Coffee Varietals Deep Dive: Pink Bourbon
The fun of specialty coffee is the exploration of the possibilities of coffee. There are a few variables that a specialty coffee producer can try – whether it’s planting new varietals, experimenting with new drying techniques, or implementing new processing.
In the September issue of The Roasters Pack, we featured a coffee by Jose Martinez (photographed) who dove into a new varietal Pink Bourbon, which carries quite an interesting taste profile, as well as historical roots.
For this specific coffee, Sebastian Sztabzyb (Co-Owner of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters) felt the Pink Bourbon taste was like a combination of a Colombian and an Ethiopian coffee.
“It has some of these underlying Colombian qualities, like dark chocolate, which is very, very big in the South of Colombia. But then it brings in this peach and meyer lemon, and black tea component. Sometimes tamarind as well. That is very reminiscent of a classic Southern Ethiopian coffee. It tends to be thinner in body than a coffee like a Caturra from the same producer, but much more aromatic, more tropical and juicy.”
Hearing the taste description, you’d might assume the coffee is going to have similar roots like a Geisha varietal – meaning it was a recent transplant from an African country. However, the story is quite different and as a result, the name Pink Bourbon doesn’t automatically mean the cup will have a certain profile.
“Pink Bourbon is a hybrid and there is definitely Bourbon in it, but there's also definitely some of the Colombia variety, which is derived from a hybrid of Catimor, Caturra, and other varietals.”
With Pink Bourbon having it’s roots tied to the varietal Catimor – a varietal that was created by integrating Robusta - a coffee species known for a lower quality taste, but a more resilient plant, it’s quite surprising to hear the Ethiopian-like profile described by Sztabzyb.
“I've tasted a lot of Pink Bourbon and some of it really doesn't taste very good from other producers.”
“My take is that there are multiple strains of Pink Bourbon, and some of them have more of a Catimor dominant gene, I'm guessing, and those tend to not cup as well. And then there are the Pink Bourbons that I tend to gravitate to that are a lot more floral and exotic. There's lots of strains out there. The farmers we're working with thankfully, I've been blessed with some good strains.”