Minggu, 18 November 2012

The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Beans

Going to purchase coffee seems like it is becoming an increasingly confusing task each day, what with the huge selection now being offered, with varieties from around the world that all claim to be the very best. You have organic coffee versus non-organic, estate coffee versus blends, and oftentimes a choice between Arabica beans and Robusta beans. The following is a brief breakdown of some of the most important differences between the two species to help guide your purchasing decisions.


Let's begin with the difference you probably care about the most, taste. Arabica beans come in a much wider range of flavors. The mildest varieties are soft and sweet and the most robust are tangy and sharp. Before they are roasted they give off a scent that is oddly berry-like, and roasted they take on a bit stronger of a sugary sweetness. Robusta beans have less variety, and though delicious Robusta coffees are certainly out there, many find the taste to be a bit harsh and less complex.


Robusta coffee is considered a much hardier plant than Arabica, because it can stand up to surprisingly harsh environments, including low altitudes, hungry insects and other pests, as well as rough handling. This makes it quite cheap to grow in large quantities, and thus very available at much lower prices. Arabica coffee is a bit trickier. These plants crave cool and moist (usually subtropical) conditions, and are only found at much higher altitudes. Usually somewhere between 600 and 2000 meters is the right elevation. They require both shade and sun regularly, and though they like the cool, they will wither in the cold. It is because of these conditions that they are often lower in acidity, and therefore less bitter. A perfect example of a region made for growing Arabica is the Jamaican Blue Mountains, where the world famous Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown.


Because Robusta beans are so cheap and easy to grow, if you pick up a can of coffee at the grocery store, you are often getting more robusta than arabica. A higher quality blend from a specialty shop or a gourmet coffee purveyor will most likely contain a high percentage of Arabica. It is not, however, necessarily as simple as Arabica being better. Once of the most defining qualities of this species is its range, so many coffees and coffee blends of this type may be inferior to certain Robusta selections.

Robusta is used in many European espresso blends to both increase the "crema" and lower the cost of the coffee. Used sparingly, it will not hurt the flavor much, but too much Robusta means a less complex espresso.

Unfortunately, this means you still may have some research ahead of you in your quest to choose the right brew for you! As a rule of thumb, though, the best coffees are not blends at all (so nothing you do not know about can be snuck in there), and will be labeled saying exactly where they are from.

Vacationing in Jamaica

Traveling to Jamaica is a truly wonderful experience, largely because of its long, rich, culture-filled history. So many different peoples have contributed to making this island nation what it is today, beginning with the Arawak and Taino indigenous peoples, as far back as 4000 BC. The following are a few pointers on how to make the most of your Jamaican vacation, taking in all the natural beauty and culture that you can.

What to Eat

The national dish of this island nation, called ackee and saltfish, is a must try. Ackee is a local fruit that has a taste like nothing you have had before and here it is paired with a mix of dried codfish, onions, and tomatoes. You really will not be able to find this meal anywhere else, so be sure to give it at least a taste. Another local treat, known as bammy, is a creation of the Arawak Indians. It is most similar to a pancake, yet with more of a cornbread taste and consistency, and makes for a very popular breakfast item. If you have a craving for meat, you should go for the jerk chicken or pork, which will be sold in stands lining the highways. Though it may be a bit drier than you expect, this is done purposefully (Jamaicans tend to like their food a bit more well done than we do), and it is very flavorful. If you are in for a real culinary adventure, skip the fancy tourist restaurants and seek out a specialty place to sample some ital dishes. Ital is food made for practicing Rastafarians, and are prepared without the use of meat, oil, or salt (but are still somehow delicious!).

What to Drink

If you have not yet heard of the sensation that Jamaican coffee is causing all around the world, then you are in for a treat! Jamaican coffee (and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, in particular) is one of the most desirable and difficult to import luxury items there is. When you are there, be sure that you try at least a cup. It is known for its incredibly mild and smooth flavor, thanks to beans cultivated in the cool, misty climate of the Blue Mountains. Chances are that when you return, you won't be able to switch back to your usual brew! You should also be sure to check out the interesting local colas. You can cool down with one of these ice cold treats in exotic flavors like champagne, grapefruit, and pineapple.

What to Do

Definitely make it a priority to take a day trip up to the Blue Mountains (if you are able to tear yourself away from the beach). This is a less well known feature of the island's natural beauty, and not something you want to miss. And, if you have already tried the coffee famous for growing on these peaks, you can enjoy a tour of one of the coffee estates and see where it all happens. Of course, don't forget to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and all of the other must-do water activities on the beautiful beaches.