Robusta coffee, known for its strong flavor and high caffeine content, stands distinctly apart from the more widely consumed Arabica coffee beans. In the United States, where Arabica coffee dominates the market, finding authentic Robusta coffee is pretty challenging.
So where can you find robusta coffee in the United States?
Despite its relative rarity, Robusta coffee can be found in Vietnamese coffee shops across the United States. These establishments, known for their authentic cultural offerings, serve as the primary havens for Robusta coffee lovers, providing a unique experience far removed from the usual Arabica-dominated cafés.
We’ll guide you through the nuances of Robusta coffee, its origins, and the reasons behind its limited presence in the U.S. market. We'll also share insights on what makes Vietnamese coffee shops the go-to places for experiencing the bold and distinctive taste of Robusta.
Related: Curious about how espresso is affecting your health? Check out our guide: Is Espresso Good for You?
Where to Find Robusta Coffee Beans in the U.S.
Finding Robusta coffee beans in the U.S. can be difficult as 99% of the coffee we drink here is made with Arabica beans. However, we do know some locations and online options where you can find high-quality Robusta beans.
Where to Buy Robusta in Person (Coffee Shops and Roasters)
- New York: Nguyen Coffee Supply is one of the most popular spots in the U.S. to get specialty Vietnamese (robusta) coffee beans in New York.
- Chicago, Illinois: 4 Letter Word Coffee in Chicago is currently selling a robusta blend in-store and online. Check it out here. (This coffee shop is 5 mins from where I live!)
- Orange County, California: Southern California has the most densely populated Vietnamese population anywhere in the world (other than Vietnam of course) and has several coffee shops that offer a genuine taste of Vietnamese robusta coffee. Little Saigon Area of Orange County specifically. Nam Coffee is a popular one.
- Portland, Oregon: Here you'll find Cà Phê, along with Pagi Coffee and Kopi Coffee House, serving robusta blends.
- Orlando, Florida: Home to Lineage Craft Coffee Roasters, Deeply Cafe and Bottle Shop, and Framework Craft Coffee House. These 3 coffee shops offer robusta bean coffee.
- Austin, Texas: Greater Goods Coffee Co in Austin offers a few robusta-made drinks.
Where to Buy Robusta Coffee Online
Len's Coffee: This online store specializes in a variety of coffee types, including robusta. You can explore their collection at Len's Coffee.
Amazon: It's often the best bet for a wide range of robusta options. Some of the highest-rated robusta coffee beans on Amazon include:
Nguyen Coffee Supply – Truegrit Peaberry Robusta
This medium roast from Vietnam, now roasted in Brooklyn, NY, really knows how to wake you up. It's got nearly double the caffeine of regular beans and is rich in antioxidants too.
For the flavor, think scotch, grapefruit zest, and a hint of bitter melon. There are no additives or oils, just a robust, full-bodied flavor. And if you're into sustainability and ethical sourcing, you'll love this: they work directly with Mr. Ton, a 4th generation Vietnamese farmer.
This is a great option for grinding at home, whether you're brewing espresso or using a Phin filter.
Robarica Robusta Coffee Beans
This is a great choice for those with a preference for low-acid, natural espresso or traditional Vietnamese drip coffee. These whole beans are free from artificial ingredients, ensuring a pure, tasty drink that’s easy on your stomach.
Rich, strong, and full-bodied, they capture the essence of Vietnamese coffee, offering a versatile brewing experience suitable for both slow drip in a Phin filter and quick preparation in espresso machines.
Birdee Vietnamese Coffee Bean
Birdee Coffee 100% Vietnamese coffee beans is a medium roast that strikes a perfect balance, offering a full-bodied taste with a smooth finish. It blends the robust punch of caffeine from robusta with the sweet, chocolatey notes of arabica for a great flavor profile.
