When people think of “Vietnamese coffee beans,” one variety comes to mind: Robusta. Robusta coffee beans have had a near-constant presence in the country ever since French colonizers introduced the coffee variety in the 19th century, being a staple in kitchens, cafes, and restaurants around the country to this day.
But Robusta coffee has a long history before the French ever stepped foot in Vietnam. Like its counterpart Arabica, Robusta beans originated thousands of years ago in present-day Ethiopia. The beans soon spread throughout Western and Central Africa, and were later naturalized around the globe in Borneo, French Polynesia, Central America, and the Caribbean. However, unlike Arabica, which has been synonymous in the West with coffee culture for hundreds of years, Robusta beans were not officially recognized as a variety of coffee until 1897.
In general, Robusta beans are distinguished from their Arabica counterparts in their production, flavor, and caffeine content. Robusta beans generally are grown at lower altitudes, are more disease- and pest-resistant, and yield larger crops than their Arabica counterparts. Likewise, Robusta beans are known for having higher caffeine content than Arabica beans, and maintain a strong, bright flavor with nutty overtones.
Unfortunately, Robusta beans in the West have historically received a bad reputation, as the beans are commonly used as filler in Arabica blends due to having a lower cost of production. Likewise, many coffee drinkers in the West are hesitant to try Robusta beans simply because they are overshadowed by their Arabica counterparts.
That said, Robusta beans have taken on a life of their own throughout Vietnam. Vietnam is home to a wide variety of micro-climates perfect for growing Robusta beans. Communities like Da Lat, where all of Omni Bev’s Arabica and Robusta beans are grown, give Robusta beans a distinct flavor unparalleled by beans sourced from anywhere else in the world due to the region’s higher elevation and rich, deep red volcanic soils.
Following the introduction of Robusta beans by the French, Vietnam developed a longstanding relationship with the coffee variety. Traditional coffee drinks likecà phê đá, which is brewed using a Phin and sweetened with condensed milk, were developed in Vietnam after the bean’s introduction as a way to emphasize the versatility of Robusta’s high levels of caffeination and nutty overtones. Other drinks like Cà Phê Trứng, Vietnamese egg coffee, and Cà Phê Sữa Chua, Vietnamese yogurt coffee, followed suit, highlighting the bean’s unique flavor profile
Today, Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of Robusta coffee beans, accounting for over 40 percent of the total global production of the bean. While the beans have historically had a bad reputation in the West, the recent introduction of Vietnamese coffee culture in the United States has offered seasoned and amateur coffee drinkers alike the opportunity to expand their horizons and discover a new favorite variety of coffee.
To taste what makes Vietnamese Robusta beans so unique, check out Omni Bev’s Highland Premium Robusta Vietnamese Roasted Coffee. A love letter to Vietnam’s long-standing relationship with the bean, Omni Bev’s Robusta beans maintain a medium dark roast with a smooth and bold profile featuring notes of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel. Omni Bev’s Robusta beans are perfect for brewing traditional Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk, or for making your favorite coffee beverages.