Historically, most of the robusta coffee produced globally has been used in blends of instant coffee and espresso by large companies with mass commercial coffee products. For much of its history, robusta has been rendered invisible and in secrecy, stripped of its origin or label on packages.
On top of that, robusta coffee has been kept artificially cheap by large corporations that need large amounts of coffee to meet consumer demands. This ultimately hurts farmers and producers who are unable to sell their products for more given limited options for vendors as well as the inability to improve the quality of their products.
These days, robusta coffee is on the rise in the United States, with many coffee shops and independent roasters sourcing and touting these beans with pride and transparency. But where does robusta coffee come from? Where is robusta coffee grown? As the second most popular type of coffee consumed around the world, robusta deserves increased visibility and representation in the coffee industry.
Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil. However, in terms of robusta production, Vietnam is the leading producer of robusta coffee globally. Over 90% of the coffee grown and produced in Vietnam is of the robusta variety. Today, 90% of it is still grown and produced for export to other countries such as Germany, Italy, and the United States for commercial coffee blends.
With the increased interest in specialty coffee and the Fourth Wave of coffee that emphasizes the producers as well as the origin of coffee beans, though, we’re witnessing many producers in Vietnam growing specialty robusta beans to meet consumer demands while improving their own products and livelihoods.
Next to Vietnam, other countries that produce large amounts of robusta include Indonesia, India, Brazil, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Robusta is grown all over the world and as such has highly varied flavors depending on its country of origin, especially in the form of single origin specialty coffee beans.
As climate change exacerbates the agricultural landscape of the planet, the world will shift toward higher robusta consumption due to its ability to thrive in varied conditions and climates. Robusta is naturally more pest resistant and overall a hardier plant than arabica, making it the apt choice for investment in a coffee future that will see decreased arable land and conditions that make growing harder.
With the majority of the world’s robusta coffee grown in Vietnam, Vietnamese coffee culture is intimately tied to this coffee bean. As the world wakes up to robusta, they’ll naturally also wake up to Vietnamese coffee that has been consumed for centuries. Until and unless other coffee producing countries convert their production to prioritize robusta, Vietnam will continue to grow robusta coffee en masse while developing complex, single origin, specialty varieties like our very own Truegrit.