On every single one of our packaged coffees we proudly display three words: 100% Arabica Coffee. It’s a required ingredient listing, of course, but we like to put it front and center in large, noticeable type because of what it says about the quality and flavor of our coffee beans.
Arabica is one of two very popular species of coffee—the other one you’ll commonly find is Robusta (there are around 25 other species in the genus Coffea but you’re unlikely to run into those.) Arabica is generally considered the more desirable bean; both have their advantages, but when it comes to nuanced flavor and a truly gourmet taste Arabica wins every time.
So why the taste (and cost) discrepancy? There are several differences between these two species:
- Around 75-80% of coffee grown in the world is Arabica. Robusta is primarily grown in Africa and Southeast Asia while our Arabica beans come from the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Oceania and the Caribbean Islands.
- Arabica coffee is harder to cultivate. The plant must be grown at higher elevations than Robusta in rich soil with steady rainfall; it yields fewer beans and is more susceptible to disease, and once harvested is more finicky about handling and temperature.
- Arabica coffee has less caffeine than Robusta (and before anyone panics, keep in mind that the extra caffeine in Robusta also gives it an extra bitter taste.)
- Arabica coffee has a higher lipid and sugar content than Robusta; it has a softer, pleasanter taste with sweet notes of berries and fruit, and a higher acidity for that “wine” taste that you’ll notice in some varietal (single-origin) coffees. Even the unroasted beans have a sweet, blueberry-ish smell (Robusta reportedly smells like peanuts before roasting, and burnt rubber after.)
- Most supermarket coffees (especially the cheaper ones and the instant coffees) are Robusta; higher-end Robusta beans do exist, but they’re hard to find. And unlike Arabica, Robusta beans are typically used as a cheap filler.
While we’re personally very picky about the grade of our coffee beans, the truth is there are low-grade coffees out there that still fall under the 100% Arabica designation. And even a top-quality bean can be ruined by a bad roast (which is why we take so much pride in our roastmaster’s 25+ years of experience!)
So, how do you know if you’re actually getting the gourmet experience? In the end the surest sign of quality is in the taste: good coffee tastes good, whether hot or cold (heat can disguise flavor, so let your coffee sit out a bit to really put it to the test.) We invite you to try a pound or two of our Arabica coffee beans today and see for yourself!