Robusta coffee

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Unroasted (so-called 'green') robusta beans

Robusta is a sturdy species of coffee bean with higher acidity and high bitterness; it is used primarily in instant coffee, espresso, and as a filler in ground coffee blends. The bean comes from the Coffea robusta variety of the Coffea canephora plant (widely known itself by the synonym Coffea robusta) which has its origins in central and western sub-Saharan Africa.[1] Robusta is easy to care for, has a greater crop yield, has almost double the amount of caffeine and more antioxidants,[2] and is less susceptible to disease than arabica coffea. Roasted robusta beans produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a distinctive, earthy flavour, but usually with more bitterness than arabica due to its high pyrazine content.

Cultivation and use[edit]

About 30% of the coffee produced in the world is robusta.[3] It is mostly grown in Vietnam, where French colonists introduced it in the late 19th century, though it is also grown in Africa and Brazil, where it is often called conilon.[4][5] In recent years, Vietnam, which produces mostly robusta, has surpassed Brazil, India, and Indonesia to become the world's single largest exporter of robusta coffee. Brazil is still the biggest producer of coffee in the world, producing one-third of the world's coffee, though 70% of that is C. arabica.[6]

Robusta is easier to care for and has a greater crop yield than C. arabica, so is cheaper to produce.[7] Roasted robusta beans produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a distinctive, earthy flavour, but usually with more bitterness than arabica due to its pyrazine content.[8][9] Since arabica beans are believed to have smoother taste with less acidity and a richer flavour, they are often considered superior, while the harsher robusta beans are mostly used as a filler in lower-grade coffee blends.[10][11] However, the powerful flavour can be desirable in a blend to give it perceived "strength" and "finish", noticeably in Italian coffee culture. Good-quality robusta beans are used in traditional Italian espresso blends, at about 10-15%, to provide a full-bodied taste and a better foam head (known as crema). It is also used as a stimulant, diuretic, antioxidant, and antipyretic, and relieves spasmodic asthma.[12][13]


Main article: Coffea canephora

Robusta is a species of flowering plant in the family Rubiaceae. Though widely known by the synonym Coffea robusta, the plant is currently scientifically identified as Coffea canephora, which has two main varieties, C. c. robusta and C. c. nganda.[1] The plant has a shallow root system and grows as a robust tree or shrub to about 10 m tall. It flowers irregularly, taking about 10–11 months for cherries to ripen, producing oval-shaped beans. The robusta plant has a greater crop yield than that of arabica, and contains more caffeine – 2.7% compared to arabica's 1.5%.[14] As it is less susceptible to pests and disease,[15] robusta needs much less herbicide and pesticide than arabica.

Originating in upland forests in Ethiopia, robusta grows indigenously in Western and Central Africa from Liberia to Tanzania and south to Angola. It was not recognized as a species of Coffea until 1897,[16] over 100 years after Coffea arabica.[17][18] It is also reportedly naturalized in Borneo, French Polynesia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and the Lesser Antilles.[19]


  1. ^ a b J. Dagoon (2005). Agriculture & Fishery Technology Iv. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 58. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "Antioxidant activity, polyphenols, caffeine and melanoidins in soluble coffee: The influence of processing conditions and raw material". Elsevier Ltd. 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Plenty of Coffee Too Few Drinkers -". 13 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  4. ^ A. Rami Horowitz (2004). Insect pest management: field and protected crops. Springer. p. 41. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Roseane M Santos (2009). An Unashamed Defense of Coffee. Xlibris Corporation. p. 269. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "EXPORTS BY EXPORTING COUNTRIES TO ALL DESTINATIONS: July 2011". International Coffee Organization. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Miyanari, Walter (2008). Aloha Coffee Island. Savant Books & Publications. p. 7. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Andrew J. Taylor, Robert Linforth (2010). Food Flavour Technology. John Wiley and Sons. p. 68. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Wintgens, Jean Nicolas (2009). Lxbz7TG5wwAC&pg=PA799#v=onepage&q&f=false Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production: A Guidebook for Growers Check |url= value (help). Wiley-VCH. p. 799. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Miyanari, Walter (2008). Aloha Coffee Island. Savant Books & Publications. p. 6. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  11. ^ The West Indies year book 1938. Thomas Skinner & Co. 1938. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  12. ^ Reynolds, Richard (February 1, 2006). "Robusta's Rehab". CoffeeGeek. Coffee Geek. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  13. ^ Robertson, Carol (2010). The Little Book of Coffee Law. American Bar Association. p. 52. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Mark Nesbitt (2005). The Cultural History of Plants. Taylor & Francis. p. 177. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Benoit Daviron; Stefano Ponte (2005). The Coffee Paradox: Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive Promise of Development. Zed Books. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-84277-457-1. 
  16. ^ Pierre, Jean Baptiste Louis ex Froehner, Albrecht. 1897. Notizblatt des Königlichen botanischen Gartens und Museums zu Berlin 1(7): 237–238
  17. ^ Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 172
  18. ^ Mark Nesbitt (2005). The Cultural History of Plants. Taylor & Francis. p. 176. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Coffea canephora

External links[edit]