Robusta Coffee – Introduction
Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea canephora plant. As the name suggests, it’s a sturdier, more robust variety of coffee (compared to Arabica), and accounts for about 40% of the world’s total coffee production.
Robusta coffee can grow in low altitudes, as well as diverse climatic conditions. Farmers love to grow it because grows faster, and is more disease- and pest-resistant than Arabica coffee.
Deep, fertile, rich in organic matter, well drained and slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.5)
Gentle slopes to fairly level fields
North, East and North- East aspects
2000 C – 3000 C; hot, humid
February – March (25-40 mm)
March-April (50-75 mm) well distributed
Source: Coffee Board, Government of India
What is Robusta Coffee?
Robusta coffee is a strong, full-bodied coffee with a unique, earthy flavour. It has other distinct attributes – such as higher bitterness and lower acidity. Its flavours are bolder and darker, and exhibit a chocolaty note in the brew that’s greatly valued, especially in espressos.
Although there are several Coffea plant species, Robusta is one of the most commonly grown coffees in the world. Robusta coffee matures more rapidly, results in higher yields, is easier to grow commercially, and contains more caffeine and antioxidants than Arabica coffee.
Did you know that the coffee bean is a seed? It is used to brew coffee after it’s dried, roasted and ground. If you don’t process the seed, you can plant it to grow a coffee tree.
How is Robusta Coffee Grown?
The Robusta plant is shallow rooted, and grows into a shrub that flowers irregularly. It takes 10-11 months for cherries to ripen and produce oval-shaped Robusta seeds (or beans).
Once the cherries (beans) ripen, they are harvested, processed, milled (i.e. hulled, polished, graded and sorted), roasted, ground and finally brewed and consumed.
Important Varieties of Robusta Coffee in India
The two major varieties of Robusta Coffee in India are:
This variety of Robusta coffee is a selection made from the high yielding old Robusta coffee collection that was brought to India from Sri Lanka. It’s the most commonly grown variety among India’s major Robusta coffee growing regions. The sturdy bushes of the S. 274 coffee plant are strong, and can adapt across distinct regions. Its seeds (or beans) are bold, round and greyish coloured (after wet processing).
This variety of Robusta coffee is a hybrid of Robusta coffee and Coffea congenisis. The bushes of this plant variety are more compact, with smaller and narrower leaves compared to conventional Robusta plants. Its seeds (or beans) are bold, with soft and neutral features in the cup compared to conventional Robusta coffee.
Why do People Drink Robusta Coffee?
People drink Robusta coffee for a variety of reasons, such as its strong, bold taste and chocolaty notes that linger on pleasantly in the mouth. Robusta coffee is rich in caffeine, which has a direct effect on your brain. The caffeine replaces adenosine (a chemical compound that makes you drowsy), thereby stimulating your brain and making you more active and alert.
Robusta Coffee Benefits
Robusta Coffee is a natural source of antioxidants. According to a study, the high caffeine content in Robusta coffee is responsible for its high antioxidant activity. These antioxidants are responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects.
High caffeine in coffee is known to provide the following health benefits:
- Lower fatigue and tension headaches
- Prevent and slow down cell damage, reducing chances of cancer
- Protect against health conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's Diseases
- Gallbladder stones
- Boost memory and concentration
- Promote weight loss
Robusta Coffee vs Arabica Coffee
Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea Canephor plant while Arabica comes from the Coffea Arabica plant. Arabica coffee has a pleasant taste, mild flavor and a balanced aroma, while Robusta coffee has a bolder and darker flavor, and is mainly used in instant coffees and espressos.
Robusta coffee has an upper hand when it comes to caffeine content and antioxidant compounds. Arabica coffee has a milder flavour, but is more disease-prone and less resilient to pests compared to Robusta coffee. Robusta coffee, on the other hand, is easier to cultivate and (therefore) cheaper.
Carefully harvested and processed Robusta seeds can produce a better cup than fermented, oxidized, or low-quality Arabica seeds.
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How to Make a Cup of Instant Hot Robusta Coffee
- Heat water and allow it to cool for a minute
- Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of instant coffee (i.e. 5 – 10 gm) per cup
(alter to suit your taste and preference)
- Add sugar and milk (or cream) to taste
- Stir, consume and enjoy
Points to Remember
- Use good quality Robusta coffee beans
- Brewed coffee, when freshly ground, tastes best
- Coffee loses its optimal taste soon after it’s brewed, so make only as much as you will drink
How to Store Robusta Coffee
- In containers that are airtight
- In a dark and cool place
- At room temperature