Coffee is thought to have many species; however, there are only one hundred and twenty-five, known species. Despite the great number only two of them have impacted the economic wellbeing of the universe namely Arabica and Robusta. Arabica and Robusta coffee belong to the family Rubiaceae scientifically known as Coffea robusta which has two varieties known as nganda and robusta. Robusta has shallow root and grows to a height of about 10 meters while Arabica too grows to a height of 9-10 meters. Robusta takes about 10 to 11months for its cherries to ripen which are oval shaped. Both the coffee species’ origin can be traced to Ethiopia Asia and Australia. The demand for the two species of coffee varies according to taste while their production also depends on resistance and attention. They are naturally grown in Tropical Cancer and Capricorn mainly in Central and Western Africa (Health Food Post, 2017). Both Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta have got distinctive features that make them unique from other Coffea canephora plants. The Robusta and Arabica are grown under different temperature and altitude and in addition possess different chemical and physical property.
The Robusta and Arabica grow under different environmental conditions. In terms of altitude, the Arabica bean does well in between 3000ft to 6,600ft while the Robusta beans perform best at 0 to 3000ft above the sea level. As for temperature, the Arabica is grown at a temperature of between 15 – 25°C as opposed to the counterpart that prefers a temperature of between 20 – 30°C. Soil quality differs too; for Arabica it performs under the volcanic sloping soil that has too many nutrients while Robusta grows under flatter terrain with low nutrients. Rainfall characteristic also matters for the two species with Arabica preferring 8-15ft as opposed to Robusta that requires 15-20ft. The flowering period of Arabica is normally after the rainy season while that of Robusta is irregular. The growing time for Arabica that is from flower to cherry is nine months while that of Robusta is ten to eleven months. The plant’s robustness and diseases susceptibility present yet a distinguishing factor. Arabica is susceptible to diseases and insects while the Robusta is less prone to diseases and insect. Comparing yields, the Arabica has a low yield as compared to Robusta that offers greater yield (The Coffee Barrister, 2015).
Production and Mechanization
Coffee Arabica is known for labor intensive production. They are exposed to pests and diseases hence the need for labor intensive to facilitate the harvesting. They are handpicked thus do not require the use of machines. The terrains do not favor the use of mechanization too. The Robusta, however, requires the use of machine since they are grown in flat regions. It requires less work due to its resistance from diseases and pest. The fact that the Robusta are grown in plantation allows them to be harvested mechanically (Del Terra et.al, 2013).
The Robusta and Arabica also differ in acidic content. More of chlorogenic content is found in Robusta as compared to Arabica. Robusta possesses a concentration of between 7.0-10.0 percent while the Arabica has chlorogenic of 5.5 to 8.0 percent. The chlorogenic content in Robusta explains the harsher and bitter taste from the roasted species. The difference in concentration is thought to be related to climatic and environmental conditions. Therefore, the harsher climate provides Robusta with the chlorogenic acid as compared to Arabica beans that are grown in fairer climatic and environmental conditions (Schmeltzer, 2005).
The Robusta possesses a varying level of taste depending on the state. Before the bean is roasted it possesses peanut or oat’s smell with nut fragrance. The roasted bean, however, offers rubber-burnt like taste. Arabica beans, on the other hand, possess sweet, soft, sharp and tangy taste. When raw the Arabica beans possess blueberries’ smell while when roasted the bean smells “perfumey” with elements of sugar and fruity notes. Therefore, Arabica beans are more flavorful as compared Robusta (Borden, 2014).
In terms of caffeine content, the Robusta contains almost double caffeine as compared to Arabica. Specifically, the Robusta possesses between 1.6- 2.4 percent of caffeine while Arabica possesses 0.9 to 1.2 percent of caffeine component. The two species, however, possess equal protein content of between 11 to 13 percent (Buratti et.al, 2015).
The factor inputs and demand determines the price of both the Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is considerably cheaper to produce because it does not require too much attention because of the presence of caffeine and chlorogenic acid that repels insect and protect it against diseases. The taste is not favorable hence low demand. The lower demand implies low price. Arabica coffee, on the other hand, is expensive to produce and possess sweet taste. These two features offer it higher demand as compared to Robusta thus creating a higher price (Thompson, 1999).
The two beans are produced in different capacities. The Robusta, in particular constitutes about 30 percent of the total coffee production within the globe. Robusta is mostly produced in Vietnam and other parts of the world such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Africa (Landau, 2012). Although Vietnam began the production in late 19th Century, it has emerged as the leading exporter surpassing Indonesia, India, and Brazil though Brazil leads in the production by a third of global productivity. Coffee Arabica, on the other hand, accounts for about 75- 80 percent of the total world coffee production. Brazil produces about 45percent of Arabica coffee thus making it the largest producer and exporter (Del Terra et.al, 2013).
The demand for Arabica is higher because its taste is preferred by many. It also requires close attention evidenced through labor-intensive care. The product has experienced high demand driving up its price to nearly double that of the Robusta. The Robusta, however, has a harsher taste that does not appeal to the consumers this leads to lower demand across the globe. The lower demand lowers the price (Mary, 2015).
Both the two coffee species have indeed dominated the world production with the Robusta accounting for about 30 percent and the Arabica claiming the largest percentage estimated to be about 75-80 percent. The species have demonstrated a varying level of resistance to diseases and pest. Because of high caffeine content and chlorogenic acid, Robusta is less susceptible to diseases and pest. The demand for the Arabica is high because of its sweet taste as opposed to the Robusta rubber taste. The Robusta allows for mechanization while Arabica engages the labor intensive techniques. The price of the Arabica is high because of high demand and factor input while the price of Robusta is low because of low demand and too much supply.
Borden, T. (2004, Jan 18). ORGANIC PRODUCTION HOLDS PROMISE FOR FARMERS THE GRIND OF COMPETITION. Arizona Republic Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/238358690?accountid=2280
Buratti, S., Sinelli, N., Bertone, E., Venturello, A., Casiraghi, E., &Geobaldo, F. (2015). Discrimination between washed arabica, natural arabica and robusta coffees by using near infrared spectroscopy, electronic nose and electronic tongue analysis. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 95(11), 2192. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6933
Del Terra et.al. (2013). Functional characterization of three Coffea arabica L. monoterpene synthases: Insights into the enzymatic machinery of coffee aroma. Phytochemistry , 89, 6-14.
Health Food Post. (2017). Does Arabica or Robusta have more Chlorogenic Acid? Retrieved February 12, 2017, from Health Food Post: http://healthfoodpost.com/green-coffee- extract/arabica-robusta-coffee-beans/
Joe Graedon And, T. G. (1996, Sep 23). HOW DOES DECAF COFFEE BENEFIT THE BREASTS? St.Louis Post – Dispatch (Pre-1997 Fulltext) Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/305214954?accountid=2280
Landau, E. (2012, Aug 24). Scientists suggest health benefits of coffee. Recorder. Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1038827128?accountid=2280
Mary, M. D. (2015, Oct 21). What’s brewing at raging sage cafe. Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1724259730?accountid=2280
Schmeltzer, J. (2005, Mar 14). Coffee hikes by kraft, P&G expected to jolt industry. Knight Ridder Tribune News Service Retrieved from url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/456580514?accountid=2280
The Coffee Barrister. (2015). Understanding the Difference: Arabica vs Robusta. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from The Coffee Barrister: https://www.coffeeb.net/arabica-vs- robusta/
Thompson, B. (1999, Jul 28). Captivating COFFEE. The Post and Courier. Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login