Your guide to Robusta Coffee
For those who like their coffee strong and enjoy intense flavours, woody notes and powerful aromas, Robusta is must-try.
If you’ve yet to experience the world of Robusta, in our below coffee lover's guide, we explore everything you need to know about this type of bean, answering our most frequently asked questions - from 'What is Robusta?' to 'What’s the difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee?'
What is Robusta coffee?
Today, it is estimated that there are over 120 different species of coffee plants grown in the world. However, only two main types are grown commercially and on a large-scale - Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora.
The Coffea canephora (or Robusta plant) was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late-19th century and produces the world’s second most popular coffee bean - Robusta. Last year around 73.11 million 60 kg bags of Robusta beans were produced.
This much-loved bean owes its popularity to the sturdy nature of the Coffea canephora. Unlike Arabica plants, (which produce Arabica coffee) the Coffea canephora grows at lower altitudes, in higher temperatures and is more resistant to the problem of disease, rot or fruit-ruining pests, making it a more convenient variety for many farmers.
Which countries grow Robusta beans?
As Robusta is easier and cheaper to produce, you’ll find this type of coffee grown all around the globe. The world’s largest producer is Vietnam. Vietnam produces around 29,175 60kg bags of Robusta as green coffee beans each year. Following Vietnam for Robusta production is Brazil, Indonesia and Uganda.
Our two Robusta coffees are expertly sourced from Uganda, where Robusta coffee has been produced for centuries. Uganda is renowned for being one of the best producers of high-quality coffee, and many of its farmers and brands have earned excellent reputations for their superior cup quality and the flavours they bring to the market.
Another reason Ugandan coffee production is so special is that Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that still produces indigenous coffee (its plants grow wild in areas near the stunning Lake Victoria).
What are the typical characteristics of Robusta coffee beans?
When it comes to the taste of Robusta coffee, beans are typically described as intense with robust, woody flavours. Containing minimal acidity, a cup of Robusta makes for a perfect espresso and is a firm favourite on the Italian espresso scene.
Robusta can be enjoyed on its own (if you've sourced quality beans) and due to its strong flavours, it's also a popular choice for instant coffee mixes or coffee blends, balancing acidity levels and enhancing the softer and more subtle flavours of Arabica beans.
What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?
One of the most common questions we get asked about Robusta beans is ‘How do they differ from Arabica coffee?’
As discussed, the two coffees come from two different plants which require varying growing and weather conditions. Another one of the major differences between these two bean types is that Robusta is cheaper and easier to produce. Therefore a coffee of this type is often sold at lower prices than an Arabica variety. However, the higher prices of Arabica varieties don’t always indicate superior quality, and there are examples of both varieties at a range of prices with an exceptional flavour profile.
Perhaps the most crucial difference to coffee drinkers is the difference in the taste of Arabica vs Robusta beans. While there are exceptions in each category, a coffee of the Arabica variety will most likely have high acidity with sweet, smooth and fruity flavours. In contrast, Robusta coffees produce an intense cup with low acidity and woody notes.
Although ‘strong coffee’ has a variety of interpretations and meanings, Robusta coffees are usually described as stronger than Arabica in relation to flavour profiles and caffeine content. In fact, these beans have around twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, making them the perfect pick for those who love a short, fierce caffeine hit.
Did you know...
Until recently, many people believed that Robusta coffee plants (Coffea canephora) were descendants of Arabica plants (Coffea arabica). However, recent scientific discoveries have uncovered that Robusta is more likely to be the parent rather than the product of Arabica. Scientists believe that Arabica may have been created many centuries ago in Sudan through cross-pollination of Robusta and Coffea eugenioides plants.
The best Robusta coffee beans
Our beans are expertly roasted in small batches and we roast to order, optimising the freshness of your coffee delivery. You can also choose between whole beans or a range of ground coffees to suit your brewing method of choice.
For some inspiration for your next order, check out our two Robusta roasts below, alongside some of our customers' top reviews.
If you like your coffee strong, this single-origin Robusta is sure to become your go-to brew. Made from 100% Robusta beans, you can expect an intense cup with bold flavours and a deep smokiness.
High in caffeine content and acidity, we’ve given this brew a strength level of 9 as it comes with real caffeine and flavour intensity.
You can enjoy this type of bean on its own or as a base for a blend (we recommend a blend with softer notes to match these intense flavours). Although this coffee can be enjoyed using any brewing technique, we recommend espresso-based brewing methods.
What our customers think about their recent orders:
“A really drinkable coffee. It's a strong coffee but with a smooth aftertaste”
Julie B. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The coffee has an earthy taste and is quite strong. As always, service was quick and efficient.”
Dan S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Introducing the perfect morning coffee - the Uganda Medium Roast. Made from 100% Robusta beans, this coffee delivers a strong caffeine hit with rich nutty flavours and hints of caramel. These beans also have a powerful aroma with a woody, earthy finish.
With an acid level of 5 and a strength level of 6, it’s a less punchy option compared to our Uganda Light Continental, making it the ideal strong coffee to start your day. Again, you can enjoy this coffee on its own, or if you’re interested in creating your own blend, this serves as an optimum base to balance flavour and acidity.
We recommend using cafetiere or filter brewing methods to produce the perfect cup of Uganda Medium Roast.
What our customers think about their recent orders:
“Earthy, 'just after rain' fresh air flavour and creaminess on the palate.”
Lionel C. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“A flavoursome coffee that will leave you with an enjoyable drink and gander for more!”
David R. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Is Coffea Canephora a species of coffee plant?
Yes. Robusta is grown from the Coffea canephora (also known as Coffea robusta), whereas Arabica beans are produced by a species called the Coffea arabica.
What is better, Arabica or Robusta coffee?
Unfortunately, we can't answer this question as taste is subjective. If you like your brew with lower acidity and intense, woody flavour notes, the Robusta bean will be the perfect choice for you. Its flavour profile also makes it a great pick for espresso blends. However, if you prefer your brew with higher acidity and soft, sweet, fruity notes, then coffee from an Arabica plant will likely be your winner.
The best way for coffee lovers to discover the answer to 'What's my favourite coffee - Robusta or Arabica?', is to taste as many different roasts of each type as possible. At Coffee Direct, we sell over 100 specialist roasts including 100% Arabica brands, delicious Robusta beans and tried-and-tested coffee blends.
Is Robusta coffee stronger than Arabica?
While the definition of 'strong coffee' varies from person to person, when compared to Arabica coffee beans, Robusta can be deemed as stronger on a couple of fronts. Firstly, one of the big differences in terms of strength is that Robusta beans contain almost double the caffeine content of Arabica beans. Robusta beans have an average of 2.7% caffeine content, whereas Arabica beans have 1.5%. In regards to taste, something Robusta brands and products have in common is that they display more intense and robust flavours, which are often favoured by strong coffee drinkers.
Where can I find the best Robusta coffee brands?
We offer some of the best Robusta coffee beans for sale in the UK. Sourced from specialist growers and roasters, you can browse our single-origin beans and range of delicious coffee blends. If you select “Subscribe & Save” when ordering your beans (robusta, arabica or blended), you’ll benefit from a 15% price drop on your order.
Delivery is also free to UK addresses for orders over £30, and you can browse over 100 types of coffee via our website's main menu.
If you have any further questions or would like to let us know about your shopping experience, you can get in touch with our team.