Most American roasters buy green coffee using the rule of thumb “Arabica good, Robusta bad.” They do so because they’re familiar only with the cheap, low quality, commercial grade Robusta that one often found in supermarket coffee in a can. The fact that some Robusta can actually be clean, high-quality, and suitable for inclusion in top-flight espresso blends is something that many American roasters struggle to comprehend.
High quality Robusta is difficult to source, with India being one of the few origins that can produce Espresso Grade Robusta. What separates high quality Robusta from its low quality counterpart is the high degree of care that coffee plantations in India apply to cultivation, harvesting, and processing of Robusta- typically the same care they apply to Arabica beans.
These factors include:
- High Elevation (up to 1400 meters)
- Shade Growing
- Emphasizing Bean Quality over Plant Yield
- Selective Picking
- Careful and Extensive Washing and Drying
- Meticulous Sorting and Grading
As a result of this effort, Indian Robusta coffees are some of the cleanest, mellowest Robusta in the world. It has none of the rubbery aftertaste one normally associates with such coffees. This has allowed Indian Robusta to play an integral role in Italian and European espresso blends. Consequently, coffee markets assign a substantial premium for these beans.
USING ROBUSTA IN AN ESPRESSO BLEND
The inclusion of clean, high-quality Robusta can provide several benefits to an espresso blend. First, because Robusta has a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans, it gives the blend the extra “kick” that espresso consumers expect. Second, because most Americans consume their espresso in milk-based beverages, high-quality Robusta helps fortify the blend. By cutting into the milk, the Robusta component helps bring out the flavors of the Arabica coffees that serve as a blend’s flavor and/or highlighter components. The final, and perhaps most significant, benefit is that premium Robusta enhances the richness and longevity of an espresso blend’s crema without detracting from the flavor. Robusta doesn’t produce MORE crema, as many wrongly assert; instead, it contributes to LONGER-LASTING crema.
This monsooned coffee is the Robusta equivalent of Monsooned Malabar-AA, and the beans undergo exactly the same process as the Arabica version, but using the top grade of naturally processed Robusta instead. This coffee comes in 132-pound bags.
This coffee exhibits a very soft, mellow, clean flavor. It’s best use is in espresso blends, especially those using Brazil naturals as the base. The primary benefit of using Monsooned Robusta-AA is that it (A) enhances the richness and persistence of your crema and (B) helps the flavors of the blend cut into milk. Using this bean also boosts the caffeine content of your blend and takes some of the edge off the Brazilian component.