Fine Robusta? WTF? What is that supposed to be?
Robusta coffee is increasingly conquering the specialty market. We take a closer look and explain why Robusta has earned its place in the specialty market.
Table of contents
Robusta? Arabica? What is behind the terms?
Switch on the coffee machine, wait until it heats up... Oh, you could just take a closer look at the coffee packaging of the roaster you trust, he's certainly put some effort into it. Ah yes, mhmmm, 70% Arabica, 30% Robusta...somehow heard before - but what does that actually mean now exactly?
Basically, coffee can be roughly divided into two major groups: Canephora and Arabica.
Arabica beans usually grow at higher altitudes between 1000-2000m above sea level, are small mimosas in cultivation and ripen quickly. Their caffeine content is just under 1-1.5%, the sugar content around 6-9%. Elongated and curved, they come out of their shells very elegantly and are characterized by noble, diverse taste nuances. Fruity flavor explosions and a slight acidity are the constant companion of the Arabica bean.
Canephora beans, on the other hand, tend to be lowlanders. They feel most comfortable at altitudes up to 700m. They are hardy, as disease, heat or humidity can do little to them. With a caffeine content of 2-3.5%, they literally open your eyes. Due to their low oil and sugar content, they are characterized primarily by bitter substances and a strong crema. From a purely external point of view, they are the little, round brother of the Arabica bean. You can also recognize them by the straight dividing line in the middle of the bean. And their taste? Full-bodied, earthy-chocolatey notes and a good dose of bitterness.
But wait - where is the Robusta now?
Fun Fact: What we commonly refer to as Robusta beans is actually a variety, or subspecies, of the plant Coffea Canephora. The two terms are used interchangeably in our vernacular, although they actually refer to only a subset. You can think of it as talking about Golden Delicious, but referring to apples in general.
Robusta - a coffee bean with image problems
Brazil and Ethiopia are among the typical growing regions for Arabica coffee. Their share of the world market is just under 60 percent, while Robusta beans, which are mainly grown in Vietnam, India and Indonesia, account for around 40 percent. Robusta cultivation, however, is becoming increasingly popular and its share is steadily expanding. This is also related to its "image change" to quality coffee. In conversations about Robusta, phrases such as:
"Robusta is cheap, so that's what they're using to bulk up the blends so they can be sold cheaper."
"Robusta always has poor quality."
But does our Robusta rightly have to accept these statements, or is there undreamed-of potential slumbering in it?
Robusta - is it as bad as its reputation?
100% Arabica is not a sign of quality
Due to the completely different growing conditions, there are of course differences in taste between Arabica and Robusta beans. But this would be like comparing the taste of a raspberry with that of a gooseberry. Both bushes produce flavorful fruit, but their flavors go in completely different directions. Arabica coffee beans are more complex and fruity in flavor than Robusta beans. They are characterized by a light to intense acidity and exhibit a wide range of flavors. Beans from the Canephora plant, on the other hand, are basically more chocolatey-nutty, a bit earthy and bitter. However, this can also manifest itself in subtle caramel and toffee tones or the finest dark chocolate notes.
Bella Italia - Chocolate, Crema & Amore
The proportion of Robusta beans in Italian roasts is usually quite high. Their advantage: a round, full-bodied taste and a rich crema. This is because Robusta contains fewer coffee oils and the crema is therefore dense and long-lasting. You can find this blend of Arabica and Robusta in our Choc'n'Brew, for example.
Only about 5% of all Arabica beans worldwide are traded as specialty coffee.
Many large industrial roasters and companies use the designation 100% Arabica as a brand value and want to suggest the best coffee. It is worth taking a closer look here. In connection with Robusta, the term "Fine Robusta" has recently become increasingly popular on the specialty market. But what exactly is meant by this?
Third Wave coffee and Robusta - how do they fit together?
Fine Robusta - the new star on the specialty coffee market?
In recent years, the green coffee market has seen the development of more complex, exciting Robusta beans in terms of taste, which, due to their high-quality cultivation and specialist processing, can be clearly assigned to the specialty coffee sector. In addition to chocolaty, earthy aromas, these beans also show off with notes of stone fruits, berries, but also a certain spiciness, leading to a unique taste experience.
In our 100% Fine-Robusta WTF, for example, you'll find walnut, fine marzipan and a hint of caramel toffee.
The market for Fine Robusta is as fresh and new as our WTF. It is therefore definitely worth examining this development with a barista's eye.
So our moral of the story is: Give Robusta a chance - because there's a lot of potential in these beans that has yet to be uncovered!