No, we’re not talking the alcoholic beverage here. The Bourbon Coffee Varietal is a sub-species of Arabica, reported to be originally planted in Reunion (then known as Bourbon).
The bourbon family of coffees can be further broken down into the following:
- Moka / Mocha / Mokka
- Pacas (El Salvador)
- Pointu Bourbon / Laurina
- SL 28
- SL 34
- Tekisik (or Tekisic)
- Villa Sarchi (Costa Rica)
Bourbon produces the best coffee at elevations that qualify as High-Grown and Strictly High Grown – generally between 1,100 meters and 2,000 meters above sea level. The trees are able to produce 20%-30% more coffee than the sibling Typica varietal, making them an attractive crop for farmers looking to maximize yields. It also means they’re great for cross-breeding, which is frequently done – when bred like this, they’re known as cultivars.
Visually, they’re most often identified by a single larger trunk, rather than many larger trunks.
Bourbon coffee beans can be found all over the world, from Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Guatema, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Seem like a lot of South American countries? Bourbon coffees spread from Bourbon (Reunion) throughout the region. El Salvador for example, is a large, well known producer of Bourbon coffees. They’re not exclusive to South American though, with the ease of trade they can be found almost anywhere in the world.
Is there a reason to specifically seek our Bourbon coffees? Not especially. While knowing what varietal of coffee you’re drinking can be useful in finding it from multiple sources, variations between elevations, farms, crop years and processing methods will vary the end taste significantly. Knowing you like a Bourbon coffee from Guatemala may be a good guide, but doesn’t guarantee that another Bourbon coffee from Guatemala will give you the same experience.