What does Robusta mean?
Robusta is the second most important coffee tree in the world after Arabica. This word comes from “Robust” in English, which means strong. They are small tree growing up to 10 meters in height, but with a shallow root system. Its fruits are rounded and taken up to 11 months to ripe while the beans are oval and smaller than Arabica coffee beans.
Robusta and best conditions to grow.
Coffee Robusta prefers the natural environment of tropical areas with the ideal temperature of between 24°C and 29°C. The appropriate height for growing trees is less than 1,000 meters above the sea level. The appropriate rainfall is over 100mm. Robusta coffee need more sunlight than Arabica.
Robusta vs. Arabica.
This coffee is famous for strong flavor but its flavor is less charming than Arabica. The caffeine content is about 2.4% to 4.4%, which is much higher than Arabica and other coffee varieties. Roasted beans produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a distinctive earthy flavor, but usually with more bitterness than Arabica due to its pyrazine content. As Arabica coffee beans have smoother taste with less acidity and a greater flavor, they are often considered superior, while the harsher these coffee beans are mostly used as filler in lower-grade coffee blends.
Vietnam – a case study of growing Robusta.
Vietnam is proudly the second largest coffee exporter in the world. However, the country is only the number one in producing and exporting Robusta’s coffee. More than 90% of total area for growing coffee in the whole country is for this kind of coffee variety. The total annual productivity is about 1 million tons of which this coffee type accounts for 97%. In 2004, Vietnam exported 14 million bags of Robusta, accounting for nearly half of the world’s total (30 million bags).
However, international coffee drinkers never highly appreciate this coffee. Global coffee drinkers judge it as a “commoner” in coffee culture. Since it is too strong but not smell as aromatic as Arabica, its price is always lower than Arabica (most probably just half of Arabica’s price). In Vietnam, coffee of robusta with poor cultivation technique, processing and storage results an even lower quality and that is why it is not favored by global markets. This coffee in domestic market is even worse when Vietnamese local roasters add synthetic flavorings to make their coffee more aromatic. As a result, those artificial flavorings make coffee quality terrible.
Robusta – the symbol of a strong man.
Despite of some not-so-good features, this coffee is still an important variety, which provides a strong flavor for any coffee blend. Some people consider it as the symbol of man because it is strong and bold in taste. It is the best secret to keep you always awake and fresh. This robust coffee is used as a stimulant, diuretic, antioxidant, antipyretic and relieves spasmodic asthma.
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To sum up, Robusta has been fulfilled the world of coffee. It is strong, robust, easy to grow, anti-disease and cheap. Robusta has already opened a gate to help world-across coffee drinkers enjoy coffees at an affordable price. Vietnam as a special case study of Robusta contributes its best to offer low-cost coffee beans, which are mainly used for soluble coffee production and blending with Arabica. Nonetheless, thanks to its strong, robust and bold taste, it is even a symbol of a strong man.