Specialty coffee is often associated with Arabica beans, and C. canephora (or Robusta) beans are often associated with low-quality commercial, instant or blended coffee. Contributing to the success of the Arabica variety comes in part from the care and focus on production and processing and the pool of resources and research invested in producing high-quality coffee. Does this beg whether paying attention to Robusta to the same extent can improve its quality?
“Robust” means strong. So, in addition to robusta endurance, it also has a strong flavor and rich in caffeine. In other words, robusta has gained popularity throughout the coffee growing world thanks to its ease of care and strong disease resistance – all of which could soon be gone, however.
In this article, you will come across the name “C. canephora” which is used in parallel with “Robusta” – This is not the name of the same species of coffee, but Robusta is just a trading name for the species Coffea canephora – For a better understanding, you should see more about the connection relationship between Coffea Canephora and Robusta.
Robusta is not really “Robust.”
Currently, the estimated optimal mean annual temperature range for Robusta production is between 22-30 °C. This estimate is based on climatic conditions within the species’ native range in the Congo Basin, Central Africa – the home of C. canephora.
An international team of researchers from Australia, Vietnam, and Colombia used an extensive agricultural yield data set to quantify the optimal temperature range of Robusta coffee in cultivation and its sensitivity to temperature change. The authors of the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology and accredited by the SCA, show that Robusta is much more sensitive to temperature than previously thought.
Based on ten years of field observations at 798 farms across Southeast Asia, the study found that Robusta has an optimal temperature below 20.5 °C (or average min/max of ≤16, 2 / 24.1°C). A number that is “distinctly” lower than the optimal temperature suggested in previous studies. Worryingly, the study also showed that for every one-degree increase above this optimum temperature, yield decreased by 14%.
At the currently assumed optimal temperature range of Robusta (average annual temperature above 25.1 °C), coffee yields are 50% below optimal, the researchers note. ≤20.5 °C.
“Our results show that C. canephora is much more sensitive to temperature than previously thought. “Its potential yield could drop dramatically as temperatures rise with climate change, jeopardizing the multibillion-dollar coffee industry and the livelihoods of millions of farmers.” The authors said.
New concerns about a coffee variety
Whether through World Coffee Research’s efforts to map the coffee genome or the competitive pressures of producers interested in different types of coffee. All are oriented towards one idea: Global warming could provide an opportunity for C. canephora to enter the specialty coffee sector.
Although some researchers say that C.canephora may not have adapted well to the conditions of a warmer planet, there are quite a few success stories of low-altitude C.arabica farms of moderate quality. Often converted to C. canephora and produced higher rate. Agriculture. From the farmer’s point of view, it is better and more profitable to have “good” C. canephora than bad C. arabica.
Specialty coffee C.canephora – Father of all coffee varieties
C. Canephora is, in fact, the parent species of C. Arabica, which together with C. Eugenoides gave rise to the present-day C. Arabica coffee plant; And so C. Canephora has a much broader genetic diversity than C. Arabica.
C. canephora has been found as a native species in a wide range of habitats, from the Atlantic coast of equatorial Africa to the highlands around Lake Victoria, at about 1,000 meters above sea level. This vast gene bank certainly holds many surprises in taste and quality. However, the C. canephora variety has only been bred for commercial yield, instant coffee yield, and resistance to pests and diseases throughout history!
Dr. Mario Fernandez, Technical Director of CQI, said, “Robusta has several characteristics that make it more attractive than Arabica to some farmers, roasters, and consumers. Many people in the specialty coffee industry do not understand the mistake of comparing Arabica and Robusta in terms of quality… They are two species of the same genus, like donkeys and horses. Both donkeys and horses are valuable resources for humans, but each species has different names and serves different purposes… There is suitable soil for Arabica and suitable land for growing Arabica and Robusta.”
Why is Arabica better than Robusta?
Arabica has lower caffeine, amino acid, and chlorogenic acid content than Robusta, but 60% more oil in total. Chlorogenic acid contributes to astringent notes, so the low amount of acid helps Arabica significantly increase its final quality. In contrast, many volatile aromatic compounds are dissolved (and trapped) in the oil droplets before releasing during preparation, so high oil content may explain some of the differences in flavor quality, between Arabica and Robusta, especially in Espresso Andrea Illy and Rinantonio Viani in Espresso Coffee: The Science of Quality.
