Craig Dickson (centre) and Jack Allisey (right) sharing knowledge with First Pour customers at a weekly public cupping session
Robusta gets noticed – and gets a great write-up. A credit to the dedication of grower Sethuraman Estates’ Nishant Gurjer. We’re proud doing business with you mate!
The entire article is reprinted below, or you can read it here at Good Food online.
Robusta coffee finds a champion
Robusta gets a bad rap: “bike tyre” sniffs a specialty coffee aficionado in an online forum; “100% arabica (no robusta in here)” say the labels of all but the cheapest supermarket blends.
Robusta (Coffea canephora) is a hardier, more disease- and pest-resistant coffee species than Coffea arabica, grows at lower altitudes and produces higher yields. It also contains more caffeine – about twice as much as arabica.
Something like 40 per cent of the world’s coffee output is robusta, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service – much of it grown in Vietnam, which in 2013 was the world’s second-largest coffee producer, exporting 25 million bags.
Robusta is also widely planted in India and francophone west Africa (perhaps one reason French coffee tastes so bad).
Much robusta ends up in instant coffee. It’s in traditional Italian espresso blends, lending deep, earthy notes and bold, dark flavours, and is also blended in Greek and Turkish coffee (though Greek coffee roasted in Australia is now often pure arabica).
When grown at low elevations for high yield, it can taste pretty ordinary: rubber, smoke, ash, medicinal are the words that spring to many cuppers’ lips. Robusta has not, until recently, been a guest at the specialty coffee party.
But Melbourne roaster Veneziano wants to change that, with robusta from Sethuraman Estate in India’s Karnataka state.
Three of Sethuraman’s robustas have earned Q Robusta certification from the Coffee Quality Institute, scoring more than 80 points in cupping by qualified graders, and are certified as specialty.
As Veneziano’s Craig Dickson explains: “The specialty coffee movement has resulted in us roasting somewhat lighter to highlight the sweetness, acidity and also the complex individual flavours of beans.
“But in milk these complexities can be lost and the coffee struggles to cut through. Using specialty grade
robusta allows us to put a blend together that achieves a carry-through of flavours, without the traditional taints of robusta coffee, which generally come from poor processing.”
The Sethuraman robusta really shines in Veneziano’s Forza blend, giving deep, toasty, chocolatey notes to short blacks and milk coffee.
The Forza is one of Veneziano’s most popular blends, especially, says roaster Jack Allisey, in places that do a lot of takeaways.
“Robusta treated as specialty coffee displays lots of desirable flavours: chocolate, sweet, creamy,” says Allisey. “And it brings great viscosity and mouthfeel to the cup.”