Nguyen Coffee Supply – Hanoi Peaberry Robusta
This Hanoi dark roast is very strong. This coffee is made exclusively from 100% Robusta beans, known for their natural boldness. The roast profile of this Hanoi blend enhances the flavor profiles of the Robusta bean, offering a classic and richly flavored brew. Requiring fewer resources to grow, these beans contain 60% less sugar and fats compared to Arabica beans, resulting in a coffee that delivers a strong, impactful experience.
You can Order directly from Nguyen Coffee Supply online here.
Have you ever wondered how many calories are in a K-cup or how to make hot chocolate in a Keurig? Maybe you’re looking for Keurig espresso pods to pair with your Robusta coffee. We have all the answers you need in our guides.
What is Robusta Coffee
I started this article by getting to the meat of the question: Where to Find robsusta Coffee in the United States?
Now we'll go into the details. Firstly, you may have never heard of robusta coffee before, and you’re not alone. Although it’s popular around the world, it hasn’t caught on in the mainstream in the United States yet.
Above I included a really interesting video on Amazonian robusta from James Hoffman's channel. This roaster flies to the Amazon and learns about how the producers there are working to make higher quality robusta.
The basics of robusta coffee include:
- Origin: Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora) primarily comes from the African continent, especially from countries in Central and Western Africa. It's also grown in some parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. Robusta originated in sub-Saharan Africa and was first discovered in the Congo.
- Roasting: Robusta beans are often used in espresso blends due to their strong flavor and ability to produce a better crema (the creamy layer on top of an espresso). When roasting, Robusta beans typically develop a darker, richer color than Arabica beans, with a roast profile that can range from medium to very dark.
- Caffeine: Robusta coffee has a higher caffeine content compared to Arabica, almost double in some cases. This high caffeine content contributes to its strong, bitter flavor. The increased caffeine also makes the plant more resilient to pests and diseases.
- Flavor: The flavor of Robusta is often described as bold and robust (hence the name), with a somewhat bitter and earthy taste. It lacks the fruitiness and sweetness of Arabica beans and may have woody or nutty undertones. Some high-quality Robusta can have smooth, chocolatey characteristics as well.
Difference Between Robusta and Arabica
There are a few key differences between Robusta and Arabica coffee:
- Plant Characteristics: Arabica (Coffea arabica) plants are typically grown at higher altitudes, require more care, and are more sensitive to pests compared to the hardier robusta plants. Arabica plants also have a longer maturation period.
- Flavor Profile: Arabica is generally considered to have a smoother, sweeter taste with flavor notes of chocolate, nuts, and fruits, and a higher acidity. In contrast, robusta has a stronger, harsher, and more bitter taste.
- Caffeine Content: As mentioned, robusta beans have almost double the caffeine content of arabica beans. This not only makes the coffee stronger but also provides the plant with natural pest resistance.
- Bean Shape and Size: Arabica beans are larger and have an oval shape with a more pronounced center crease, while robusta beans are smaller, rounder, and have a straighter crease.
- Blend Usage: Arabica is often used in premium, single-origin coffees, and high-quality blends due to its nuanced flavors. Robusta is commonly used in espresso blends for its crema and full-bodied taste, and in instant coffee due to its lower cost and strong flavor.
Whether you buy robusta, arabica, or a blend, knowing how to store it will keep it tasting its best for longer, and this guide tells you everything you need to know about storing coffee long-term.
Why It's Hard to Find Robusta Coffee in the U.S.
In the U.S., Robusta coffee is less common due to a combination of cultural and taste preferences. Originating from Vietnam, where it's a key part of the coffee culture, Robusta hasn't gained the same foothold in the American market, which strongly favors arabica.
Robusta's U.S. presence is limited by marketing bias and taste preference. American coffee drinkers generally prefer sweeter, creamier blends (I know I do), contrasting sharply with robusta's strong, bitter profile. Robusta is also portrayed as inferior to arabica in American marketing campaigns (i.e. Starbucks touting its “100% Arabica coffee” as if robusta would make it less quality).
This article was written by Sara. You can learn more about Sara on our About the Team page.