A few weeks ago, I posted a question on Instagram: where can I get a speciality Robusta coffee? I received no direction as to where I could get some speciality Robusta coffee, perhaps with good reason because speciality Robusta is not nearly as easy to get as speciality Arabica coffee. Things changed when I had a conversation last week which led to me getting my hands on a small sample of speciality Robusta coffee, graded by a professional.
This morning, my Robusta coffee arrived and I immediately got excited about brewing the coffee. I had already had one decaf, iced coffee (it has been a sunny Saturday and the sun calls for iced coffee) so I knew that, with the extra caffeine present in Robusta coffee, I would be fine to have a cup. About half an hour after the coffee arrived, I made myself a cup of Robusta coffee on my V60.
When I opened the bag of coffee – which I did almost as soon as the coffee arrived – I was greeted with an aromatic profile which I found hard to properly describe. The coffee smelled different; hints of chocolate were present, and something like a burnt smell, but not in a bad way. I am unsure if “burnt” is the right descriptor. “Different” is perhaps more accurate. Since this was my first experience with Robusta, I am not surprised by my inability to profile the aromatics well.
Upon brewing, I noticed something interesting: the coffee bloomed differently. The bloom during brewing is usually quite sludgy but this coffee was exceptional in that quality. Why this happens I do not know. I shall have to do more research. And then there was the aroma from the coffee. I got chocolately qualities with something that was, as I said earlier “different.” My impression of the coffee changed on my first sip.
I was not expecting anything from this Robusta coffee. This was not conscious. I just did not think about what I thought I would experience. In any case, my first sip was interesting. The coffee was a bit hot so I let the cup cool down a bit before I took another sip, which gave me a better insight into the coffee. I tasted strawberries, cream, and a funkiness which I associate with an Arabica coffee I have had before. This coffee was naturally processed which, in hindsight, I believe contributes to the funkiness.
I say that the coffee tasted of strawberries and cream but the coffee did not taste like I would expect Arabica to taste. There were different sensory qualities. The coffee tasted “different.” I did not take notes on sweetness or body. I cannot remember much acidity from the coffee. The Robusta was, in my opinion, a coffee on its own, which I think is the right way to look at it. The coffee was very different to any Arabica I have had.
I went for a walk around the park shortly after drinking the cup of coffee, seeing as the weather was pleasant, it was the weekend, and I had nothing else planned. The taste of the coffee persisted in my mouth and did so for quite some time. The aftertaste of the coffee was not like Arabica, leaving an impression which I am thus far unable to comprehend. And then there’s the caffeine. I suspect the caffeine content of the coffee had an impact on my system that I have not experienced with any other coffee thus far, knowing myself and my usual reaction to coffee.
I am glad I got the opportunity to try this speciality Robusta. I do not think the coffee is for everyone, nor do I think that Robusta is any better or worse than Arabica. The coffee I tried was in its own league. I think I would need to try a few more cups to build a taste for Robusta, being careful not to consume too much given the higher caffeine in a cup of Robusta. I think I will stick to Arabica as my daily driver for now but I am thoroughly impressed at what Robusta can be when treated well.