Probably the most obvious difference between Arabica and Robusta coffees are the taste. Arabica and Robusta coffees are grown very differently which results in radically different taste profiles (more on this later). Robusta is typically described as a "earthy" or "rubbery" taste. Arabica on the other hand has a wide range of flavor profiles.
2. Growing Conditions:
A big difference between Arabica and Robusta Coffees are the conditions in which they are grown. Arabica coffee is grown anywhere upwards of 600+m on mountain tops and tropical environments. Whereas Robusta coffee is grown anywhere from sea level to around 600m. Robusta coffees also produce a harder fruit and thus are not as susceptible to pesky insects. Arabica on the other hand is more fragile and can be damaged by bugs.
3. Caffeine Content:
What do you think contains more caffeine? Arabica or Robusta? Surprisingly most people would say Arabica but, Robusta coffee actually has a higher caffeine content. Robusta is used quite frequently in instant coffee and as a blend additive to help give a specific coffee mix an extra "jolt." In fact, Robusta has about 2.7% caffeine content while Arabica holds 1.5%
4. Physical Bean Traits:
Robusta beans are typically more circular in shape and darker in color. Whereas Arabica beans are typically lighter brown and more oval shaped than circular.
5. Sugar Content:
Arabica coffee contains
Which would explain the bitter taste in Robusta and why we tend to like Arabica coffee better typically.
Roughly 75% of the world's coffee production is Arabic and 25% Robusta. Brasil is the largest producer of Arabica in the world and Vietnam is the largest producer of Robusta.
One thing to remember is taste preferences and profiles will vary from person to person. There are plenty of people who enjoy a good Robusta filled blend while others prefer only 100% Arabica.