Geek Culture
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Coffee Data Science

We Don’t Talk About Robusta!

Another view on robusta

I was first introduced to espresso in Europe, and the biggest draw was the mouthfeel. I suspect most of that mouthfeel came from the robusta coffee in the blend. However, upon returning to the US, I discovered coffee generally sucked. Specialty coffee was just getting rolling.

By the time I started having espresso again, the coffee was better, but it was all arabica. I found ways to push the limits and improve the mouthfeel, to get that syrupy taste. However, I continued searching for a robusta that mixed well or was good on its own.

Little did I know, I was looking in the wrong spots.

Enter Hiver at Chromatic Coffee

I met Hiver van Geenhoven from Chromatic Coffee over Instagram, and we knew we found the right kind of coffee nerds in each other. I wanted to try Osma, and he wanted to try staccato espresso. So we met, and we talked deeply about coffee. Once we got on the subject of Robusta, he introduced me to Masadi.

The beans were huge!

He gave me some to roast, and they were amazing and beautiful.

I knew robusta beans were larger, but these were twice as large as a typical arabica.

This was the mouthfeel I was looking for. It didn’t have the sweetness, but the bitterness was different. This was a different than any coffee I had ever had, and it transported me back to Europe.

Tips for Robusta

First, let the shot cool. Typically, I cool a shot of arabica coffee until it is 47C or less, which takes about 6 minutes. For straight robusta shots, I found it takes closer to 10 minutes to cool to the best tasty point. Without cooling the shot, you can’t taste the different flavors underneath the bitterness. With cooler temperatures, the bitterness subsides.

Secondly, drink slowly. After the initial bitter taste, it almost seems as if your tongue normalizes to the level of bitterness. Once it does, that flavor won’t overwhelm, it is just beautiful. The Masadi bitterness isn’t gross or astringent, but more like a regular flavor to enjoy.

Not all robusta coffees are great, and they should be roasted separately from arabica in a blend due to density, but some are amazing because they have been cared for as much as specialty arabica.

Salami Robusta

To add some data on how robusta extracts, I found that it is a little slower at the beginning, and the extraction rate accelerates later in the shot as compared to a plateau with arabica to be closer to what I would expect from a staccato shot.

I pulled this salami shot into five cups, and I tasted each cup. Unlike arabica, the last two cups didn’t taste unpleasant; they just didn’t have a strong taste. The first cup had all of the intensity and flavor of the final shot.

I’m so thrilled to have found some robusta coffees that are amazing. I look forward to the day when great robustas are as common as great arabica beans. I think they are better for milk based espresso drinks than arabica beans because of the spectacular mouthfeel. This is especially true for affogato.

I think developing a deeper understanding and appreciation for robusta coffee will impact and improve all coffee.

If you like, follow me on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram where I post videos of espresso shots on different machines and espresso related stuff. You can also find me on LinkedIn. You can also follow me on Medium and Subscribe.

Further readings of mine:

My Future Book

My Links

Collection of Espresso Articles

A Collection of Work and School Stories

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