Whether you’re a regular coffee drinker or someone who runs their own coffee shop, chances are that you’ve at least heard of the two main types of coffee beans: arabica and robusta.
But how much thought have you put into learning about the differences between the two, and what this means for the cup of coffee you enjoy each day? We’re going to take a look at the differences in these beans, as well as other factors that can influence the flavour.
Let’s begin with the basics. Arabica beans are higher quality than robusta beans and will often be referred to as “gourmet coffee”, according to the Coffee Choice Guide. They typically contain half the amount of caffeine as the robusta variety.
In terms of their flavour, they tend to be more fragrant and have more aromatic flavours. Robusta coffee beans deliver a stronger-tasting cup of coffee. The reason that robusta coffee beans are so popular is because they are easier to grow and more disease resistant than arabica plants.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are many varieties of arabica coffee beans available – they are generally named after the region in which they’re produced, or sometimes the country.
Sourcing private label coffee will therefore start by deciding which type of beans you’d prefer, or whether you’re looking for a blend of the two. Working with a knowledgeable team of coffee experts will help you find the right supplier and kind of coffee beans for your business.
With research from the Quadram Institute last month revealing that ten per cent of coffee products marketed as 100 per cent arabica actually included a significant amount of robusta coffee, it pays to find a supplier you trust and work with the best in the business to get the right coffee blend for your cafe, restaurant or shop.
In some cases, of course, you may want to have a blend of arabica and robusta coffee beans. There’s nothing wrong with this at all – especially if you understand how the flavours of the two different types of beans can be combined.
Although the beans themselves play a part in the flavour of our cups of coffee, it’s actually the roasting process that gives the hot drink its distinctive aroma and flavour.
But here too there can be variations. America’s National Coffee Association (NCA) breaks down the different levels of roasts available, but in general coffee is categorised as light, medium or dark roast.
As you may expect, light roasts spend less time being roasted than dark roasts. Light roasts are good for milder coffee varieties – such as arabica – while dark roasts are typically preferred for robusta.
Interestingly, medium roasts are preferred in the US, while in European nations like France and Italy it’s the dark roasts that you’ll most often be served.
Dark roasts have what the NCA describes as a “pronounced bitterness”, as well as less acidity than lighter roasts. The medium roasts fall somewhere in between light and dark. With so many variations that can affect the flavour of the finished product, it’s important to work with experienced coffee roasters in the UK to get this stage of the process right.