The True Story of Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffee has long been plagued by a negative reputation. Many coffee enthusiasts dismiss it as a low-quality variety suitable only for instant coffee. However, the story of robusta is far more complex than these misconceptions suggest. In this article, we will delve into the true story of robusta coffee, exploring its history, debunking myths, and uncovering its distinct taste notes. Join us on this journey to discover why robusta coffee deserves recognition in the specialty coffee community.

The Prejudice Against Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffee has often been unfairly dismissed due to its perceived inferior quality. Many people associate it with a burnt rubber-like taste, making it a less popular choice among coffee enthusiasts. However, it’s important to approach robusta with an open mind and explore its true flavors.

Robusta’s Complex Reputation

To understand the true nature of robusta coffee, it’s crucial to consider the range of opinions surrounding it. While some individuals have had negative experiences with robusta, others, particularly those working with coffee, have provided positive feedback. This disparity highlights the need to delve deeper into robusta’s taste profile and give it a fair chance.

Concentration and Flavor in Robusta Coffee

In a previous video discussing espresso beans, we learned about how concentration affects the flavors of coffee. The same principle applies to robusta coffee. By understanding the impact of concentration, we can uncover the unique characteristics and taste notes that make robusta distinct from other coffee varieties.

The History and Origins of Robusta

To comprehend robusta’s place in the coffee world, we must explore its history and origins. Robusta entered the scene long after the popularity of its cousin, arabica. Originally from the highlands of Ethiopia, arabica thrived under specific conditions, making it challenging to grow. Seeking a species that could be cultivated at lower altitudes, coffee enthusiasts turned their attention to robusta.

Robusta’s Rise: Corvia Canephora

During the search for an alternative lowland coffee, a new species was discovered in Central Africa. European botanists named it corvia canephora, which is now commonly referred to as robusta. This species showcased a high yield, disease resistance, and a higher caffeine content than arabica. The focus on robusta centered around its potential for cost-effective coffee production.

Understanding Robusta’s True Nature

Robusta’s misconception stems from its treatment as a cheap alternative to arabica for decades. It has often been disregarded, leading to the assumption that it lacks quality. However, recent years have seen a growing interest in robusta within the specialty coffee community. As more attention is given to proper cultivation, processing, and roasting techniques, the true potential of robusta is being unlocked.

Exploring the Taste Notes of Robusta

In order to truly appreciate robusta coffee, one must explore its taste notes. Unlike arabica, robusta exhibits lower acidity but heightened sweetness. By increasing the dosage during brewing, the flavors intensify, revealing hints of caramel, toffee, and nuts. While subtle notes of bitterness may resemble burnt rubber, they are far more refined, reminiscent of the traditional coffee found in bistros.

Brewing Robusta: Espresso as the Perfect Choice

Considering robusta’s unique attributes, espresso brewing offers the ideal method to bring out its flavors. The lack of acidity and subdued sweetness make robusta an excellent candidate for espresso. A shot of 100% robusta can be an intriguing and rewarding experience for those who appreciate a different flavor profile, with enhanced mouthfeel, hints of hazelnut, chocolate, and even a touch of licorice.


Robusta coffee, often misunderstood and underestimated, is beginning to gain recognition in the specialty coffee community. Its history, taste notes, and brewing techniques all contribute to its growing appeal. As climate change poses challenges to coffee production, robusta’s resilience and adaptability make it an essential contender for the future. By embracing robusta and exploring its nuances, coffee enthusiasts can expand their horizons and appreciate the diversity that the world of coffee has to offer.