Thursday, 23 April 2015 11:18

Differences between Arabica and Robusta Coffee

Although arabica and robusta coffee may appear similar appearance - there are a number of differences that significantly differentiate these two popular species of coffee. The following list points out a few basic differences. 

1. Environmental Conditions:

The arabica coffee shrub typically grows between 2.5-4.5 meters (8.2-14.7 ft) in height, requires a temperature between 15°-24°C (59-75°F) and an annual rainfall of about 1200-2200 mm/yr. Robusta grows slightly taller at 4.5-6.5 meters (8.2-21.3 ft), requires a warmer temperatures of 18°-36°C (64-97°F) and slightly more rainfall (2200-3000 mm/yr) than arabica. In terms of yield, Arabica produces less coffee per hectare than robusta, making the cost of growing arabica much higher.

Arabica vs Robusta: Rainfall, Altitude and Temperature

2. Coffee Bean Shape:

Arabica coffee beans are have a slightly larger/elliptical shape than the smaller, more round robusta beans. Structural differences also exist between the beans, which may explain why both beans roast differently under identical conditions.  

Arabica  Robusta 


3. Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acid:

Due to their bitter taste, both caffeine and chlorogenic acid (CGA) are believed to act as deterrents for insects and animals. Because Robusta contains about twice the concentration of both caffeine and CGA, it the plant much more 'robust' in the wild.

Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic Acid

Arabica vs Robusta: Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acid

4. Lipid and Sugar Content

Arabica contains almost 60% more lipids and almost twice the concentration of sugars than robusta. As a result these sugars  play an important role during the roasting process in creating several key aromatic compounds, as well as contributing to the body due to its greater level of dissolved solubles.


Arabica vs Robusta: Sugars and Lipids

5. Pollination:

Arabica is self-pollinating plant, meaning the plant will have fewer mutations and fewer variations throughout its life cycle as compared to robusta. 

6. Number of Chromosomes:

Arabica has double the number of chromosomes at 44 than robusta at 22.  
While not comprehensive these are some of the basic differences between the both coffee species. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Read 80851 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 18:04
More in this category: « Anatomy of a Coffee Bean