Arabica and robusta
Arabica and Robusta: what's the difference?
Everyone is used to thinking that arabica is a type of coffee, but this is fundamentally wrong. Let's first understand what the concept of "type" is.
When we say that we like Antonovka apples, we are talking about the sort of apples. The large yellow-green apples that we often find in the supermarket are Golden Delicious. But both Antonovka and Golden Delicious belong to one species: Domestic apple tree (Malus domestica), in addition to which there are thirty-three other plant species that belong to the genus apple tree.
If you draw a parallel, arabica is not an Antonovka, but a Home Apple Tree, that is, not a sort of coffee, but a species.
Arabica is one of the three most common types of coffee tree: Coffea arabica. In addition to it, there are Robusta or Coffea canephora, and Coffea liberica (the fruits of this tree are not eaten, so there is no name other than Latin).
Usually people, asking the barista “What kind of coffee do you have?”, Expect to hear in response about the percentage of Arabica and Robusta. In a good coffee house, they will be dumbfounded by something like: "We now have Guatemala espresso from the San Pedro farm of mixed varieties of Typica and Bourbon, and in the filters we brew Kenya Caring AA varieties of SL28."
Why, then, do most consumers know only about Arabica and Robusta, and few have heard about Tipika, Bourbon, Katurra, Katuay and other other types of coffee like Arabica? Because coffee houses with a new approach to coffee have just begun to appear with us, and in many coffee houses, still brewed bitter coffee brewed from a blend of arabica and robusta.
Robusta and arabica are very different from each other, because these are different types of plants. Robusta contains almost twice as much caffeine and chlorogenic acid, and Arabica contains twice as much lipids and sugars. Caffeine and chlorogenic acid give bitterness, and lipids and sugars give an intense taste and greater acidity potential.
If you fry clean robusta, then in most cases the coffee will turn out with the taste of burnt rubber. This is because caffeine and chlorogenic acid are the main chemical elements that make coffee taste bitter.
The taste inherent in a particular cultivar of arabica, grown in a particular geographical region, is revealed during the breakdown of lipids and sugars. In a cup of coffee brewed from arabica, you can feel notes of blackcurrant, red berries, black tea or lime. It is impossible to achieve such taste shades if coffee of the robusta type is used.
The logical question is, if arabica has a great advantage in terms of taste, why do many coffee houses still use mixtures of arabica and robusta?
It's all about profit. Robusta is much cheaper, and using a mixture of two types of coffee in a coffee shop is much more profitable than one hundred percent Arabica. And consumers are used to thinking that coffee should be bitter, and therefore they drink it with milk and sugar, not noticing a bad taste.