I’ve always been a big fan of coffees from Palestina. Since the advent of Juan Valdez and the Colombian marketing machine in the 1980’s, most of Colombia’s coffee producers have replanted their farms with highly productive and hearty coffee varieties. They grow these varieties in high density, removing nearly all the shade from their farms, and they use agrochemicals more frequently. In contrast, the small region of Palestina, situated in the southern part of the department of Huila, still maintains some of the coffee varieties and shade trees that gave Colombia its original coffee fame.
It seems like Pink Bourbon is quickly becoming the gold standard of Colombia. When I first started buying in Colombia, almost 12 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.
While there doesn’t seem to be a lot of legitimate literature on Pink Bourbon, it appears to be 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. I’ve been asking for more clarity from those who study varieties and I have yet to get a clear answer on the lineage of Pink Bourbon.
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.
One of the cool aspects of Juan’s production is his fermentation. Due to the cooler conditions in his farm, he needs to ferment 36-40 hours and, in my experience, this almost always leads to better flavours in the cup. Another element about Juan that is unique is that he is very detail oriented and cares deeply about doing things ‘right’, so things like cleanliness and hygiene in and around the farm is very high – this attention to detail is rare!
This coffee showed a ton of sweetness, creamy mouthfeel, balanced acidity, and great fruity flavours on the cupping table.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.