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Premium Robusta Coffees (for espresso blends)

Robusta coffee is the trade name for Coffea canephora, a different species of coffee from the genus Coffea and cousin to the higher-grown Coffea arabica L. that is the basis for specialty coffee. You may be interested to know that the bulk of cheap coffee in the world is actually arabica, not Robusta. Arabica accounts for 75% of the worlds coffee production with the top 5% qualifying as Specialty Coffee (the coffee Sweet Maria's and other fine coffee roasters stock).


Arabica vs. Robusta in espresso

robusta in india

Robusta with flowering, Jeelan Estate, 2008

Robusta accounts for 25% of the coffee production. There is a LOT of very low grade Robusta out there, used to pump up caffeine content and as a cheap filler in institutional coffee. We offer some high grade robusta but I must confess this to you: I have difficulty telling the difference between 12% of a high quality Java or PNG washed robusta in an espresso blend, and a more expensive name-brand Indian one. I just think you reach a quality threshold and anything above it is "good enough". Robusta will never be arabica, in this respect.

Robusta is normally not for use in filter-drip coffee blends. Common robusta has hard, rubbery flavors. You might be surprised with some of our premium robusta coffees. Roasted to Full City+ or light Vienna you can indeed brew a French Press and get a very interesting, agressive, pungent cup. If you like dry-process Sumatras, you might find this quite palatable (and people who use a dab of cream might like it too).

There is a core use for Robusta coffees that are picked, sorted, processed and prepared with as much care as top grade Arabicas; this valid use is in the 5 to 20% range in espresso blends. Robustas add body, crema, and a distinct flavor to espresso. If you are familiar with traditional Italian espresso you will recognize this taste. It also aids the espresso in distinguishing itself in milk drinks. We don't rate Robustas on the cupping scale since traditional cupping doesn't apply on a coffee solely intended as a blend component in espresso.

See our Blending Article for specific comments about Robusta in Espresso Blends. (Also, Robustas such as these are now being used in filter coffee "high caffeine" blend since the caffeine levels are doubled in Robusta over Arabica. But this really isn't something I am going to endorse, or even investigate myself even though such brands as ShockCoffee are doing exactly this...) Also check out Nestle's description of Robusta -interesting!

Now, Sweet Maria's has never intended to be "Robusta Central," but we do believe that each cultivar of coffee needs to be judged on its own merit. The Robusta coffees we offer have attained the highest level possible given they species ... Robusta will never be Coffea Arabica ... a Robusta will never be a Gesha!

Our Unroasted Robusta Coffee Offerings: Please refer to our Reference Page for definitions of terms and cupping numbers used below. Check out the Sweet Maria's Coffee Home Roasting Forum for more conversation about home roasting robusta and other coffees.

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This page is authored by T. Owen and Sweet Maria's Coffee, Inc. and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission