What is robusta coffee?

Robusta, obviously, has already changed the way of enjoying coffee of the world. Robusta together with arabica are two main coffee varieties planted across the globe nowadays. Unlike arabica with a longer history and with a wider distribution, robusta was founded later and has been widely planted in recent decades.

Robusta green coffee beans.

An sample image of green robusta with some defect beans.

Robusta is very strong in taste, more bitter, robust and higher in caffeine content as compared to arabica. The prices of robusta are usually a half of arabica’s thanks to the fact that it is easier to cultivate and harvest than arabica. Robusta, in reality, is regularly blended with arabica to get a lower price and/ or used as main ingredients to make cheap instant coffees. However, a noticeably global trend nowdays in emerging markets is that many 100% robusta – blended coffee products for roasted coffee wholebeans and ground coffee powder have been increased.

What is the name of robusta?

Robusta might be originated from the term robust which mean strong. Thus, robusta is a coffee kind of strong taste and rich in caffeine. In deed, robusta has newly found and soon become popular across coffee-growing world thanks to the fact that it is easier to take care and strong abilities against disease. Robusta is lower in acidity as compared to arabica; but, it is more bitter and less aromatic. In addition to that, high caffeine content of robusta shows its featured bold and robust taste.

Coffee robusta in Vietnam?

Robusta coffee is mainly cultivated in Central Highlands, Vietnam. The main region focuses on five provinces of Central Highlands including Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Daklak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong. Several mid-land provinces such as Dong Nai and Ba Ria – Vung Tau also produce robusta. As you’ve already known, robusta is easier to cultivate than arabica. It requires a lower altitude of around 500m above sea level (asl.). Robusta is more probable to expose to direct sunlight with suitable featured temperature of highlands varying from 24oC to 29oC and yearly average rainfall of 1,000mm.

Vietnam has famous robusta growing regions such as Pleiku, Ayun Pa, Buon Ho, Buon Ma Thuot, Dakmil or Cu Kuin. The one which are most famous among them is Buon Ma Thuot known as Vietnam’s capital of coffee. In addition to that, Buon Ma Thuot’s robusta has been promoted as single estate coffee (as Buon Ma Thuot’s specialty). Moreover, in low lands such as Long Khanh (of Dong Nai) do contribute good robusta. Especially, several rural districts of Ba Ria Vung Tau which are next to seasides have been planted robusta coffee with good capacity.

Robusta coffee hills in Xuyen Moc, Vung Tau

Ben Loi (Loi’s port) in Xuyen Moc of Ba Ria Vung Tau with its small mountains and hills behind – suitable to plant coffees – is very close to the seaside. Photo by HangVTA.

In general, in comparision with arabica, Vietnamese robusta volume is a very huge number. Volume of Vietnamese robusta in recorded harvest seasons can be reached 1.5 to 1.7 million metric tons which are 25 times higher as compared to arabica (of 60 thousand tons). It is robusta that brings Vietnam to seize the world’s number #1 of robusta export.

How to classify Robusta coffee?

Like the way we do with arabica, robusta is sorted or screened by sieves. Screen #16 and screen #18 are two main popular sieves. Screen #16 has a diameter of 6.30mm and screen #18 is 7.10mm. Beside sieves, other specifications which should be counted in are moisture, foreign matter, black and broken and on-sieve percentage. Robusta across Vietnam, in general, has similar quality and shares common characteristics due to the same cultivation technique. There is one special thing is that screen #14 in Vietnam is also named Lavazza’s screen – one of main coffee buyers of Vietnam. Or Vietnam also exports a large amount of screen #13 grade 3 of 25% BB (black&broken) to many instant coffee factories across the globe.

As a wholesale green coffee supplier, GREENRAWCOFFEE also has inquiries for robusta G3 from several instant coffee makers in India and other countries.

How is robusta consumed in Vietnam?

Let’s say, robusta is widely consumed in Vietnam. Vietnamese coffee drinkers across the country love it. Perhaps, robusta is cheaper than arabica or the supply of robusta is much more tremendous. But the main reason why robusta is loved here is Vietnamese catering habits. They choose robusta just because it simply meets their drinking hobbies. Vietnamese catering is dominated with the consumption of fish sauces and other kinds of sauces. And robusta which has bold taste, bitter and robust, low acidity with high caffeine content to stay awake has quickly won drinker’s hearts when it first arrived. The roasting degree is also different. Robusta must be roasted into dark or super-dark and in many cases butter will be put in during the process to create delicious and fatty tastes for brewed coffee.

Robusta dark roasted.

Robusta green coffee, in Vietnam, is often roasted into dark or super-dark to contribute a very bold taste of a cup of ‘ca phe sua da’.

Robusta and cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk).

Unlike Western countries, Vietnamese people drink coffee very … slowly. Coffee will be brewed by a phin filter slowly and slowly and the drinker is willing to wait for it while talking with his or her friends or just sitting alone. After 5 minutes to 10 minutes of waiting, brewed coffee will be well mixed with condensed milk and served cool with ice because Vietnam is a tropical country with hot temperature. A standard cup of iced coffee with condensed milk should be (1) brewed robusta with butter roast (2) extracted from phin filter, (3) mixed with condensed milk, (4) cooled down and added ice. Therefore, coffee in Vietnam in many cases seems a way of enjoyment, experiencing and thinking, not only a kind of soft drink to drink fast for loading some caffeine into your body. Drinking coffee in Vietnam can be considered as a kind of cultural practice in which some memmories would have been created, rethought and minded in a coffee shop of different decoration.

To sum up, robusta is easier to grow up as compared to arabica. It is keen to sunshine, has better strength against disease and the taste is very robust, strong with high caffeine content. In Vietnam, robusta is the main growing coffee which is 25 times higher than arabica. Robusta is mainly planted in five provinces of Central Highlands with the similar and stable quality. Vietnamese coffee drinkers love robusta because it shares many similarities to Vietnamese catering gourmet including bold and robust taste. To have an authentic cup of Vietnamese’s cà phê sữa đá, one should brew dark or super dark roast robusta with butter.