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Let's talk Robusta: Episode 2

Let's talk Robusta. This series is looking at why canephora (robusta and conilon) has been perceived as a lower quality coffee species than arabica and why this is wrong. 

An interview with our expert roaster, Nick

Recap: Robusta and conilon (subspecies of canephora) have been considered a lower quality coffee species than arabica for many years. This is a misperception due to the post-harvest production of canephoras being much further behind than arabica. More care and attention needs to be given to canephora coffee cultivation in order to develop it. 

Read our previous episode here for more detail. 

Q: What is special about the canephoras Volcano uses?

 A: Our canephoras are special because we are working directly with the IFES (Federal Institute of Espritos Santos) and The Agricultural Cooperative of Sao Gabriel Coffee Growers to build international markets for these canephoras and are the first to bring them to Europe.  

The processing of our canephoras is also very unique. Our farmers have implemented the post-harvest fermentation and drying techniques used on arabica to produce much higher quality canephora coffee, with increased complexity and sweetness that rivals many arabica coffees.

 Brazil and the researchers also doing Sombra (an agroforestry project we are funding in Brazil) have been investing a lot in innovation, research and development on post-harvest and are producing lots that are cupping very high on the arabica grading system. We are also involved with the development of the sensory scoring and flavour wheel for canephora in partnership with the coffee sensorium as there is very little context for assessing canephora quality potential and cuppers all over the world are now only really being introduced to quality canephora.

We hope that this research will change the perception of canephoras so that they can be given proper recognition within the specialty coffee world. 

 Q: Why has Volcano chosen to include canephoras in some of their coffees?

A: We believe that the future for sustainable coffee farm systems is the combination of arabica and canephora in the same farm systems to optimise returns for producers, lower costs, increase yields, protect volatility, increase genetic diversity and achieve climate resilience. 

(Diverse farming systems: conilon growing alongside pepper in the Atlantic Forest)

We believe we are obliged to embrace this innovation and demonstrate our commitment to truly sustainable agriculture. We are currently working to introduce more canephoras into our coffees to showcase the diversity within coffee.

We are excited to announce the launch of our new conlion and arabica blend, Delta Blend. Delta uses conilons from the Espritos Santos region and a speciality arabica lot from Fazenda Mio to create a wonderfully clean, dark roasted coffee. We want to celebrate the diversity of Brazil by combining these two unique coffee species into one coffee. Expect to taste a caffeine-filled richness and body from the conilon in the Delta Blend and a delicious fruity acidity from the arabica- for the perfect balance. Shop Delta Blend here. 

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