Arabica & Robusta Vietnam Coffee: Testing, Sourcing, and Exporting

Coffee is arguably the world’s most consumed beverage. It is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans. The intake of coffee has a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine presence. Coffee has its origin in modern-day Yemen in the 15th century.

Coffee beans today have become a major cash crop with a chief export value. It accounts for about 50% of the foreign exchange of some developing nations.

We know Vietnam today as one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee. They are ranked as the second on the chart just behind Brazil.

Arabica and Robusta are the two major and most economical varieties of the coffee plant. They look similar, but they are very different.

If you are looking for producers of quality coffee beans produced and support fair trade in Vietnam, you can discover movetoasia.com’s guide on how to find the best producers in Vietnam.

Arabica Coffee

Arabica coffee, also known as “Coffea arabica” or “Arabian coffee” or “Mountain coffee” or “Coffee shrub of Arabia,” is one of the most important varieties of coffee plants. It is also believed to be the first specie of the cultivated coffee plant.

Arabica coffee plant is the most dominant specie of coffee plants with a global production rate of about 60%. The first documented record of Arabica coffee was in the 12th century in Yemen.

Some scholars believe that this roasted beans innovation in Yemen was useful in prolonging the work hours of the Yemeni people. Other schools of thought believed that the discovery of the coffee plant was based on a Yemeni tradition.

It takes about 7 years for Arabica coffee to grow to full maturity, requiring an average annual rainfall of about 1.0 – 1.5 m for the healthy growth of this crop. This specie of coffee plant can survive in average low temperatures between 15 to 24 C.

The Arabica coffee plant can grow to 5m in height, but they usually trim it to 2m for easy harvesting. Arabica coffee plant has an issue of producing too much berries, which can lead to poor yield. Regular pruning of the tree can prevent this.

The most valuable and exportable part of the crop is the bean found inside the plant’s berry. Each berry has two locules that contain the beans.

Arabica coffee plant does not do well in certain conditions like cold or low soil ph. It is also vulnerable to pest attacks more than any other variety of coffee plant cultivated.

Robusta Coffee

We scientifically know Robusta coffee as coffea canephora or coffea robusta. It is the second variety of coffee plant with the most global production – about 40%. This specie of coffee plant is the most produced and exported species in Vietnam.

Robusta coffee has its origin from Africa and was later introduced to the Vietnam people in the late 19th century by the French colonists. It was not recognized as a coffee specie until 1897, over a hundred years after discovering the Arabica coffee plant.

Robusta has a shallow root system and can grow as a tree or shrub to a height of 10m. It takes about 10 to 11 months for the cherries of the Robusta coffee plant to ripen. The cherries produce oval-shaped beans.

They can withstand temperatures between 24 – 30 C and require an average annual rainfall between 1.5 to 3.0m.

We know this specie of coffee plant to be of low acidity and high bitterness. Also, it is less susceptible to pests and diseases when compared to the Arabica coffee plant. They have higher caffeine content and contain less sugar than the Arabica.

This specie of coffee plant is cheap and easier to cultivate and also to care for. Roasted Robusta beans produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a unique flavor, but also bitter. They use it primarily in instant coffee, espressos, and as a filler in ground coffee beans.

We can also use them can as an antioxidant and helps to relieve asthma.

Testing

The Arabica and Robusta coffee plants are different in so many ways. We can notice their differences in taste, chemical composition, yield, etc.

Arabica coffee bean seed is oval and larger while Robusta appears to be round. The Arabica tastes sweeter and has high acidic content. It contains high sugar content and is also very expensive.

Some believe that the Robusta is of a lower quality compared to the Arabica, but that may not be true. Arabica coffee plant takes several years to grow to maturity but produces more fruit compared to the Robusta.

Robusta, on the other hand, is a high-quality coffee bean. Although they have harsh and bitter taste, they are more caffeinated and have low sugar content. They produce a better fruit yield than the Arabica, and it is easier to cultivate.

The Robusta coffee bean is cheaper in the market and has more usage. They are majorly used in making Italian espressos. They also have a lower acidity compared to Arabica. You can also discover this in-depth article from Lonelyplanet about Vietnamese coffee.

Sourcing

Coffee production has grown over the past few decades. Several countries are now home to the finest Arabica and Robusta coffee plants. Since its origin, over 80 countries of the world have cultivated this famous cash crop.

Coffee is majorly produced in highland countries in Africa, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, etc. and also Latin America countries. Arabica coffee plant is predominantly found in Latin American countries, most especially Brazil and Colombia.

Asian countries like India are also famous for the production of Arabica coffee plant. The Robusta coffee plant has its roots in Africa. But in recent years, they have identified Vietnam as the country with the highest production of the plant surpassing Indonesia and many more.

Exporting

Coffee is a major cash crop in the world. Nearly every country in the world consumes the beverage, coffee. Some countries produce and export just one variety of cash crops, while some others export both varieties.

Brazil is the country with the highest production and exportation of coffee beans. We know them to export a greater percentage of the total world’s production of about 9 million tons. They export more of the Arabica coffee bean and the Robusta on a smaller scale.

Vietnam, with a production rate of over 1.5 million tons, surpassed Indonesia and Colombia to become the 2nd highest exporters of coffee, and the highest exporters of the Robusta coffee bean.

Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Uganda, Guatemala, all make up the top ten producers and exporters of coffee.

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