Reader’s Questions: Does my favorite coffee brand include Robusta? Are they good beans?

By | June 16, 2015

At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site!

I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, why don’t you drop me a line! This week we welcome …


Does my favorite coffee brand include Robusta? Are they good beans?

by Anon from UK


I was looking at the canister of my favorite coffee brand, one that I purchase regularly. I was wondering if Robusta coffee is included because it tastes slightly bitter now. Can you help?

Thank you

Robusta is often added to espresso because it tends to have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. Its flavor also is a little more bitter. Of course, its price is cheaper which is why it’s (over-)used in a lot of commercial coffee. So if you don’t see the contents as stating “100% Arabica”, there’s a high probability that it includes Robusta Coffee Beans.

In fact, there are some very good Robusta beans, but you won’t often see them in commercial brands. Italians still make espresso with a percentage of Robusta, to give it an edge & a kick.

I really think the only way to know is it the packet/can/bag says “100% Arabica”. And if it’s instant coffee, I’d expect to see Robusta in there, as a given. So check the canister you bought and see if there are any clues.

There are also variations in the beans, the drying, the blending & the roasting that will cause some variation in the flavor profile, esp. if you’re buying from individual regions or origins and/or from a small roaster.

The big companies like Starbucks do a much better job of maintaining their standard of roast, but it could be that roasting too long does tend to even out the flavor differences between beans and produce a more general ‘coffee’ flavor.

This could be because of a coffee beans price increase or increase in the roaster’s costs, the coffee may include cheaper coffee beans (either Robusta or Arabica) that exhibit more bitterness. You’d have to tell me the actual brand & blend to know, though.

Hope that helps.