Arabica versus Robusta: Coffee Beans Explained

The Marketing Manager of De’Longhi UK explains the difference between the main coffee beans, and which one is best…


Q. There has been much debate as to which type of coffee is the best; arabica or robusta. The general consensus seems to be that arabica is far superior. Can you tell us a bit about the essential differences between them, and how to choose between them?

A. There are three major varieties of coffee: the robusta, arabica, and the blended types. Robusta grows best in altitudes that are below 2,000 feet above sea level. Robusta is less flavourful and less aromatic than arabica. As more robusta varieties are grown worldwide, these plants are normally purchased as a ‘filler’ bean for instant coffees in order to keep down costs. This bean is not usually used in gourmet coffee roasts, however it has twice the caffeine of arabica and is often blended with it to provide a more intense coffee experience with a thicker crema.

Arabica grows best in altitudes beyond 3,000 feet above sea level. These plants are considered a high quality bean and produce very flavourful and aromatic coffee. Arabica plants demand more rigid growing requirements and are more expensive. The beans are low in caffeine, low in acidity and high in flavour and aroma.

Blending varieties of coffee for the ultimate taste requires combining those beans that complement one another, with characteristics that enhance the final product. Several other varieties of coffee exist nowadays. All of these varieties are prepared from the blends, which are mixed with other varieties to provide new flavours. You can find out your ideal coffee flavour by visiting Answer a few questions and we’ll point you in the right direction.