Ever wondered what the words arabica, robusta, or chicory mean while doing your groceries? Does the confusion lead you to a jar of instant coffee? It all ends here. Coffee beans come in 4 main variants - differing in where the plant originates and how it is cultivated. Namely, the variants are Arabica, Robusta - the two most popular coffee bean variants and Liberica and Excelsa with extremely limited production in specific regions.
The two most commonly found variants are Arabica and Robusta along with Chicory coffee that is derived from the chicory plant.
Arabica Coffee Beans
Originating in Ethiopia, Arabica coffee beans are believed to be the first coffee species to be cultivated and makes for 60% of the world’s coffee production now. While it is now rarely cultivated in Ethiopia, it is naturalised in places in Africa, Latin America, and islands in the Caribbean and in the Pacific. Arabica coffee has a sweet, delicate flavour high in acidity because of its fruity undertones making it the world’s highest quality coffee blend.
Robusta coffee beans
Grown in Western and Central Africa, Robusta coffee beans account for most of the remaining coffee production. This plant is more resistant to the weather and pests and hence is easier and cheaper to cultivate resulting in higher quantity, making it more affordable than the Arabica variant. Robusta has a stronger, harsher flavour and almost double the caffeine content and ranks second to Arabica beans.
Many coffee brands across the world make a coffee blend that mixes the two beans as that results in a healthier caffeine content with balanced flavours that are strong, sweet, slightly acidic and bitter.
Another coffee variant is the Chicory coffee, made from the roots of the Chicory plant which gives the same taste as coffee beans. The root is roasted, ground, and then brewed with coffee. Native to France, the use of Chicory coffee grew in times of coffee shortage during the Continental Blockade put in place by Napoleon. The major drawback of chicory is that it does not have any caffeine - however, that makes it an appropriate substitute for non-caffeinated coffee versions. Chicory mixed Arabica or Robusta blends make for popular drinks across the world as it maintains the flavour profile, dilutes the caffeine, and also makes it more economical than single estate coffee beans.
So, which one is for you?
It all depends on when and why you are drinking coffee. If you wish to have coffee in the morning for a little pick-me-up, a blend of arabica and robusta would be best as it will get caffeine in your system with some sweet acidic flavours. If you are someone who likes their coffee to be a bit creamy, a single-estate Robusta is your best bet, where as, for someone who likes their coffee to have a slight kick but not bitter - single-estate Arabica is the way to go! If you wish to have it later in the day but are hesitant because that might disturb your sleep cycle you can go for chicory coffee, or a blend of Arabica and Chicory.
Chicory brings in a woody and nutty flavour to the Arabica and Robusta flavour profiles and also adds a lot of body to the drink, making it thicker. With Robusta, Chicory counteracts the bitterness and balances it with its own sweet and woody flavours. With Arabica beans, Chicory boosts its flavour profile to elevate its delicate sweetness with the woody and nutty flavours. South Indian filter coffees are a great example of a blend of Arabica beans and Chicory. In fact, this blend caters to a mass Indian population with its less bitter, thicker and woody flavours. The flavoured paste coffees at Hetal’s Homemade also use high quality Arabica and Chicory in all the 13 different flavours. The enhanced blend results in coffee that is full bodied, not too bitter, and a balanced amount of caffeine that is healthy to consume even if you overdose on our coffees!