Sunday, 4 May 2014

Robusta FTW!

You may have heard some rubbish like the only good coffee is 100% arabica, or arabica is exclusive and robusta is low-class and found in cheap coffee at grocery shops. Hogwash.

For starters, you can find arabica — and what else than 100% arabica — everywhere around you and for really cheap prices like ... errr... how much is it per grain? Ooops, wrong industry.

Actually, I'd be hard-pressed to find a blend consisting mostly of robusta beans at the groceries where I live. For 40% or especially 60% I'd need to go to a serious importer or at least look at the higher shelf!

The higher shelf would contain a lot of Lavazza, for example (which tends to be pricier outside its native country, just like a translator or interpreter), the type and grade of coffee you'd (hope to) find in posh places.

And if you've ever wondered why your 100% arabica coffee doesn't have the oomph ('finish' and 'intensity') you so adore in cafeterias, it may be because it's 100% arabica.

... And if I wanted 100% robusta, other than the Monte Santos instant from Lidl, I'd need to get it from abroad. Or at least order by mail. Or something.

So this much for arabica being exclusive (LOL srsly?).

Look at this pretty thing:

Coffea canephora 1 at Aanakkulam; © 2010 Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India; Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

Like machine translation, robusta produces a higher yield faster and is cheaper to produce (and more disease resistant).

Unlike machine translation, it contains more caffeine than its standard cousin.

(Arabica is a 56% match in this context according to Wikipedia's numbers, at 1.5% vs 2.7% and a more complicated problem according to ICO, at 0.8-1.4% vs 1.7-4.0%, which is too much maths for me to do on a Sunday but results in a theoretical span of 20-82%.)

If you don't like your coffee sour — and I usually can't stand it so — that's arabica to you, too. Coffee is either sour or bitter, and robusta is bitter. There is probably no coffee that's neither sour nor bitter, or I can't afford it and have never tasted it. (And chances are if it's neither sour nor bitter it has no taste at all.)

Unlike the funky fruity flavours of arabica (why snobs call them 'well-rounded' is beyond me), the grainy and woody robusta with its lovely smell resemblant of burnt tyres (which invokes pleasant associations with car racing and rallies and gymkhana) actually is respectable with sugar and milk, although, to quote my friend, a Presbyterian pastor and computer geek and one-time salesman of Armani suits:

once you go black you never look back.

On the other hand, if you're in for refined sensations, you can combine robusta with some aromas from the outside, for example Indian robusta with cherries is bliss. It's like harsh life with its occasional streaks of ephemeral tenderness.

Speaking of which, although it does grow in LatAm (Brazil packing a heavy punch as always with coffee), robusta generally comes from India, Indonesia, or a couple of African countries (I really liked some stuff which was simply named Uganda, presumably after its country of origin), or... Vietnam, which has become a leading producer, responsible for most robusta in the world.

Actually, my favourite coffee ever was from Vietnam. It was only sold ground (!!!), in tiny packages of 100 grams, and had funny circles of fat on its surface after brewing, like broth. Oh bliss! But I'm not sure what type of bean of that was. Might have been arabica for all I know.

In short, robusta coffee will give you the robust strength you need to convert coffee into target texts.

Especially if you're the type of translaminator your clients need, a.k.a. thirty pages due yesterday at top quality and volume discount for a client either new (to gain) or old (to keep), you will need robusta, and you may consider going for the cheaper robusta to optimise the costs (don't forget to pass the saving on to your client), and mix it with some stuff that definitely grows in LatAm. (To order some of the latter write to

To all the fans and especially advertisers of 100% arabica a heartfelt LOL as I raise a cup of robusta (second this 'morning' at 3 p.m.) to your health. Salud!

A particularly wide grin to a certain Australian company which believes that Robusta is a very strong bean, too strong to drink straight. Cheers! This one's to ya!

Poterium vacuum. Original work.

Well, it was!

Unripe berries of the species Coffea canephora. Public domain. Author: Ksd5 @ Wiki.


  1. If you're interested, you may enjoy reading this interview (ARE SINGLE-ORIGIN ROBUSTAS IN SPECIALTY COFFEE’S FUTURE?):

  2. I'm not a coffee drinker myself, but if we ever get to meet I'll bring you some Bourbon Pointu, one of the world's oldest, most exclusive and expensive coffees, and only grown on the island where I live (Reunion) :-) ! See and/or


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