Source: The Coffee Quest
It is often on the packaging of coffee. Sometimes not... Is this coffee arabica or not? So there are different types of coffee beans . Usually we are looking for arabica coffee. But what does this mean? And why is 100% arabica coffee considered superior? In this blog we tell you a little more about 100% arabica coffee, and also a little bit about robusta coffee.
What is Arabica coffee
Whether the coffee is 100% arabica has to do with the species of the coffee plant. There are many different coffee plants in the world, but three of them are the best known. At number 1 is Coffea arabica[ 1 ] (the scientific name of the plant that produces arabica coffee) and at number 2 is Coffea canephora (better known as robusta coffee). At number 3 is Coffea liberica, but you will hardly ever find it in the packs of coffee on the market, so we will leave this variety for what it is for now.
The clear difference between the two best-known types of coffee relates to taste, cultivation and price, among other things.
The taste of Arabica coffee
Okay, there's no arguing about taste, that's a given. But we can still say that arabica coffee generally has MORE pronounced flavors. Most of the fruity flavors in coffee come from the arabica coffee plant. This is probably why 100% arabica coffee is so popular. But very often coffee is not 100% arabica either, and it is a mix with robusta coffee.
The taste of robusta coffee is a bit more bitter . And it is especially in espressos , or drinks based on espressos (such as cappuccinos, americanos and lattes), that a bitter and strong taste is also sought after. Especially for this purpose, robusta coffee is used to give the coffee a little more power! If you start mixing the coffee types, a melange is created, a blend of different coffee beans.
Finally, robusta coffee contains more caffeine , which perhaps reinforces the idea of "strong coffee".
The 100% Arabica coffee label
Coffee explicitly labeled 100% arabica does not contain Robusta. Major coffee brands often use this label to signify that their coffee is of high quality, which is also what consumers have in mind, according to Hanna Neuschwander, Director of Communications and Strategy at World Coffee Research . She explains that when Arabica dominated the world market there was no reason to label coffee in this way. But when Robusta made its advance in the mid-20th century, the need arose to differentiate between the various types.
It sometimes happened that coffee brands added robusta to their blends to reduce costs (Robusta is a lot cheaper than Arabica). So for burners that did not do this, an important reason arose to distinguish themselves from the rest[ 2 ].
Did you know that all freshly roasted coffee beans from Zwarte Roes are 100% Arabica?
Quality Arabica coffee
100% Arabica should not be interpreted as a quality mark. It is an indication of what is in the bag of coffee beans. It simply means that there is no robusta in it. In practice, Arabica coffee is often superior and has some quality characteristics than Robusta, but there is also just very bad and cheap Arabica coffee.
Hanna also explains that if you want a good indication of the quality of the coffee, it is best to look at the cupping score of the coffee. Coffees that score higher than 80 are specialty coffee . Most supermarket coffees are commodity quality and have scores between 65 and 80.
Arabica coffee cultivation and price
The name may already say it, but the robusta coffee plant is much more robust in nature than arabica coffee. The arabica coffee plant is much more susceptible to disease and has been threatened by parasites in the past. This is also why robusta contains more caffeine; it is a natural defense mechanism of the plant against unwanted intruders.
Despite the fact that not all coffee is 100% Arabica coffee, the largest part of the world harvest is Arabica coffee. Arabica coffee is more difficult to harvest and grow. Robusta coffee only grows low , arabica coffee only grows high . In a mountainous area around the equator, also called the coffee belt , the arabica coffee plant does best! There is also shade here, the humidity is ideal and the temperature is not too high. Quite a few requirements that significantly increase the average price compared to robusta coffee!
Read also: Where does coffee come from?
Arabica coffee is the dominant coffee variety on the market. Arabica coffee beans grow at very specific heights in areas with very special climates. The Arabica coffee beans have a more delicate taste than the Robusta coffee beans and are therefore often seen as superior.
The price of arabica coffee beans is therefore higher than the price of robusta coffee beans. The label 100% arabica, which you encounter on many packages, should not be confused with the quality of the coffee. In addition to very good Arabica coffee, there is also bad Arabica coffee. These are often used in supermarket blends. If you are really looking for a specific coffee or a specific quality, then it is better to look at the cupping score and the flavor profile of the coffee.