Robusta originated in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. It is the second most popular coffee in the world, making up 40% of the worlds coffee production. It comes second only to arabica (from the Coffea arabica plant) which makes up the remaining 60% (or more) of coffee production worldwide.
The plant is a resilient little plant. It can withstand hot temperatures (30°C and over) and full sun. It likes to stay hydrated and requires a lot of water to be happy & healthy. It grows at low altitudes – sea level to 600 meters, and is resistant to insects and disease.
In the wild it grows to around ten meters tall, but when grown for commercial use is pruned to a height which makes harvesting easier, around five meters.
The fruit of the robusta coffee plant turns deep red as it ripens, and takes around 6 to 8 months to do so. The fruit does not all ripen at the same time, much like blueberries – there can be ripe and unripe fruit on the same branch.
Where does robusta coffee come from?
Robusta coffee is largely grown in the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly in Africa and Indonesia. The largest producer is Vietnam.
Robusta coffee was first discovered in Congo in the 1800s. It was introduced into Southeast Asia in the 1900s, after Coffee Leaf Rust wiped out all of the Arabica varieties in Sri Lanka in 1869 (or 1867 according to Wiki), and attacked most of the plantations in Java – Indonesia in 1876.
What does robusta coffee taste like?
Robusta coffee tastes earthy and is often said to have a bitter, rubbery/grain-like flavor, with a peanutty aftertaste. Its beans contain more caffeine and less sugar than arabica beans, and therefore taste stronger and harsher than arabica.