Pretty (risky) in pink: Meet Casa Loma Pink Bourbon

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Millennial pink, pink gin… and now Pink Bourbon? You might think the coffee world is jumping on a very pretty, flower-strewn bandwagon – and in a way you’d be right.

The Pink Bourbon varietal has only really been (re)discovered in the last 10 years – but we promise it’s got substance, not just style. And Ramiro Suarez Ramos from the Casa Loma farm has proved that, by growing us a batch!

What is Pink Bourbon?

You might have seen the plain old Bourbon variety on one of your coffee cards – Pink Bourbon is a mutation of that. Thought to have developed in Africa, and come to South and Central America many years ago, it’s only really been consciously grown in the last 10 years.

What’s most distinctive about it is that it ripens pink – but it also has deliciously unique flavour notes.

Pact Coffee and Casa Loma

Before we get carried away talking about Casa Loma Pink Bourbon itself, let’s step back. We’ve been worked with Ramiro for five years now – it was with him we built one of our first Direct Trade relationships, and on his farm that our Three Phase Programme was developed. So we go way back.

Based in Acevedo, Huila in Colombia, he’s moved from 10 to 15 hectares on Casa Loma – but including other farms he and his family own, he’s clocking in at a considerable 39 hectares! He inherited Casa Loma from his father, as none of his three brothers were interested in taking it on. But it’s a good job he did – as his coffee stands out on the cupping table every year.

Coffee Varieties: why Colombians grow Castillo

Ever since we’ve known Ramiro, he’s been growing the Castillo or Colombia varieties of coffee. The reasons for that is simple: it’s recommended and incentivised by the government for companies to grow Castillo, because it’s A) disease-resistant B) high-yielding and C) got longevity as a tree.

In Colombia, rust disease is a real concern. It’s in both the government’s and the farmers’ best interest that they do whatever they can to ensure their farms staying healthy and active. But farmers being incentivised to grow a particular variety isn’t unique to Colombia.

In Rwanda it happens too – but for different reasons. The Rwandan government encourages farmers to grow the Bourbon variety. It’s not particularly protected against diseases – not such a problem, as Rwanda is less affected – nor does it produce a notably high yield of cherries. Instead, Bourbon produces a very high quality coffee – thus generating more profit for the farmers, and a healthier economy overall.

For Colombian farmers, growing Bourbon is generally too much of a risk – despite the considerably higher price it can fetch. But Ramiro took that risk.

Why Ramiro took a chance on Pink Bourbon

It’s important to be clear – Pact Coffee don’t encourage farmers to take unnecessary risks. There’s enough up in the air – from C-market crashes to crop-destroying pests – to contend with, without making silly decisions.

But for farmers who really know what they’re doing, who are in a safe and stable position, who are guaranteed future trade, who mitigate the risk? We’re happy to help out.

That’s what Ramiro did. He planted just 5% Bourbon, with our guarantee that we’d buy any crop produced from that on top of his usual (and much loved) beans. As trees take four years to fully mature – and can be struck down by disease, pests or climate events at any point – this is a safer strategy.

The Coffee: Casa Loma Pink Bourbon

His Bourbon trees are two years old currently, and have produced just a single sack of coffee for our customers. Just one sack, from a considerable amount of work and time spent. And boy was it worth it.

Think soft, delicate peach notes. Think the tangy acidity you find in green apples. Think a raisin and nutmeg aftertaste, balancing out the coffee’s profile and finishing with a silky mouthfeel. It’s special. And you could try it – just buy it here.

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