We might as well start with some fundamentals. With apologies to any knowledgable coffee connoisseurs reading we thought it would be fair to level the playing field a little. So we’re going covering a few of the things every coffee lover should know.
Like the million dollar question: Why Arabica?
It’s always “arabica” isn’t it? If there’s one thing growers, buyers, roaster and sellers agree on it’s that the arabica bean is the best. While the robusta, well, without wanting to be rude about it, is not so good.
It starts with roots
Like any fruit, quality and flavour originate from the ground; that’s as true for the coffee plant as any. Coffee was first cultivated in Western Asia and Africa; specifically Yemen, Ethiopia and southeastern Sudan. Over a thousand years ago it was the Arabians (hence “arabica”) who first thought to make a brew from roasted beans.
Nowadays the best coffee’s in the world come from Central America, from Costa Rica and Guatemala. What these regions have in common with their ancient counterparts is an equatorial location. With their subtropical, mountainous conditions, the coffee plant can flourish with a steady warm but not too fierce temperature. Not too hot, not too humid; plenty of rain and cool nights – that what Coffee Arabica loves. In return only the arabica delivers the most fragrant and intensely flavoured bean.
What about the robusta then?
Why would anyone bother growing an inferior bean?
Growing arabica isn’t without its challenges. It’s a delicate plant to start; in 1975 a severe frost in Brazil had a devastating effect on crops and sent coffee prices through the roof. The Coffee Arabica doesn’t like extreme cold. Add to that labour costs that are as high as the conditions are precarious and mountainous and you can start to imagine why some might look for an easier way to make a living.
Robusta, on the other hand, is a hardier plant that grows well at sea level . So yields are much higher and because it’s grown in more convenient locations labour and transport costs are lower. Obviously that all means it’s cheaper.
But we all know, you get what you pay for and the trade–off is flavour; the more convenient bean lacks any of the delicacy of the more celebrated bean. When it comes to quality andy flavour, it’s arabica every time.