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All you need to know about Bourbon Coffee

Bourbon coffee is the Arabica variety most prized by connoisseurs. Bourbon is particularly appreciated for its excellent cup quality and the sensory experience it provides. However, its relatively low production per coffee plant and its susceptibility to disease make it a rare commodity. Find out all you need to know about bourbon coffee.

In this Coffee Spirit by MaxiCoffee, you can find two types of articles: those dealing with coffee species and varieties (Learn all about Arabica coffee, Learn all about Bourbon coffee, etc.) and those dealing with coffee-producing countries (Learn all about Costa Rican coffee, etc.).

It should be noted that each producing country grows certain species and varieties of coffee.

Where does bourbon coffee come from?

coffee beans roasted

The origin of Bourbon coffee is uncertain, due to numerous genetic mutations and cross-breeding since its discovery. 

However, according to World Coffee Research, the first Bourbon coffee appeared in the early 1700s, imported by French missionaries to the Bourbon Islands (now Reunion Island), to which its name refers. 

This Arabica variety then spread to Brazil in the mid-19ᵉ century, and then to South and Central America, crossing with other bourbon varieties from India and Ethiopia

Many varieties of bourbon can now be found in East Africa, but none exactly match the variety found in Latin America. However, bourbon is still grown in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru.

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Bourbon coffee played a crucial role in the development of the Central American coffee economy, particularly in El Salvador and Costa Rica.

coffee beans

Where does bourbon coffee grow? 

Bourbon coffee belongs to the Typica Bourbon group, a rather large coffee tree producing small, fleshy cherries. Its large leaves have wavy edges and more secondary branches than other coffee trees. 

However, despite its size, a bourbon coffee tree produces few cherries, as it is fairly susceptible to pests and diseases such as rust. 

Italian coffee beans

In addition, this variety requires specific production conditions

  • a warm, humid climate
  • nutrient-rich soil 
  • an altitude of between 1100 m and 2000 m. 

What varieties of bourbon coffee are there?

#1

Red bourbon

It is grown in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. Offering a delicious balance of fruity and floral notes, this variety is the most popular in the world of coffee and owes its name to the red colour of its ripe beans.

#2

Yellow bourbon 

This is a mutation of the red bourbon discovered in Brazil and still mainly grown there. This variety has subtle aromatic nuances and is distinguished by its yellow beans when ripe. Its aromas can vary from fruity to floral to spicy, depending on the growing and processing conditions.

#3

Pink bourbon

This variety is a rare hybrid of red and yellow bourbon from Colombia. Despite its low production, pink bourbon offers exceptional fruity aromas.

#4

Bourbon pointu

Bourbon pointu, endemic to Réunion, has mild acidity, a rich body and a complex aromatic palette. This renowned variety is gaining worldwide recognition for its exceptional quality.

#5

Bourbon tabi

This variety originated in Colombia. It is a cross between the bourbon, typica and timor varieties. Bourbon Tabi is prized for its astonishing resistance to rust and its aromatic quality.

#6

Tekisic bourbon

This variety is susceptible to disease, but makes a significant contribution to coffee production in El Salvador and Guatemala.

What does Bourbon Coffee taste like?

coffee

Bourbon coffee is appreciated for its pleasant acidity, buttery aroma and sweetness in the cup, giving it perfect balance

It often has floral, chocolate and spicy notes, although its aromatic profile can vary depending on the region in which it is grown. For example, bourbons from El Salvador offer more gourmet notes such as caramel, while Rwandan bourbons offer fruitier notes

The place of bourbon coffee in the world of coffee 

Bourbon’s worldwide reputation among the most demanding coffee lovers is the result of its exceptional quality and distinctive aromatic profile. These characteristics make it a preferred choice for connoisseurs in search of a memorable coffee experience

Bourbon coffees produced in certain regions, such as Brazil, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Rwanda, are considered to be the best bourbon coffees in the world. Their unique flavours attract coffee lovers from all over the world, contributing to the international reputation of this prized variety

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How much does Bourbon Coffee cost?

 Because of its reputation, bourbon coffees come in a wide range of prices, which can vary depending on a number of factors, including the quality of the coffee plant, the origin of production, the drying process and the coffee market. However, the average price is between €18 and €20 per kilo of coffee beans. 

The most expensive bourbon coffee sold in the world was the geisha coffee of the bourbon variety, which was auctioned for a record price of $1,029 per pound (around $2,269 per kg) at the Best of Panama competition in 2019. This exceptional coffee was produced by the Elida Estate farm in Panama and set a new record for the price of coffee.

Bourbon coffee is the reference variety in the world of coffee, embodying excellence and sophistication. With its rich aromas, fascinating history and global prestige, this variety continues to ignite the passion of the most demanding coffee lovers. Whether enjoyed as an espresso, filtered or as an alternative method, bourbon offers an unforgettable caffeine experience, each sip an invitation to sensory wonder.

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