Ilmer Gomez is a 36-year-old second generation coffee producer that is doing things right. He grows Pink Bourbon, Caturra, and Colombia on his five-hectare farm – called “El Tesoro”. El Tesoro sits at an enviable 1800m elevation in the municipality of San Agustin in the south of Huila, Colombia. This lot is 100% Pink Bourbon.
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an Agustin will always have a special place in my heart. My very first trip to Colombia in 2010 took me to San Agustin, which is near other areas where we buy coffee: places like Bruselas, Palestina, and Pitalito. I have always been super fond of coffees from San Agustin because the profile of these coffees is rich, fruity, and jammy – coffees I tend to love. We bought a few coffees from San Agustin producers for many years. Over the past few years, however, we have been working with farmers in different regions for several reasons. This makes our new partnership with Ilmer all that much more exciting.
Pink Bourbon is quickly becoming the gold standard of Colombia. When I first started buying in Colombia, almost 13 years ago, the only two coffee varieties I would come across were Colombia (F6) and Caturra. Since then, another important hybrid “Castillo” was developed by Cenicafé (Colombia National Coffee Investigation Centre). Castillo has been planted throughout Colombia more than any other variety and the results, at least from a quality perspective, have been mixed. In my own personal experiences, Castillo tends to bring out more of the herbaceous notes of Catimor, which is not exactly what I am looking for in a tasty coffee. The good news is that, while most producers planted Castillo, many also planted other varieties in search for better cup quality. One of these varieties is Pink Bourbon.
Pink Bourbon is a hybrid between Yellow and Red Bourbon. In my experiences with the plant and in speaking with farmers who grow it, it doesn’t behave like a traditional Bourbon in that it is hardier and more resistant to disease. The coffee bean also doesn’t look like a Bourbon, but more like a Typica or Geisha. The tree looks like a cross between the Colombia variety and a Typica.
In the cup, my experiences with this variety have been awesome – tending to a more exotic cup profile that stands out from the more traditional Colombian varieties and resembles traits of Geishas, Ethiopian, and Kenyan coffees.
The processing of this coffee is a two-step fermentation. First, the coffee is fermented in cherry for 12-14 hours, then it is de-pulped and fermented again in traditional tanks for another 22-26 hours. The coffee is then fully washed and dried slowly in raised patios. Shortly, I will be in Colombia for the first time since before Covid and I can’t wait to meet Ilmer!