How to Drink Robusta Coffee
Robusta coffee beans make up a small portion of the coffee consumed in the United States, and we’re here to change that. Did you know that over 90% of all coffee produced in Vietnam is robusta? If you’ve been to Vietnam and had the coffee there, you’ll know that it has a distinctive flavor profile that is often hard to replicate elsewhere. That’s a result of the beans– luckily, we’ve got you covered. It may be your first time drinking robusta, or perhaps you’ve never heard of it before. We’ll walk you through the process so you don’t have to worry.
Robusta coffee beans have a reputation for being bitter, but that’s an entirely subjective distinction and it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, most coffees have inherent bitterness in them– that’s just a part of their complexity. Many, especially those in the Western Hemisphere, just aren’t used to bitterness as their diets don’t include it. In countries like Vietnam and Italy, bitterness is an essential taste and component to culinary culture.
So now that you’ve pushed the bitter naysayers away and have your bag of robusta beans, you need to brew them. While there are many black coffee drinkers in the world, some coffees do better and are actually supposed to be consumed with additions such as milk or sweetener. Cà phê sữa đá is a prime example of that. Iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk is a staple that can be found on virtually every street in Vietnam and for good reason– it tastes great and gets you going.
Robusta coffee beans have nearly twice the amount of caffeine that arabica ground coffee beans do, meaning you should prepare yourself if you haven’t had robusta before or you’re not a caffeine fiend. Taste-wise, robusta coffee generally contains bold, nutty, and chocolatey notes (due to the fact that it has 60% less sugar and fats) and has a more robust flavor, hence the name. For those who enjoy the darkest and strongest brew possible, robusta coffee black is the ultimate choice. Otherwise, it's often best to consume robusta coffee with milk or sweetener so that the layers of flavor can interact. When you drink something very strong, the taste can appear one-dimensional, but when you mix it with complementary elements, the flavor evolves and reveals their underlying complexities.
In the end, there’s no right or wrong way to drink coffee. These experiences are entirely subjective– you may like yours black, and you may like the taste of the strongest coffees that way as well. You may also like your coffee balanced with milk and sugar. We can’t tell you what to do (and it will taste great regardless). Thankfully, robusta coffee is bold and versatile. Either way, when you have a specialty coffee bean that has layers of flavor itself, there’s room to experiment and unpack the flavors through a variety of different brewing methods. The world is yours, and so is our coffee. Know that when you drink robusta, you’re drinking a beloved bean (in Vietnam) with a completely different profile than that of what you may be used to. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!
Shop our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit here.
Make your own fun, complex coffee creations using our recipes here.
Learn about the differences between robusta and arabica coffee here.