A BRIEF HISTORY OF BOURBON
When a description of the widely produced coffee varietal Bourbon begins with “It’s a tall variety characterized by relatively low production, susceptibility to the major diseases (of leaf rust, berry disease and nematodes)…”, you begin to think “why?”
Why would a farmer, who could potentially make a safer and steadier income by producing robusta for the commodity market, or a less safe but more lucrative income by producing poppies, or mining for shiny things?
Because – that description of Bourbon finishes with “…and excellent cup quality”. And our specialty coffee producers are a specialty type of people who strive for excellence in their chosen field (both of expertise and farm), and pursue this, often with great risk and sacrifice, because they know that good coffee can change the world.
So, with the goal of coffee greatness in mind, farms in Burundi, Rwanda, Central America and others, cleared space to grow this sweet and delicate coffee bean.
The Bourbon journey intertwines with many things we’ve spoken about over the years. Starting from Ethiopia and moving to Yemen, from Yemen to the Mysore region of Malabar (by way of Brother Baba Budan’s beard?), and also to the French colonised Bourbon Island. And as the French had also colonised many a country in Africa, it was introduced pretty quickly to regions in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Kenya. And once again, it becomes apparent a delightful part of our lives, a delicious moment we hold dear, is entangled with a history of occupation, subterfuge, usurping and abuse of power.
But wow doesn’t it taste good!
As mentioned, it’s known for its high quality, and this has been a prime candidate, a stud if you will, for being developed, innovated, varietalled and propagated into red, yellow, orange bourbons, Caturra, Catuai, and Mundo Novo. It’s been busy.
Bourbon has a lot of love to give, both intrinsic in its DNA, and that which has been imbued to it through the dedication and passion of those who advocate for quality over commodity, and who believe that love makes the world go round. We raise our cups to you.