Bourbon Coffee

Bourbon Coffee

Coffee varieties born from volcanic soil and rain

Have you tried it before – the velvety soft bourbon coffee with its fruity, sweet aromas against the background of almond and hazelnut? This wonderfully aromatic coffee variety developed in the rainiest place on earth – on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

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Moving – from hot Africa to the wettest island in the world

Bourbon coffee is one of the two main lines of Arabica coffee. Like all Arabica varieties, this coffee has its roots in Yemen. In Yemen , the first cultures were planted from wild Ethiopian coffee plants. At the beginning of the 19th century, French botanists brought arabica coffee seeds and plants to the Île Bourbon, an island in the Indian Ocean – 200 km east of Mauritius. The first attempts to cultivate coffee in the rainy climate of the island failed across the board. But the French did not give up. It was not until 10 years later that some coffee plants survived and adapted to the humid climate: the coffee cherries became rounder and shorter. The kernels shrank. Because of these changes, the branches of the plants no longer weighed that much.

The coffee plants could now firmly anchor themselves in the softened soil. Similar changes in coffee plants can also be observed when coffee is grown on light soils. In honor of the French ruling family, the new coffee variety was named “Bourbon Coffee”. Towards the end of the century, the Île Bourbon was renamed. Today it can be found on the map under the name Réunion.

Bourbon coffee – “friends” with mountain slopes and volcanoes

Bourbon coffee plants thrive on volcanic, mineral or loamy soils. Slopes with a balanced climate are ideal for coffee cultures. The best yields are achieved at altitudes between 1,100 and 2,000 m. Bourbon coffee plantings produce up to 30% higher yields than crops of other Arabica varieties. In addition to the island of Réunion , bourbon coffee is also made in Kenya , Tanzania , Brazil , El Salvador , Colombia and Costa Rica cultivated. Bourbon coffee trees are also grown on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific. In this special location, the trees are more than 120 years old. The usual lifespan of a coffee tree is around 30 to 40 years.

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Small bourbon plant profile

The leaves of the Bourbon coffee plants are larger than those of other Arabica varieties. The fresh shoots often show light green to red colored leaves. The secondary branches are at a 60 ° angle to the main shoot. Bourbon coffees grown on Réunion have red cherries. The fruits of the Brazilian bourbon varieties, on the other hand, are bright yellow. There are also various other varieties that produce orange or pink coffee cherries, for example .

Harvest and processing

Machine harvesting of Bourbon coffee is often not possible due to the slope. On the steep slopes, the coffee cherries are still picked by hand. Sometimes the harvest workers also stretch cloths under the trees and shake the fruit from the tree.
After the harvest, the coffee cherries go through a mechanical sorting and cleaning process. In regions with a dry climate – for example in southeastern Brazil – part of the pulp remains on the core during cleaning ( pulp-natural method ). The cleaned fruits are spread out on large terraces and dry naturally in the warmth of sunlight. This special drying method allows the sweetness of the pulp to be partially absorbed by the core during the drying process. This is how the typical full-bodied, sweet aromas of Bourbon coffee are created during the roasting process .

Bourbon coffee – fruity, sweet with a complex fine acidity

Bourbon coffees surprise with their wide variety of aromas : fruity citrus aromas and fine complex acids as well as the additional sweetness and a full body make these coffees a real pleasure.
The variety-specific aromas arise from the interplay of the climatic conditions, the soil quality, the location of the growing area and the type of processing. Bourbon coffee varieties impress with their wide range of flavors. The red coffee cherries, for example from the rainy climate of the island of Réunion, have very complex, balanced aromas. The yellow varieties from Brazil mature early. They have a higher total sugar concentration than other varieties: Soft, fruity-sweet aromas characterize the Brazilian varieties.
Basically, Bourbon coffees also have a very harmonious aroma profile because of their balanced acidity. Coffee drinkers who want a coffee with a natural light sweetness will love these coffees.

Roasting – the whole program

Bourbon coffee beans are available in mild, medium and strong roast. Due to the special fruity-soft aromas, the roasting process is usually carried out rather mildly. The Bourbon coffee varieties are therefore very suitable for filter coffee and French press . Depending on the degree of roasting , they can also be prepared in a fully automatic coffee machine or as an espresso in a portafilter machine .


If you have not yet tried a Bourbon coffee, a wide range of deliciously aromatic coffee varieties awaits you . The fine natural sweetness of these coffees, the gentle fruit aromas and the full-bodied taste are definitely worth trying. Whether as a Colombian espresso with a pleasant sweetness and the aromas of dark cherries or whether you try the “Bourbon Pointu” , a specialty of Réunion with little caffeine but an intense taste, Bourbon coffee flatters your taste buds. Have fun exploring!