What Is Canephora Robusta?

In this article, we explain what is canephora robusta coffee and why it is popular with coffee farmers and drinkers.

Coffee canephora, also known as robusta coffee, is a coffee species that originates in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the second most popular coffee species behind Coffea Arabica, often used in espresso blends due to its high caffeine content and robust flavor. This hardy, evergreen coffee plant grows up to twelve meters in height. When harvested and produced, the resulting coffee tastes slightly more bitter and harsh than Arabica beans.

Canephora Robusta Explained

There are two types of coffee plants: robusta and arabica. These two types contain many more plant varieties, each suited to different growing conditions and producing a distinct flavor.

Arabica beans tend to create a milder coffee blend with less bitterness, which makes it a popular choice for brewed coffee. Most Robusta coffee brands are strong with nutty notes. It is often sold in pre-ground coffee blends. One particularly popular variety of robusta is Canephora robusta. Read our guide comparing robusta to arabica.

Canephora is one of the most common coffee beans in the world. It is cultivated in countries like Ethiopia, Liberia, Tanzania and Angola. The popularity of Canephora Robusta is at least partially due to its caffeine strength and its robustness as a plant. Robusta has close to the highest naturally produced caffeine content available, packing a bigger jolt of energy into each cup. 

This variety is thought to have early roots in Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. Ethiopia also makes claims that it was part of its early growing history. However, it is Zaire where Robusta was first discovered growing in the wild. 

For new coffee lovers, coffee trees are evergreen bushes or shrubs. They can grow up to 30 feet tall but are usually pruned to maintain their height at around 8-10 feet. They have strong-smelling white flowers that bloom multiple times each year.

These flowers are pollinated by insects and the wind and then fade. They turn into small berry-like fruit and grow in a cluster. They begin as green, turn to yellow and then finally, deep red. Inside each fruit is the actual coffee bean. Learn more about where coffee beans come from.

Canephora Robusta Hits the Coffee Scene 

A close up of ripe fruit on a coffee plant.

Once the Robusta flowers produce fruit, they take time to ripen. This can take anywhere between 8-12 months. After harvest, they are dried and roasted. The roasting process adds to their rich, dark taste. Robusta plants prefer unique growing conditions.

Arabica likes a cool climate with no frost, preferring higher altitudes. It is often cultivated in the mountains. In contrast, Robusta plants are content in lower altitudes with warm, humid air. Places such as Indonesia, the west coast of Africa and Vietnam are all good places for Robusta to grow. 

Canephora Robusta hit the coffee scene noticeably in 2012 when it gained popularity as a weight loss supplement. The claim that robusta supplements assist in weight loss spread quickly and sparked a health trend.

The reported health benefits were backed up by limited studies showing that certain compounds in the green, un-roasted Robusta coffee beans help reduce carbohydrate and fat absorption. There is also some evidence that it can reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes in some individuals. 

Benefits of Robusta Coffee

Canephora Robusta beans offer several benefits. It is less prone to pests and disease than other coffee plant varieties. It contains more caffeine and less sugar.

In fact, Robusta coffee beans contain about twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. Caffeine as a supplement can improve mental alertness and cognitive performance and enhance physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues.

Promising early medical trials hint that this extract could be good in helping with weight loss. These trials are small, but the fact that the beans are full of antioxidants means that they have potential health benefits. However, the studies also show that this weight loss effect may be short-lived. It’s also important to note that these studies specifically cover the benefits of green, un-roasted robusta. As a supplement or in an espresso shot, the roasted coffee ground doesn’t have the same benefits.

Canephora Robusta in the green bean extract form may still be under the microscope for weight loss, but it is also being looked at for the benefits it has in addressing health issues such as Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, along with the reduction in the risk of certain pathologies such as cancer. Studies continue in all these areas. 

Fresh robusta green beans are loaded with antioxidants and chlorogenic acid. However, when the beans are roasted, they lose a lot of chlorogenic acid, so your latte macchiato or latte probably isn’t the next superfood.

Choosing Canephora Robusta 

Roasted coffee beans.

Canephora Robusta is a good choice for green coffee or green coffee bean extract. The plant is high in caffeine and more plentiful than Arabica as it offers a higher crop yield. It is probably one of the most well-known strains to hit the weight loss market. Many companies have chosen to use it in their products so it can be found under different brand names. 

Canephora Robusta as a supplement should always be taken after consulting with a health care professional. Each person is different and has a unique health profile, so it is important to ensure this supplement is suitable before adding it to your health care plan. Canephora has been found to cause reactions when interacting with various medications. This happens more frequently when taken at higher dosages. 

Final Thoughts on The Canephora Robusta

Canephora Robusta packs a punch for coffee fans. While it offers a great caffeine kick in the form of a drink, the green bean extract offers some health benefits as a supplement. The caffeine is lower than when the bean is roasted, and the Chlorogenic Acid is high for better health benefits. Stop in at your health food store or a place where there is a coffee specialist so you can get the Canephora Robusta in both forms and learn what benefits might be waiting for you. 


  • Cian Murray

    Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies. Find Cian on muckrack.com.