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380. Overheard at Let’s Talk Robusta 2013

Let’s Talk Robusta 2013 was by all accounts bigger and better than its predecessor.  Here are 10 of the most memorable quotes from the event.


You can’t just ask any importer for a Robusta.  You have to be discreet.

John DiRuocco
Mr. Espresso

Robusta has been a perfect sensory bogeyman for Arabica.

Ken Davids
The Coffee Review


Robusta is cheap and poorly prepared because it is expected to be cheap and poorly prepared.

Large specialty coffee companies simply cannot afford to take a risk on offering even the best Robustas.  They would be doomed to by the same 100% Arabica myth they helped create.

Ken Davids


Our café may sell 6 or 7 filtered coffees a day and 600 to 700 espressos.

We have five espresso blends.  Our customers cup them all and choose the one they want.  Four are 100 percent Arabica, but more than half our customers choose the one that is 20 percent Robusta.

Craig Dickson
Veneziano Coffee Roasters




You want to produce a fine Robusta?  Treat it like a fine Arabica.

Craig Dickson

Robusta genetics will help bring Arabica through climate change.

Manuel Díaz


Someday soon there won’t be enough fine Arabica to meet demand.  Better to start experimenting now.

Stephen Vick
Blue Bottle


We don’t know Robusta.

Ken Davids

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CRS has collaborated with Sustainable Harvest over the past two years to create an annual workshop series on fine Robusta offered during the yearly Let’s Talk Coffee event.  The result, Let’s Talk Robusta, has generated plenty of buzz and lots of enlightenment through its first two years.  The coffee scribes at Sprudge provided excellent coverage of the 2012 event in Colombia, which brought together some of the biggest names in Robusta to introduce the specialty community to “the other coffee” through lectures and a fine Robusta cupping.  The 2013 edition of Let’s Talk Robusta in El Salvador was bigger and better than its predecessor, from with the provocative opening statements of The Coffee Review co-founder and specialty coffee pioneer Kenneth Davids all the way through to the fine Robusta tasting that closed the event.

– – – – –

This is the fourth and final post in a series on Let’s Talk Robusta 2013, the second annual series of workshops sponsored by the CRS Borderlands project during Sustainable Harvest’s annual Let’s Talk Coffee event.

<< 379.  Just how big is the market for fine Robusta?



  • Joel says:

    I think a great place to start would be at all of the shops serving “Vietnamese style coffee”. They all use 100% Arabica coffee, and say that it’s genuine Vietnamese style. If we can provide these shops with authentic Vietnamese Robusta Coffee, the quality and popularity of their drinks may increase as well.

  • P Baker says:

    Thanks for these posts on Robusta; interesting that nobody has commented on them!

    Robusta is now nearly 40% of world coffee and that’s going to keep rising.

    You quoted too that 40% of Arabicas have some Robusta genes in them – i.e. 40% are catimors. Sounds a bit high to me, but again that figure will keep rising I think.

    And of course, the father of all Arabicas is Robusta (the mother in C. eugenoides) so in a sense Robusta is in all Arabicas.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction to synthetic or neo-Arabicas (new Robusta/eugenoides crosses being tried) – maybe if they taste good, the Robusta phobia will start to disappear.

    I hope you can keep us posted on the Robusta plans in Colombia, do you think they will go ahead?

    Happy 2014.

    • Michael Sheridan says:


      Thanks for filling the void in the comment field.

      Ric Rhinehart felt compelled to submit a comment to Daily Coffee News, which has re-posted content from our coverage of Let’s Talk Robusta, that makes the same observation you do on the common lineage of Arabica and Robusta in coffee eugenoides: ALL Arabicas are Robustas.

      As for Colombia, I was surprised to hear the comments on Robusta from Juan José Echavarría, who heads the commission reviewing Colombia’s coffee policies and institutions. We are, like everyone working in coffee in Colombia, awaiting the release of the commission’s report next month. And we will continue to follow with great interest the evolving discussion of Robusta in Colombia, and will be happy to report out on what we are hearing and seeing, but we have no plans to engage with that process programatically.


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