Luxury Arabica and cheaper Robusta beans are strikingly different both in terms of taste and appearance. They are almost impossible to confuse. They're like cats and dogs, with their own distinct varietal differences.
1. Appearance. Robusta beans are almost perfectly round with a straight groove down the centre. Arabica beans have the form of an elongated oval with a curved central line.
2. Bitterness. There is practically no bitterness in Arabica beans, whereas in the case of Robusta, there is a brutal bitterness which is why it is practically not used in its pure form.
3. Aroma. It is almost impossible to confuse the two types of beans in terms of their aroma. The moment you open a packet of Arabica, the aroma of coffee fills the entire space. If you want to sense the aroma of Robusta, you have to smell the very beans themselves.
4. Acidity. Arabica has light and elegant acidity. Robusta is responsible for bitterness.
5. Cost. If you need cheap coffee, then Robust is what you want. You can find Arabica at reduced prices, but these are mechanically picked beans. As a result of mechanical harvesting branches, leaves and a lot of other detritus are also processed thus spoiling the final quality of the drink.
6. Caffeine. If you need an urgent pick-me-up, choose a blend with plenty of Robusta. It contains twice as much caffeine.
7. Uniqueness. Arabica beans contain essential oils that give the coffee unique, enticing notes of citrus, currants, chocolate, nuts and other nuances.
If you need a pick-me-up in a single cup, then Robusta is the coffee to choose. However, Arabica is more suitable if you want to delight in the brightest taste properties of coffee. The ideal drink is a combination of both varieties of beans. Luxury varieties with correctly selected proportions are distinguished by a noble, but not overpowering bitterness. They also possess a certain acidity, unique enticing aroma, as well as excellent energy properties.
How are Arabica and Robusta used to create the different blends and beverages?
All blends can be divided into two groups: 100% Arabica coffee in differing varieties, and those combined with Robusta. Pure Arabica blends differ in terms of their unique taste nuances. Gourmet coffee lovers claim to be able to identify about 1200 of them. On the other hand the second group provides additional strength and cream.
Here are examples of some famous blends:
8. Classic Italian espresso. This is a blend of 90% Arabica beans and 10% Robusta. It is a moderately strong coffee with exquisite bitterness and a lasting cream. In order to reduce the cost of the drink, the amount of Robusta can be increased up to 30%, while certain less reputable coffee house owners can add up to 40% Robusta.
9. 100% Arabica is most often used for milk-free drinks such as ristretto, Americano and espresso-longo. Some drinks use 6, 12 or even more varieties. The quality of the beverages depends to a greater extent on the experience of the barista to correctly calculate the proportions when preparing the drink.
10. A blend of Robusta and Arabica coffee is good for milky drinks such as latte, cappuccino, mochaccino and others.
In elite coffee houses, no more than 10% Robusta is used in blends, maybe even less. This blend is moderately strong with a slight bitterness. Fast food establishments and cafes at service stations use a larger amount of Robusta making the drink bitter and strong, with a weak aroma of coffee.