As coffee drinkers around the world often refer to coffee as “the nectar of the gods” — especially those of us not fit for human company until after our first cup — the tribe that first used coffee seeds to make our favorite beverage actually believed it.
The Oromo tribe, descendants of the Ethiopians who first made coffee, would place a coffee plant on the graves of tribal sorcerers, believing that it grew from the tears of the gods who would cry over the memorial site. While many still debate the effects of coffee on our bodies, minds and spirits (and we’re still not discounting the presence of magical properties), there is one debate that is far more clear — the difference between Arabica coffee and everything else.
What Is Arabica Coffee?
Arabica coffee comes from the beans of a Coffee arabica plant, which originated in Ethiopia. Arabica is the world’s most popular coffee type, equating to over 60% of cups drank. Popular types of Arabica coffee include:
- and much more!
So what is Robusta and Colombian coffee?
Technically, Arabica and Colombian beans are almost the same things.
As the name implies, Colombian and Arabica beans are primarily separate due to the locations they are grown in. Arabica coffee is a type of plant that was initially grown in Arabia while Colombian beans are grown in Colombia.
Technically, Arabica and Colombian beans both come from the same species, the Coffee Arabica plant. However, bean plants in Colombia do not grow as tall due to differences in the climate, and Colombian beans are washed after processing.
In modern coffee terminology, Arabica refers to any Arabica plants grown throughout the world while Colombian beans are a type of Arabica bean that is grown in the tropical climate of Colombia and is a little more processed.
The differences between Arabica and Robusta beans are more noticeable because they are two separate species. As mentioned previously, Arabica plants are a type of plant native to Arabia, and Robusta plants are native to Africa and Indonesia.
Robusta plants can survive in lower altitudes and are more pest and weather resistant. Unlike Arabica plants, Robusta plants mature quickly and have a higher number of beans per plant.
The Arabica plant tends to look taller and have longer branches with less densely packed leaves while the Robusta plant is shorter and rounder with leaves placed closely together.
Robusta beans tend to be rounder than Arabica beans, though the two still look similar enough to be confused with each other.
Do Robusta and Arabica taste the same?
Arabica is widely considered to be the higher quality of the two, for the following reasons:
- Arabica has a more enjoyable taste. Robusta is often said to have notes of burnt tires and rubber — that’s certainly not appetizing!
- Arabica coffees contain about 60% more lipids than robusta coffees. It’s lipids that give coffee its smoothness and allow you detect more subtle nuances of flavor.
- Robusta’s high caffeine content adds to its bitterness. Arabica beans, while still containing a substantial amount of caffeine, are less caffeinated and thus less bitter.
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