Bourbon Arabica, Puerto Rico… An Endangered Variety

Bourbon Arabica, Puerto Rico… An Endangered Variety

In 2019, when Cuela was just an idea, we took on the task of going to visit Café Don Luis in Yauco.  I had been working as a barista in the industry for about a year and a half and knew about the great reputation of Coffee Grower Luis Roig.  Due to the great respect that many colleagues in the industry have for him, I was interested in going to meet him and his farm.  That day I did not have the joy of finding him, but I did meet his son, José "Cano" Roig and his faithful employee of Beneficiado y Torrefacción, the great Coqui.

As soon as I arrived, Cano wanted me to visit one of the most important coffee plantations of Fincas Don Luis Inc, and without fear of being wrong, it may be one of the most important coffee plantations in Puerto Rico. When I arrived at the coffee plantation located in the Rio Prieto neighborhood of Yauco, Cano told me with great pride that they have a piece exclusively of the Bourbon Arabica variety. I was shocked because I knew that it was a variety that had not been found in Puerto Rico since practically the middle of the 20th century and I even thought it was extinct. I felt like I was in Disneyland! In essence, Don Luis Roig is the only coffee farmer on the island that owns Bourbon Single Origin coffee from Puerto Rico. As far as I understand this is not happening in any other farm in Puerto Rico.

According to world coffee literature, Bourbon is the most culturally and genetically important variety in the world. This variety is born in Ethiopia and arrives in America by French missionaries. The Latin American countries that conserve this variety the most are: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and Colombia. Experts consider it a medium-yielding variety, but this will depend on the area in which it is grown. Bourbon performs better in higher areas, as it is prone to pests such as rust and borer that occur in lower areas. Due to pests, it has been a variety that has gradually become extinct, since coffee growers are affected in working it due to the high costs of maintaining such precious coffee.

However, we won't necessarily run out of bourbon. Everything will depend on the practices that are carried out with said variety. It is important that this coffee is planted at height and under shade. In this way we will protect it from pests and help it to mature more slowly and thus reach its optimal development as a variety. The attribute that stands out the most in bourbon is the sweetness that you will be able to perceive.

We should feel proud that in Puerto Rico we still have a coffee grower like Don Luis Roig Franceschini who recognizes the importance of this variety worldwide and is still working on it. Roig Franceschini has five cuerdas of Bourbon variety and this year he managed to harvest about 22 quintals. Unfortunately, due to lack of labor, he could not collect more and did not manage to exceed the figure for 2019, which was about 35 quintals.

Don Luis is aware of his great responsibility as a coffee grower and feels enormous pride in those five strings. For us it is an honor that you have given us the confidence to have in Cuela the most important variety, culturally and genetically, in the world. This is history happening and we must preserve it as Puerto Ricans.

Access the link below and be part of it by having a delicious cup of Don Luis Borbón coffee. Please click here.

1 comment

Ramón Torres Negron

Ramón Torres Negron

Donde puedo comprar su café

Donde puedo comprar su café

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