Bourbon coffee is a sub-species of the varietal Coffee Arabica or Arabica. This means that this variety of coffee beans is known for its premium quality and flavors. This coffee is a sibling to other gourmet coffees such as Arabica Typica and Arabica Heirloom. In addition, this is also broken down into sub-sub-species like Caturra, Acaia, Jackson, and Laurina.
Meanwhile, farmers have also developed hybrids of the Arabica Bourbon coffee to ensure they are ideal for growing in certain locations and under specific climatic conditions. The different cultivars will surely share some common characteristics being the same kind of varietal. However, the flavor is also ultimately determined by elevation, soil, and growing practices. And as a consumer, these things are something to consider when buying coffee beans.
History of the Bourbon Coffee
The history of this Bourbon coffee brings us back to the early 1700s. The descendant of the coffee plant actually originated in Yemen. This plant was brought by the French missionaries to Réunion (formerly Île Bourbon), where it slightly mutated and developed to what type we have today. After more than 100 years in the 1800s, the same priests introduced the coffee to Latin America and mainland Africa.
Today, Bourbon coffee is famous around the globe. They are commonly grown in Burundi, Rwanda, and many South American countries. Brazil, Costa Rica, and Colombia have similar climatic conditions as Rèunion Island, making them ideal for growing Bourbon coffee. Moreover, these coffee subspecies are also produced in Asia Pacific islands such as Sumatra and Papua New Guinea.
Bourbon Varieties: Red, Yellow, and Orange
When we speak of the color of Bourbon coffee, it actually pertains to the distinctive color of the berries when they're ready for harvest. Most ripened coffee berries are red in color. However, Bourbon coffee varieties are sometimes yellow and orange when they're ready for harvest
The original Bourbon coffee was of the Red variety. These were the same as what the French missionaries introduced to the rest of the world. In terms of flavor, the Red Bourbon coffee variety possesses the flavor traits that are sweet and buttery, with deep chocolate flavors and fruity undertones.
The Yellow Bourbon coffee beans are a popular cultivar primarily found in Brazil. This coffee is a cross between the Red Bourbon and the Yellow Botucatu from Brazil. This coffee is known to have flavor notes reminiscent of peach, raspberry, and papaya. However, when the Arabica Yellow Bourbon coffee undergoes pulped natural processing, the taste leans towards mango.
Finally, the Orange Bourbon coffee is a naturally mutated red Bourbon first developed in El Salvador. Orange Bourbon is a natural mutation of the Red Bourbon coffee tree. The coffee cherry becomes orange-colored instead of red and brown spots when ripe. A cup of Orange Bourbon coffee usually has similar characteristics as Red Bourbon coffee beans. Still, it tends to be a little more citric and fruity.
Considerations In Farming And Processing
Just like most coffee varieties, shade growing is the best option for Bourbon coffee. With this method, diseases are prevented, and quality is enhanced. At the same time, it also maintains lower and stable temperatures. It fixes the nitrogen component found in soil, thus reducing the need for other fertilizers. Bird droppings and leaf and foliage from trees serve as the coffee's natural fertilizers.
In terms of the processing, Bourbon coffee usually undergoes fermentation or the washed method. However, naturally processed Bourbon coffees are also really popular in the market. Each of these processing procedures highlights distinctive characteristics and qualities.
Roasting And Serving Bourbon Coffee
The Bourbon coffee variety is very dense. Its glucose content is quite high and chemical composition complex. With these points taken into consideration, the roaster should be able to manage and control the roasting temperatures to develop the desired results. Roasting the coffee in small batches at higher temperature levels for shorter periods is recommended, especially for denser coffee beans.
When serving Bourbon coffees using different brewing methods, baristas should know that different flavors and qualities are extracted as well. Bourbon is best experienced with a French Press or Chemex as these types of brewers retain the coffee's sweetness and complexity easily perceived as these also yield cleaner mouthfeels.
Bourbon coffee is probably the most popular coffee subspecies today. It has this tremendous potential to create a great cup. With the extra time and attentiveness farmers put in to grow and produce this coffee, we are bound to experience the beautiful result of their hard work–a taste that's been loved by many people for many centuries!