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Arabica Beans vs. Robusta Beans - Which Is Best For Espresso?

People often get confused about the type of coffee to use when making espresso. Arabica? Robusta? French Roast? Italian Roast?

If you're confused, don't worry - you're not alone. Most people don't know the difference between these different things but I'm going to clear it all up for you today once and for all. Hopefully!

First things first, let's get one thing cleared up right away. There is no specific espresso bean. It's all just coffee beans. There's not a certain type of coffee bean that is just used for espresso. It's not the bean that makes espresso, it's the act of forcing water over the coffee grounds using a pressurized pump that makes it the espresso.

So you can take any kind of coffee you like, grind it up, stick it in an espresso machine and you'll have espresso. Granted, depending on the type of bean that you use - you might not have very good tasting espresso, but it will be espresso nonetheless.

Of course, that begs the question... which coffee beans should you use to make the best tasting espresso?

Unfortunately that's not something I can tell you because everybody has different tastes. Personally I enjoy Illy coffee beans myself.

But the purpose of this guide is to explain the different types of beans that are available and give you an idea of what you can expect, and what kind of espresso each bean will make.

Arabica Beans

You've probably heard the term Arabica beans in the past, but what are they? Basically it's a type of coffee that was originally grown in the Middle East, specifically in Yemen (up in the mountains). Some people suggest that it was the first coffee that was ever grown.

Arabica coffee has less caffeine in it, and therefore isn't quite as strong as some other types of coffee out there. Espresso is a very strong drink so some people tend to shy away from Arabica beans when making it. Like I said though, I like to use Illy beans, and they're Arabica, so...

Robusta Coffee

Robusta is actually a form of the Coffea canephora (or more specifically, we call Coffea Canephora "Robusta" because it's easier to say!). It grows mostly in Africa and also a little bit in Brazil. They also have it in Southeast Asia to some degree.

Robusta coffee is much easier to grow and therefore a little less expensive. It has twice as much caffeine as arabica coffee and is much better at creating crema in espresso for that reason.

Arabica coffee is considered "superior" to Robusta (which is used in cheaper coffee blends but specifically in espresso blends because of the high caffeine content).

Which is Better for Espresso?

It's a poser. Arabica is considered better coffee, but Robusta has more caffeine and makes better espresso crema so it's what people often use to make espresso.

Again, your own tastes will come into play here. At the end of the day, the only thing for you to do is to try both of them and make up your own mind. But really; when you think about it, that's the fun of it! Take your time, try lots of different coffee beans until you find that exact one that speaks to you. Enjoy the ride.

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