Robusta coffee or lowland coffee (scientific Coffea canephora) is a plant species from the coffee genus (Coffea). It was discovered in Africa in the 19th century.
Robusta coffee grows as a shrub or tree up to eight meters high. In cultivation, the plants are kept significantly smaller for better manageability. The leaves are elongated-elliptical, rarely also egg or lanceolate. They are up to 40 centimeters long, have a clear tip and sometimes a slightly wavy edge. The stipules are triangular and pointed at a length of six to 18 millimeters. The flowers are five to six, rarely seven and are in axillary clusters of eight to thirty. The fruits are broad, egg-shaped-elliptical and usually contain two seeds, the so-called coffee beans. These are yellow-brown, round and have a straight notch on the flat side.
Since Robusta coffee is sensitive to the cold, cultivation is limited to the 10th parallel (south and north) of the equator. Southeast Asia and West Africa therefore offer good climatic conditions. Robusta is mainly grown in the lowlands, ideally below 700 meters of altitude. As of 2015, Vietnam is the largest producer and exporter of Robusta.
With around 40% of the world's coffee harvest, Robusta is the second most important variety after Arabica coffee. This species is less sensitive to diseases, heat and high humidity. It bears more and faster ripening fruit. The ripening period is approximately 6 months, which means that several harvests per year are possible.
The fruits are usually processed dry. They are dried as a whole with pulp and parchment casing in the sun and then processed in peeling machines, which extract the actual beans. The taste of Robusta is earthy to woody. Robusta is bitter and has fewer flavors than Arabica, but it has a fuller body, which is why it is particularly valued for espresso. At two to four percent, the caffeine content is about twice as high as that of Arabica coffee and the content of chlorogenic acid is also about twice as high. High-quality coffee blends mostly consist mostly of arabica, but especially in espresso blends, Robusta is often added to arabica (e.g. in a ratio of 20:80) in order to achieve a higher caffeine content and a more intense aroma.