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Bourbon

Buttery flavor, Nuttiness, and Smooth Consistency. It is Low in Acidity and Medium-Bodied.

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Records show that the French attempted to introduce this coffee from Yemen to Bourbon Island (now La Réunion) three times, in 1708, 1715 and 1718; recent genetic studies have confirmed this. Only a small number of plants from the second introduction and some from the third introduction were successful. Until the mid-19th century, Bourbon coffee did not leave the island.

French missionaries known as Spiritans played a major role in the dissemination of Bourbon in Africa. In 1841, the first mission was established in La Reunion. From there, a mission was established in Zanzibar in 1859. From Zanzibar, one mission was established in 1862 in Bagamoyo (coastal Tanzania, called Tanganyika at that time), another at St. Augustine (Kikuyu, Kenya), and another one in 1893 in Bura (Taita Hills, Kenya). In each of the missions, coffee seeds originating from La Réunion were planted.

The St. Augustine seedlings were used to plant large swaths of the Kenyan highlands, while the Bagamoyo seedlings were used to establish several plantations in the Kilimanjaro region on Tanzanian side. As soon as 1930, a Tanzanian research station at Lyamungo near Moshi began a formal coffee breeding program based on “mass selection” of outstanding mother trees found in the neighboring plantations planted with Bagamoyo seeds. (Mass selection is also called massal selection and means that a group of individuals are selected based on their superior performance, seed from these plants is bulked to form a new generation, and then the process is repeated). This research station is the ancestor of today’s Tanzanian Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) main research station.

The seedlings from Bura were brought to another French Mission in Saint Austin (near Nairobi) in 1899, and from there seeds were distributed to settlers willing to grow coffee. These introductions are the origin of what became known as “French Mission` coffee.

Recent DNA fingerprinting has shown that old Indian varieties known as Coorg and Kent are related to the bourbon-descended varieties. This indicates that in 1670, the first seeds sent out of Yemen to India by Baba Budan likely included both the Bourbon and Typica groups (see also Typica below). This may mean the Typica branch separated from Bourbon when the Dutch brought seeds in 1696 and 1699 from India (not from Yemen, as is often told).

Bourbon was first introduced to the Americas in 1860 to southern Brazil, near Campinas. From there, it spread north into Central America.

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