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What Have You Bean Drinking? – Your Essential Guide to Coffee Species

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

It’s early in the morning and the sun is telling you to head out for the day, but before that, you have to grab your cup of coffee. You pour hot water onto the instant granules and get yourself ready to go.

Later in the day, you grab another cup of coffee, this time from your nearby specialty cafe to give yourself that badly needed midday caffeine boost.

You might have realised that those two cups of coffee almost never taste the same, even when drunk without milk or sweeteners. Have you ever wondered why?

Let’s turn back in time – no, not to earlier this morning, but rather, to when your coffees were still in the form of coffee beans. You might realise that the beans from your two coffees may seem different from each other. That’s because they are; Coffee beans around the world tend to come from two main species – Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica, mostly exported by Brazil, makes up 70% of the world’s production, while Robusta, mostly exported by Vietnam, makes up the rest.

In Singapore, both are consumed in large quantities. Some of you might swear by the earthy and heavy Singaporean coffee shop coffees made from Robusta beans, while some of you will only accept the complex coffees made from 100% Arabica beans in a specialty cafe!

When it comes to comparing the two settings, you might notice that Singaporean coffee shop coffees cost only a few Singapore dollars, while specialty coffees can easily cost up to S$6 or more. Outrageous? Well, there’s a perfectly good reason for that!

Robusta has twice the amount of caffeine than the Ethiopian-indigenous Arabica. Caffeine, being a natural pesticide, also makes Robusta more ‘robust’ against pests and diseases compared to Arabica. Arabica also requires high altitudes to grow but generates low yield, making it a plant that requires more tender loving care to flourish.

With so much effort and care needed to grow a quality Arabica, it is little wonder why they cost so much more than Robusta beans!

In fact, in 2017, there was a top quality coffee sold for S$85 a cup in Singapore!

Which type of coffee do you prefer? Regardless, like we’ve discussed in this other article, there’s no good or bad coffee, there’s only the one you prefer!

Now when you buy your daily cup of coffee, you can think about what your coffee bean’s bean through!

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