Robusta is a separate species of coffee, distinct from Arabica, with its own unique properties. As a crop, it is easy to force it to grow in sub-optimal conditions, so there's quite a lot of poor quality Robusta out there. However, when grown with the care a gourmet crop deserves, Robusta yields a deliciously dark, rich, high-caffeine coffee that stimulates the "back palate" region of your taste buds.
People around the world, including the USA, are evenly divided between "front palate" people and "back palate" people. We find that people who respond well to Vietnamese coffees in general tend to be back palate people, and Robusta excites primarily the back of the palate. If you often find Arabica coffees too "thin" or vaguely unsatisfying, you may be a back palate person. Try some Robusta--it might be a revelation!
One other interesting property of Robusta is its ability to stand up to milk and ice. Robusta is naturally lower in acidity than Arabica, so you don't need milk, but a lot of people simply like the taste and body milk adds to their drink. This is particularly true in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, where coffee is normally served with sweetened condensed milk. Robusta's flavor elements are not dampened by the addition of even a large amount of milk. Robusta also does not lose intensity when served on ice. As a result, it is a necessary part of Vietnamese-style iced coffee!
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The Araku Valley of India
India's coffee tradition goes back 400 years or more, when a variety called Kent was first established in the Southern Hills. Arabicas predominated until the blight of 1870, when growers needed to hybridize to resistant varieties. The resultant strains had genes from Liberica and other unique, resistant species. Learn more and browse India's Araku Valley coffees here.