The Ultimate Coffee Glossary


What is the Bourbon coffee varietal?

Bourbon is a Coffea Arabica cultivar that was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon, now Reunion, in the Indian Ocean near Africa. It is one of the main Arabica cultivars, along with Typica. The seeds were sold to the French by the British East India Company from Aden, Yemen, and were planted in 1708. After generations, it began to express unique characteristics and became more robust.
Bourbon has slightly higher yields and is more robust than Typica in general. It has a broader leaf and rounder cherry (and green bean) than Typica, a conical tree form, and erect branches. It has many local variants and sub-types, including Tekisic, Jackson, Arusha, and the Kenya SL types.
In terms of growing conditions, Bourbon grows best at altitudes between 1100 - 2000 MASL. It is susceptible to major coffee diseases and the cherry ripens quickly, but is at risk from wind and hard rain. Bourbon coffees should have green tips (new leaves) whereas Typicas should have bronze-to-copper tips.
Bourbon is known for its excellent cup character. It is a popular cultivar for specialty coffee production and is widely grown in Central and South America, Africa, and Indonesia. It is also used in many blends, as it is known for its balanced and sweet cup profile.
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