The three main commercial coffee varieties
There are over 120 species of Coffea, with three main types being cultivated for commercial use. These are
*Image By Elcambur - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27311361
Robusta Coffee is most commonly found in instant coffee and some traditional espresso blends. The reason for this is its low prices. Robusta is half the price of Arabica. This lower pricing results in less care into the farming practices and ends up creating end products of a lower grade. These low-grade Robusta coffees are known to taste like burnt tires and rubbery. This is not to say that there are no high-quality Robusta, but it is rare.
Robusta Coffee is popular among farmers due to their disease resistance and higher yields. Robusta contains twice the amount of caffeine as compared to Arabica Coffee. This contributes to its higher bitterness and resistance to insects on the farm.
Most of specialty coffee is made up of Arabica coffee. They are generally regarded as higher grade which is why many companies market themselves as serving only 100% Arabica blends.
Arabica coffee contains 60% more lipids and almost twice the concentration of sugars compared to Robusta. This contributes to their milder and sweeter tastes.
Arabica coffee is prone to diseases such as leaf rust and insect damage. Their yield is also lower than their Robusta counterparts, resulting in much higher prices for their coffees.
Cup of Excellence
The top Arabica Coffees in each country are commonly sold in auctions known as the Cup of Excellence (COE). These are the top 1% of coffees in terms of cup scores and deliver much more nuanced and complex flavours. Prices for coffees at these auctions fetch 2 – 3 times more than what is normally possible through importers and exporters. The top-ranking coffees can sometimes even reach almost 10 times their normal pricing.
Compound Coffee Co. believes in these auctions as a way of rewarding farmers for their excellent and hard work. Not only do they get paid better but it also incentivises the farmers to continuously produce high quality coffee. The higher quality impacts consumers on the other end of the supply chain who are also willing to pay more for these coffees. The cycle continues and creates a more sustainable eco-system.