combinations of both varieties in order to satisfy the consumers’ desired flavors and aromas.
Coffee produced from the Robusta variety is usually much stronger than Arabica as it contains almost twice the amount of Arabica varieties. Robusta tends to produce an earthy almost bitter taste that is much more savory than it's Arabica cousin. This comes down to the caffeine content but also the fact that it contains almost half the natural sugar content contained in Arabica.
Although most commercially available coffee today is usually a blend of both Robusta and Arabica beans it is worth noting that in the instant coffee market Robusta tends to dominate the picture. Popular instant blends will use Robusta to deliver high caffeine kicks from very small amounts of produce (usually a single spoon). We feel however that making proper coffee is a ritual all in itself that deserves the proper amount of time and attention to deliver the best possible experience. Grinding Robusta beans will deliver a highly aromatic experience, unlike using the freeze dried instant efforts. Robusta is most suited to short coffees like ristretto or the more traditional Turkish technique which we mentioned above (and will explore more of in an upcoming series). Finally another interesting fact is that the worlds most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, is made exclusively from Robusta beans, but that is rather down to the very unique process that goes into making it...
We hope you've enjoyed this piece on the Robusta variety and that you will visit us again for a look into Arabica, which incidentally is the bean of choice for all Love My Cup blends.
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