Robusta coffee, everyone must have heard a lot about this name, according to the name of Vietnam called Voi coffee.
Robusta or also called Robusta belongs to Canephora variety (nomenclature: Coffea canephora var. Robusta), is one of the two main types of coffee grown commercially along with Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica). This is also the coffee variety that brought our country to the position of the second coffee export in the world for many years, and ranked first in Robusta production. This is to say that Robusta coffee is really popular and plays the “default” role in the Vietnamese coffee industry. However, it is important to know that Robusta accounts for less than 30% of the global coffee production structure, the rest belongs to Arabica and its offspring.
Origin and distribution of Robusta coffee plants
Coffea Canephora – Robusta coffee was first discovered in Congo – Belgium (in Africa) in the 1800s. Coffea canephora is also an indigenous tree of tropical forests around Lake Victoria in Uganda. Robusta coffee, introduced into Southeast Asia in the 1900s, after Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR), wiped out all the Arabica varieties in Sri Lanka in 1869 (or 1867 according to Wiki) and simultaneously attacked all plantations in Java – Indonesia in 1876. Currently Robusta accounts for 30% to 40% of total world coffee production, popular in West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Central – South America mainly Brazil ( where it is called Conillon).
Similar to other coffee varieties, Robusta trees grow shrubs, but larger in size, with a height of up to 10m. So Robusta coffee is grown at a lower density than Arabica because of the large canopy size. The growth height of Robusta coffee is only in the range of 0 – 800m, so it is relatively easy to cultivate. But it requires a considerable amount of rain 2200 – 3000mm, so Robusta coffee is very drought tolerant.
Robusta coffee (Voi coffee) in Kontum – Vietnam
Robusta coffee has some advantages compared to Arabica coffee such as resistance to rust (CLR), stem borer, nematode diseases, … and gives higher yield than Arabica coffee. For these reasons, Robusta planting costs are relatively low compared to Arabica varieties. On the other hand, there is no ability to withstand long-term drought conditions, poor cold tolerance (optimum temperature in the range (18 – 36oC), for late harvesting, unstable yields compared to Arabica, this is a Negative attribute number of Robusta coffee.
Robusta coffee flavor characteristics
The taste of Robusta coffee has always been evaluated as less competitive than Arabica so far, a richer, more bitter and bitter taste, especially acidity – Acidity is higher than Arabica. Since Arabica coffee is thought to have a smoother taste with higher acidity and a richer flavor, they are often considered superior. In addition, Robusta coffee growing and processing areas are mostly concentrated in dry processing (instead of wet processing like Arabica varieties), leading to a more bitter flavor, a smell of soil, and a roaring smell.
In nature, Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) and Caffeine play a role in helping coffee fight insects, because Robusta plants have stronger insect immunity than Arabica.
HOWEVER, COFFEE ROBUSTA HAS TWICE THE AVERAGE AMOUNT OF CAFFEINE COMPARED TO ARABICA (2% -2.5% COMPARED WITH 1.1% -1.5%) IN RETURN FOR THE TASTE. SO THE COMBINATION OF ROBUSTICA AND ARABICA COFFEE GIVES A HIGHER QUALITY OF TOTAL THAN ARABICA COFFEE, BECAUSE OF THIS, ITALIAN COFFEE (ESPRESSO) ALWAYS HAS 10-15% ROBUSTA COFFEE TO ENHANCE FLAVOR AND CREATE A MORE ATTRACTIVE CREMA LAYER.
AND FROM PRODUCTION PRACTICES, ROBUSTA COFFEE, WHEN WET-PROCESSED, CAN BE OF HIGHER QUALITY THAN CONVENTIONAL ARABICA VARIETIES (BECAUSE ARABICA HAS MANY VARIETIES AND NOT ALL ARE GOOD). SO COMPARING ROBUSTA AND ARABICA IS SOMETIMES NOT ENTIRELY ACCURATE.