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The Robusta bean - Part 2. Tasting.

25/5/2015
We tasted the the Black Sheep Coffee 100% Kaapi Royale Mandarin from the Sethuraman Estate in India. This is a specialty grade Robusta with the prestigious R-grade certification. 

As an espresso, the difference between this and an Arabica espresso is obvious. The crema of our Robusta coffee is lighter in colour, taller and more structural. It is less of the ‘liquid velvet’ of an Arabica coffee crema and lighter, more structural and has a greater volume.  

The generally held belief is that Robusta coffees are ‘stronger’ and ‘more bitter’. It is true that a Robusta coffee has a higher caffeine content than an Arabica coffee, but it is certainly not true in this case that a Robusta bean creates a stronger & more bitter coffee.

This 100% Robusta coffee has a deep chocolate and caramel flavour and a slightly stickier consistency than a lighter and more citrus Arabica. In a flat white, this depth and Robusta smoothness remains and really cuts through the milk, where the lightness of an Arabica can sometimes struggle. The addition of even the smallest amount of sugar opens up the flavour profile in an unexpected way.
We also tasted our Caffe Putto Due Puttini, which is a 70% Arabica 30% Robusta blend. This is a typical Italian caffe Robusta blend, and was roasted by Signior Putto in his small but very welcoming ‘torrefazzione’ on the outskirts of Turin. The crema this blend creates is generous and smooth, and much closer to that created by an Arabica bean. As might be expected, the flavour is also a balance of the two kinds of bean, with the lightness of the Arabica hitting early, and the depth of the Robusta providing smooth support, especially with prepared with milk. As an espresso, I prefer taking this coffee with a small amount of sugar, but in a latte, the sweetness of the milk suffices.

A well sourced, carefully roasted and skilfully prepared Robusta, or Robusta blend can be a real joy and in my opinion is particularly good in a milky coffee, where the depth of of the coffee is not overpowered by the milk.
 
We don't think we will change people’s drinking habits away from Arabica, and neither do we want to. But we think that it is worth trying a Robusta coffee or Robusta blend as both offer complimentary experiences.