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Bristol coffee beans: Arabica or Robusta?

There are two main types of coffee beans used in the UK: Arabica and Robusta. The latest Bristol coffee roaster we worked with, Bristol Twenty, created their Costa Rican ‘Tarrazu’ using Arabica coffee beans, but what does that actually mean? Read on to learn more!

Arabica beans account for around 75% of the world’s coffee production. The main reason for their popularity is simple: taste. Arabica beans are sweeter than Robusta and produce a more acidic, flavoursome and aromatic cup. They’re grown at higher altitudes and have more specific cultivation requirements, meaning they’re also more expensive! The Bristol coffee beans we include in our subscriptions will generally be Arabica. Main producers: Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia

Robusta coffee beans make up about 25% of the world’s coffee production. While these beans are less acidic and carry fewer flavours than Arabica – they generally taste more 'earthy' – they do have one key benefit: caffeine content! Robusta beans can contain between 25-50% more caffeine, making them a solid choice if you’re really struggling to wake up on a Monday morning. They can grow at lower altitudes, have fewer cultivation requirements and are quite hardy, meaning they’re also quite a bit cheaper than Arabica. Main producers: Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia

How do I identify whether my Bristol coffee beans are arabica or Robusta? The easy way: look at the packaging. Your Bristol coffee roaster will likely state the type of beans they've used. And if they don't say? It's more difficult! They're both small, brown and smell like coffee... but there are some subtle differences. For instance, arabica beans are generally slightly larger, oval shaped and have a pronounced centre crease. Robusta beans are usually slightly smaller, more circular and have a less pronounced centre crease.

So there you have it: a quick explanation of the differences between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans! See if you can use the information above to correctly identify what our Bristol coffee roasters have been working with (or just read the packaging!)

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