In addition, the quality of coffee comes not only from the chemistry or genetics of the bean but also from human choice. The specialty Arabica cups we drink today are not only a gift of nature but the result of a centuries-old screening process that has emphasized quality-related factors before being released into production: production, processing, roasting, and blending. More notably, Arabica is invested in more time and resources than Robusta throughout the entire supply chain, which has a significant impact on the final flavor we achieve.
The vicious cycle of a secondary coffee
The main reason it is so difficult to find high-quality C. canephora in the market is that it is kept in a vicious cycle of poor quality. Regarded by the market as low-quality coffee, prices were confined to the floor, rendering C. canephora uncommercially viable as a differentiated product. Without the lift from the market, producers of C. canephora, even with the potential to achieve high-quality products, are discouraged from doing so. If they try to produce high-quality C. canephora, costs will go up, but they will still get low rates.
For that reason, manufacturers strive to keep costs to a minimum, resulting in a consistently low-quality product with no differentiation and further reinforcing the market perception of Robusta as a low-quality product, so the circle continues.
It can be said that if C. canephora was given the same care and attention as Arabica, it could offer a higher level of experience and respect for the species. But if we don’t have a market demand for premium Robusta, farmers have little incentive to improve quality at the farm level – perfectdailygrind.com
From the lesson on “natural coffee.”
However, C. canephora may break out of this cycle in the future; We have had a precedent for the dry processing of C. arabica coffee over the past decade. As an alternative to traditional wet (washed) coffees. In the 20th century, naturally processed C. arabica (natural coffee) was engulfed in the same vicious cycle of low quality that we just described for C. canephora. However, from 2008 to 2018, Arabica coffee broke out of that cycle, and it is entirely natural for dry-processed coffee to appear in third-wave coffee shops around the world today.
Breaking out of the cycle is not easy. It requires a significant concerted effort by many links in many producing and consuming countries to raise awareness about organic coffee; It’s been years of scientific research in Brazil, Germany, and New Zealand. Including the Q Grader course cupper training in natural coffee evaluation. Including the inclusion of processed natural coffee in the World Barista Competition and the replication of the processing process of the Panama Geisha coffee producers,…
To sum up, “natural coffee” isn’t suddenly approved and doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen for specialty coffees and presents a similar opportunity for coffee makers. Specialty C. canephora coffee. Raising awareness, developing standards, increasing research and increasing education about C. canephora appear to be the way forward for specialty Robusta worldwide.
Special qualities of C.canephora
So can C. canephora be specialty coffee? If you are determined to delve into the problem of the definition of “specialty coffee,” you will find that the Cambridge dictionary defines a specialty as “a product that is extremely delicious in a particular place” – in that sense, any Certain agricultural products, and exceptionally complex products such as wine, tea, and coffee, can be “extremely good in a particular place” and thus become a specialty.
This is undoubtedly true of C. canephora, no doubt. However, how can we know canephora is “extremely good”? Using the same quality criteria for C. arabica would be like “a donkey running test.” Although C. canephora and C. arabica belong to the same genus, like coffee, they are distinct species. Quality criteria – such as plums and peaches – need to be specified for C. canephora.
New protocol for specialty Robusta coffee
Robusta has begun to gain recognition in the specialty coffee world. In 2010, the International Coffee Quality Institute ( CQI ) published its official Fine Robusta Standards and Protocols – adapted from the Specialty Coffee Association Arabica grading method. These protocols have helped the industry distinguish between good and bad Robusta.
Specialty Robusta may not be as well known as specialty Arabica, but thanks to producers’ efforts, this may change in the future. However, to find new markets, coffee buyers will need to appreciate it as its product – without comparing it to Arabica. By understanding “C. canephora has something to offer users, buyers can help introduce it to the market as a new way to experience coffee, not as a substitute for Arabica.
As we begin to understand and define the quality of C. canephora cups, we can start to find and develop varieties with better flavors. Still, at the same time, we will also need to learn the methods of processing, roasting, and roasting. And which concoction is most suitable for this species. Learning how to use C. canephora for specialty coffee won’t be short or easy, but it could add new flavors to our coffee industry and – at the same time – help solve some of the problems. Current problems faced by C. arabica.