Perhaps the general public is not entirely familiar with it. Still, there are many varieties of coffee, beyond the traditional coffee plant (technically called the Typica variety), which is considered the pioneer of them all and has its origins in Ethiopia.
One of these varieties is Bourbon coffee, a bean that is highly appreciated by experts but difficult to find because it is rarely produced. In these lines, we are going to summarise what Bourbon coffee is, what characteristics it has and why it is so peculiar.
This has nothing to do with the Bourbon coffee recipe, which is a kind of cocktail with coffee and Bourbon liqueur. We are talking about Bourbon coffee, which is something else.
What is Bourbon coffee and where is it found?
Bourbon coffee is actually a mutation of the original arabica coffee (from Ethiopia). This is why it is often referred to as Bourbon arabica coffee. It is a type of Arabica bean that happens to be one of the earliest known varieties in the industry, which is why it is so widespread.
To find out where and how to grow Bourbon coffee, we must go to tropical climates, especially Brazil but also in the African countries of Rwanda and Burundi. However, the origin of it all lies in what is now the island of Réunion… which in the 19th century was called Bourbon Island. It was at the end of this century that red Bourbon (or Bourbon Vermelho) began to be exported to Brazil and from there to the rest of the world.
The three types of Bourbon coffee
The characteristics of Bourbon coffee are closely linked to the type of Bourbon coffee we are talking about. Still, the common denominator is its sweet taste, its low acidity and the notes of vanilla, caramel and chocolate that it leaves after tasting.
Bourbon coffee plants or trees tend to be somewhat leafier (they have more branches) and with fatter, less flexible trunks than normal varieties. There are three basic varieties of Bourbon coffee beans: red, yellow and pink. But all three do not coexist on the same plant. In other words, a Bourbon coffee tree will produce only red beans, or only yellow beans, or only pink beans. Let’s get to know these three types below:
Red Bourbon coffee: Characteristics
Red Bourbon coffee is the most common and pioneer of all Bourbons. It takes its name from the colour of the fruit (reddish) and has aromas of vanilla, caramel and even some chocolate. Its taste is intense, with high acidity, and it is usually a medium-density coffee.
Yellow Bourbon Coffee: Characteristics
Or Bourbon Amarelo coffee, as it is known in Brazil, the country where almost all the world’s production is concentrated. Like red, it takes its name from the colour of the fruit that contains the beans. It is a type of coffee that is not very profitable, which is why throughout history, the yellow Bourbon coffee crops have been replaced by others with higher yields. It practically only survives in Brazil, as we have said.
Its main characteristics are low acidity and especially a very low amount of fructose, something that differentiates it notably from other types of Arabica beans and even from the rest of the Bourbon type.
Pink Bourbon coffee: the “hybrid” version
We leave for last the pink Bourbon coffee, whose fruits have a very bright pink colour and which is nothing more than an artificial combination of the two types of original Bourbon coffee beans: red and yellow. It isn’t easy to grow and not easy to find… which is why it is a very expensive coffee.
We should also mention, at least in passing, Caturra coffee, which is just a small mutation of Bourbon (actually only one gene change, but enough to be considered different varieties).
Difference between Bourbon and Pacamara coffee
Pacamara, like Bourbon, is an Arabic variety. It is not that they are confused, but they are similar varieties because they are closely related to each other and are often mentioned side by side.
The reason for this is that the Pacamara coffee variety is a cross between two other varieties: Maragogipe and Pacas. And the latter variety, Pacas, is a mutation of the Bourbon coffee that is the subject of this article. Therefore, the difference between Bourbon and Pacamara is simply the type of plant: the latter is a cross between two others. However, as we say, Pacamara and Bourbon share very close genetic ties.
Bourbon coffee: Approximate prices and where to buy it
This is an expensive coffee for two reasons: firstly, because it is of undeniable high quality; secondly, because of its low profitability (it is particularly resistant to disease), it is produced very little and in very localised areas, especially Brazil. And of course, from there, it all has to be exported to the rest of the world.
Nowadays, it is difficult to buy Bourbon coffee in bulk in any specialised establishment (let alone general shops or shops). You can ask at your local speciality coffee shop, but if you don’t have one nearby, the chances of finding it are very slim. You can buy Bourbon coffee on Amazon from Saula, one of the most renowned premium brands in our country. Although it should be noted that Saula’s Bourbon coffee is not 100% pure, but contains 70% Bourbon beans mixed with other normal beans.