To appreciate the Pink Bourbon, and all it has to offer, first I need to talk about varietals in general and specifically the Bourbon varietal. In case you don’t know what a varietal is, foundationally, it’s the coffee plant. Each coffee plant has a different genetic makeup due to the generations of development and surroundings. A good way to think about it is, to think of apples. All apple trees produce apples but depending on the “varietal” of apples, you’ll get a different kind of apple, each with its unique characteristics like sweetness, acidity, and even color. Depending on the varietal grown there will be differences among the apples. Coffee works the same way. You’ll get a different variety of coffee depending on the seed varietal.
A Little More About Varietals
Here’s a summary of different varietals. Understanding varietals is foundational to appreciating all the nuances of coffee if you’re into that sort of thing.
Typica: This variety is considered the foundation of pretty much all other varieties. Nearly all varieties genetically trace back to this one. I’m guessing that’s why it’s called Typica. The flavor notes are generally smooth and sweet.
Bourbon: This variety is very widely grown and is one of the more common varieties we have available in our online shop. Its sweetness and complexity make it a very easily accessible variety. There have been times where it’s been known to be susceptible to disease but it has a high yield and is a tried and true varietal.
Caturra: A mutation of Bourbon. The flavor profile tends to lean towards a more acidic cup.
Geisha: This is the top-tier royalty of the coffee varieties. This variety has broken records in auction prices in coffee competitions, topping at EIGHT-HUNDRED AND THREE dollars per unroasted pound. $803/lb. Yep, not a typo; this coffee variety costs a lot. We don’t offer this one as often, but when we can we get pretty excited about it.
The Bourbon Varietal
Today we’ll be focusing on the Bourbon varietal. To really appreciate where the Pink Bourbon comes from, understanding its “parent varietal” is important. I love reading about how we got coffee from a historical perspective, so here’s a little history that I found to be very interesting. Seeds of the Bourbon varietal were first sold to the French by the British East India Company and were first planted on the island of Bourbon now known as Reunion Island around the year 1708. The French first occupied the island in 1632. It would be claimed by the British at one point, but then was given back to the French. It’s located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. The Bourbon varietal produces higher yields than other varietals and an excellent cup of coffee. It has some amazing quality. There is a disadvantage though. Its cherry ripens quickly making it susceptible to disease. So while it provides a great cup of coffee, keeping it healthy for a longer period of time requires special attention and a lot more care from the farmer. So, even though it’s a high-yielding varietal, at times it can be difficult to farm.
Pink Bourbon, Where Did it Come From?
Either the Pink Bourbon is somewhat obscure, historical accounts have been lost, or I need to up my researching game. I searched and searched for how the Pink Bourbon got to South America. I couldn’t even find out if it was developed in South America or while it was still on Reunion Island close to Madagascar. Just like other coffee varietals, they made their way to South and Central America for which we will just be thankful it made the trek there.
The Pink Bourbon would get its start in South America in Brazil. It’s a cross between Typica and Bourbon called Mundo Novo. Mundo Novo is a commercial coffee cultivar that is believed to be a natural hybrid between “Sumatra” and Red Bourbon. This blend produces a pink cherry rather than a bright red one. That’s how it gets its name “Pink Bourbon”. My next question after finding that it got its start in Brazil was, how did it get to Huila Colombia which is a very popular region now for growing Pink Bourbon. Most of the stories I read mentioned how farmers got their seed from another farmer who got their seed from another farmer and so on. I thought I reached one of the first story of how a farmer got seed but then he just said the Pink Bourbon trees had been there for a while. It’s almost like no one knows who the first farmer was because they all claimed that the farmer they got their seed from was the original farmer. So, we’ll just be thankful for the Pink Bourbon bean regardless of how it got to Huila Colombia.
Advantages of the Pink Bourbon Varietal
As I stated earlier, the Bourbon bean is very susceptible to disease because the cherry matures so quickly. But, what is interesting about the Pink Bourbon is that as a hybrid, its stronger and sturdier than traditional Bourbon. It helps to solve the problem of early maturation and helps with producing high and healthy yields. You have to be careful with it though. The quality of the coffee can vary and lower quality is possible. But there are times when the coffee it produces is exceptional. That’s why we are so excited to share this coffee with you. Taste our newest Pink Bourbon Honey Limited Edition Black Label. When we tasted this coffee for the first time, we were blown away by the sugary mouthfeel and full body. The taste of juicy blackberry adds the perfect brightness and pairs beautifully with the rich notes of chocolate you get at the finish. We made this coffee a Black Label because it embodies everything unique to the country: complexity and boldness in a smooth cup. But we have some bad news. We only have 70 pounds. We're guessing it will last more than a week or two, but not a lot more, so grab a bag while you can.