Robusta Coffee Tree – Arabica’s Strongest Rival

Robusta Coffee Tree – Arabica’s Strongest Rival

In my last post, Arabica Coffee Tree – The Secret of Starbucks Success, I went through the astonishing world of the Arabica Coffee tree. While much more can be written on Coffea Arabica, today, I will focus on the Robusta Coffee Tree, the only Arabica rival in the market.

While many consider Robusta to be of lesser quality than the Arabica, it still firmly holds a decent market share and a substantial, loyal consumer base.

Robusta Coffee Tree

So Let’s start our robust journey into the universe of today’s “Coffee Knowledge” session if I may call it.

Robusta Coffee is also scientifically known as Coffea canephora and commonly known as Coffea robusta, which is a species of coffee having its roots and origins in central and West sub-Saharan Africa. Same as the Arabica, it is a species of a flowering plant.

As its name entails, it is a robust 10 m tall tree. Cherries take approximately 10 to 11 months to ripen, producing oval beans.

The tree can handle the heat of over 30°C / 86°F and is less prone to disease and pests, thus requiring less “maintenance” from the growers’ side. When it comes to caffeine, Robusta has 2.7% compared to Arabica 1.5%.

History & Origin of the Robusta Tree

From its origins in Ethiopia, Robusta inhabits many central and western African nations such as Angola, Tanzania, Liberia, and Central Africa. It was recognized as a coffee species in 1897, decades after its competitor Coffea Arabica.

It is widely used in instant coffee, E.g., Nescafe 3 in 1 instant mix, espresso, and as a filler to Arabica ground coffee bags to save on dollars or to add the harsh flavor characteristic to the blend.

40% of the world’s produced coffee is Robusta, recently Vietnam became the world’s largest exporter of Robusta with accounting for 40% of the production followed by Brazil (25%), Indonesia (15%), India (6%), and Uganda (4.5%).

French colonists were the first to introduce it in Vietnam in the 19th century. By 1950, the first instant coffee manufacturing plant started operation.

 

Robusta Coffee Characteristics

When roasted, Robusta Coffee beans generate a bold earthy flavor, strong, creamy, full-bodied coffee with an evident bitterness due to pyrazine, which is an organic aromatic compound. Unlike the superior Arabica beans, which are famous for being more acidic, rich in flavor with a smoother taste.

That does not mean that Robusta is useless. On the contrary, high-quality Robusta is widely used in Italy’s coffee society, especially in Italian espresso blends at about 10 to 15% of the time when a powerful strength is desired.

Distinctive crema (foam head), pleasant chocolaty notes, and a full-bodied taste are the reason why Italians use high-quality Robusta beans.

Robusta Coffee Arabica Coffee
  • Can be grown in lower altitudes
  • Harvested between December and February
  • Takes less time to produce fruit
  • Produces higher yields
  • Grown in higher altitudes
  • Collected between November and January
  • Takes more time to produce fruit
  • Produces lower yields

To preserve the quality of Robusta coffee, it should be kept away from light, heat, air, and moisture. To keep the flavor, it is best to store at room temperature, dark place, and airtight container.

Nestle, Nescafe Using Robusta

Nestle started implementing the Nescafe plan in Vietnam in late 2011, culminating at the 2018 announcement of establishing a new NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto capsule production line in Dong Nai Province.

Nescafe

The capsule production line will use raw materials from high quality Vietnamese grown coffee beans for domestic and export consumption through the means of production, processing, and shipping.

The NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto coffee machine and capsule were introduced to the Vietnamese local market in October 2015.

Since then, it became a massive hit among Vietnamese consumers, while 90% of the plant’s production will be exported to many Asian markets Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Nestle established itself as the most significant coffee buyer in Vietnam, with an annual purchase volume of 25% of the total production.

The Vietnamese people are also benefiting from Nestle, the company’s six nationwide factories’ employ more than 2,500 employees.

To ensure quality and as a form of giving back the community, Nestle shot two birds in one stone by providing coffee growers and farmers the adequate training and technical support to ensure proper practices and procedures are applied. This resulted in a considerable improvement in coffee quality and farming standards.

 

William Mackereth, supply chain director of Nestlé Vietnam, said in an interview with the Vietnam Investment Review that they plan to expand their export activities to the USA after sending many containers to Eastern US and considered their collaboration with the Vietnamese government to be of high importance for both parties benefits.

When asked about plans to grow Arabica Coffee, the answer was quite promising: ” Our Nescafé products for both exports and/or local consumption are made with the high-quality Robusta coffee beans produced here in the Central Highlands. There is an opportunity in the future to expand into Arabica”.

Brands Using Robusta

I will list below a few examples of whole bean and ground coffee producers using the Robusta bean:

  • Costa Coffee’s official website states they use the “perfect combination and balance of delicate Arabica and strong Robusta beans.”
  • Borbone Caffe
  • Zombie Coffee
  • Mokaflor Dolce Forte
  • Caffe Corsini
  • Hardy Coffee Company

What’s In It For You? Creamy & Buttery!

Many consider Robusta coffee tree beans to be of lesser quality versus the giant elegant Arabica, but that does not mean it is not a blessing to have a coffee tree that can resist different harsh external conditions and be generous with its outcome.

Let’s face it, Arabica coffee is not affordable for every one and thank God for an alternative that can be available to anyone, and everyone, rich or poor, let alone the significant number of growers, farmers, and their families all benefiting from the tree.

While I lean in favor of Arabica coffee, I never mind high quality, creamy and buttery shot of delightful espresso made of Robusta coffee beans! What is your opinion? Which one would you choose? The comments section is for you to shoot your thoughts!

Jordan.

espresso

13 thoughts on “Robusta Coffee Tree – Arabica’s Strongest Rival

  1. Jordan,

    Are there other coffee beans commonly used besides the Robusta and Arabica?  any up and coming beans in the coffee world (that may not be mainstream yet)?    

     We are often most familiar with mainstream brands like Nescafe.  But fortunately in today’s world, the world has become a much smaller place and this often opens up more of the lesser known options which is pretty awesome.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Yes, there is the Liberica Coffee tree beans which produce around 2% of global production, I don’t see any change in the current situation I think the status quo will stay the same with the total dominance of the dual, Arabica and Robusta.

      I advise you to bookmark my blog as I will be regularly posting articles on new high-quality coffee brands options!

      Thanks,

      Jordan.

  2. I, first of all, thank you for the hard work to bring this website together, As a programmer, Always coffee must be at my side to stay sober at the late-night while coding. Arabica coffee has been my number one preference though it is a bit expensive. Robusta seems to be a good alternative. Even to the side of farmer, Robust looks to a good choice.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing with us such a beautiful article. I love to drink coffee. I drink Arabica coffee. However, I didn’t know about this alternative Robusta coffee alternative before reading your article. So through your article, I learned something new. As far as I know Arabica coffee is expensive and that is why I have restricted my Starbucks visits. And I think robusta coffee might be the right option for me in this case . I certainly appreciate the points you mention about this coffee and much more I have learned through this article. One of them is Borbone Caffe uses Robusta beans. And I say again that I love this brand very much.

    1. Hi Shanta,

      Yes, Robusta Coffee is always a cheaper alternative to Arabica coffee. High-quality Robusta is always a good coffee drink to have.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful article. I really liked your article. I also read your last post about the Arabic coffee tree -The secret of Starbuck success. Now you will write the post about the Robusta Coffee Tree. After I read your article I know that Nestle, Nescafe Using Robusta. I love your articles so much. Your posts are always educative and informative. All the best.

  5. It is becoming a thing for me to always learn something new anything I stop by your blog. I think Robusta coffee, even though it seems to be of lower quality in comparison to arabica coffee, is still a very good brand. To be fair, I’m just learning that robusta is what nestle uses 🤦🏽‍♂️ and that is my own personal coffee brand.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    1. Keep in mind than Nescafe is of one the most popular instant coffee brands worldwide! Did you ever try the Arabica coffee?

      Jordan.

  6. Hi! I found your post very interesting. I appreciated the points about the history of the Robusta tree you mentioned. And there were things I really didn’t know and learnt them here with your post. One of them was the fact that Borbone Caffe uses Robusta beans. I just love this brand and I was surprised I didn’t know this.

    Thank you for this post!

    1. Thank you, Ann,

      The Robusta Coffee tree is part of our daily coffee cups and many of the shelves ground coffee that we use and love.

      Jordan.

  7. As a person who drinks a lot of arabica coffee, I have to say I was not aware of this alternative robusta coffee alternative, so I have definitely learned something new today! I agree that arabica coffee can be expensive to buy and this is exactly why I have limited my starbucks visits, so the robusta coffee beans may be a suitable alternative for me! 

    1. For sure, coffee made from ground robusta beans can be very delightful considering it is a high-quality robusta.

      Thanks, Jazzy. 

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