Intro by Chris Kornman
The unparalleled popularity of our lot of Pink Bourbon “Aguazul” from Colombia back in April led us to return to our supply partner to see if they had more. “Not til next season” in most areas of the world means a full calendar year before the subsequent harvest cycle. Fortunately for us, Colombia’s unique geography and climate allows for multiple annual harvests in many areas of the country. And so, here we have a fresh crop from the same producer group just a few months apart from the last.
It’s a delicious little coffee with a lot of similarities to its previous iteration. Juicy and expressive, one can find hints of watermelon candy, kiwi fruit, guava, cherimoya, and cherry fruit flavors. There’s a hint of rose petal and a lush, decadent body and lingering finish. It’s especially lovely as it cools, brightening and sweetening, which hints at a potential late-season surprise for a cold brew or iced option, if that’s your pleasure.
Tucked away in the mountainous regions near Palestina in Colombia’s southern Huila department, this coffee was harvested and processed by a small group of producers associated with an organization called Terra Coffee SAS. Most are multi-generational homes who have been producing coffee for decades. The region is part of a gateway to a national park called “Cuevas de los Guacharos” (the Guacharo is a large, fruit-eating bird), and was once called “Aguazul,” a name that Terra Coffee have applied to their exports.
Most of these farms average less than 3 hectares a piece, but small plot size hasn’t impeded Colombian producers from adding value to their crops. Unlike smallholders in many other areas of the world, who frequently sell their cherries to centralized processing centers, Colombia’s powerful Federation (FNC) has empowered producers to pulp, ferment, and wash their coffee, thus selling finished parchment to a dry mill and getting a higher price per pound. Average fermentation times in the region are relatively long, 25-30 hours per batch.
One of the unique things I noticed, and it seems was present in the previous lot as well as I look back at my notes from the early days of COVID isolation, is that the seed shape is especially long. As most bourbon seeds tend to be round and wide, I was a little surprised. We inquired with our contact at the exporter Mastercol’s office, (as my exposure to the plant is very limited) and Natalia Mejia responded that “usually the pink bourbon has that elongated shape, in fact we checked several samples from other lots and they have the same shape.”
Bourbon is notorious for its inherent instability. Caturra, Laurina, Mokha, Pacas, and Villa Sarchi, yellow, orange, pink, and even black varieties have evolved over the years since it was first taken from Yemen to its eponymous island in the Indian Ocean. (If you’re curious to learn more about that story, my article in the September/October issue of Roast might be a good place to start.)
And so, this elongated, pink fruit mutation once again graces us with its presence. We snagged a bit to serve as espresso at The Crown, so feel free to swing by and grab a taste. Otherwise, pounce on this lot while you have the chance and grab some green to roast on your own!
Green Analysis by Elise Becker
This Pink Bourbon from Huila comes to us with solid specs. It has about the average water activity and average moisture content, and a slightly above average density. For size, there is some dispersion among the screens, but the majority of beans fall within the range of 15-17. Considering the density and Bourbon’s typical behavior in the roast, it may be wise to ramp up the charge temperature on the roaster, as this one may be resistant to heat. Be sure to check out Alex and Evan’s notes on roasting for more tips.
The variety here is from the Bourbon family, a well-known variety selected from Yemen landraces and largely disseminated across the world by French missionaries and colonists. Bourbon was first introduced in the Americas in southern Brazil during the 1860s, and spread north into Central America from there. Bourbon can be distinguished by color, coming in red, yellow, orange and pink varieties. Pink Bourbon originated in Colombia, and though like other Bourbons it is highly susceptible to disease, is prized for its good productivity and high cup quality potential.
Ikawa Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on a brand new Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
This is my first time tasting a Pink Bourbon, I’m pretty sure, so I was curious to experience it for myself. I put this coffee through our standard roast profiles on our V3, and have come here to report on my experiences!
Our standard, hot and fast roast profile behaved a little strangely in the roaster, with a very late first crack at nearly 5:27, which is almost half a minute later than I would expect. Its aroma was reminiscent of red wine and cinnamon, and in the cup, I tasted notes of red grape, cherry, dark chocolate, and rooibos. Its flavors were a little mild and muted, and the body was somewhat sticky. To be honest, this wasn’t my favorite roast of this coffee.
Our profile with an extended Maillard phase behaved a little more normally in the roaster, and the result was more to my liking. In the cup I tasted notes of red wine, orange, peach, black tea, and molasses. It was somewhat sweeter and had less of a chocolate quality than the previous note, and my overall impression was of sangria. My guess is that the longer Maillard phase let the coffee soak up a little more heat before first crack, and certainly its sugar browning notes were more developed.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Probatino Analysis by Candice Madison
Hot and fast! Not just the way this coffee left the gate and sprang into your hands earlier this year! It’s a suggestion on how to roast to get the best from it! The Aguazul Pink Bourbon is a Crown, hell, a Royal favourite, and one that, serendipitously (well, due to the climate in Colombia and the number of crops they are able to eke out a year) we are able to offer at both ends of this incredibly strange and disconcerting year. Just the return of our favourite coffees comforts us, the fact that we are coming back to this within months soothes the pandemic nervous, somewhat.
I love this coffee, but it’s a bit of a rodeo to roast. The moderate/high density and smackbang perfect moisture content made me anticipate a push, so I started this coffee at a slightly hotter charge temperature than usual, 365 F at 2 on the gas dial. I would advise either starting hotter, or, more on a small batch machine, starting with your highest gas application at the charge. I stepped up to 3 and then 3.5 as the roast progressed through stage one. This coffee is beautifully floral, with gorgeous, complex acidity. Knowling this, I wanted to spend the time in stage one wisely, before slowing things down and giving this sweet coffee a chance to complete the Maillard and sugar browning reactions of stage 2. Unfortunately, I had my foot on the gas pedal too hard for too long, and it wasn’t long after the advent of stage 2 that the coffee began to race. I had been a little too eager, so had to course correct and turned the gas right down to the minimum on our dial – 2. However, assuming that this because this coffee had a moderate water and density content, I thought I should give it a little bump of gas (to 2.5), coming back down to the minimum before the coffee began to crack – at around 392F, I heard the first few pops, but it really got going at around 397F.
This coffee races ahead at first crack, it needs less of a bump up, and a more gradual decrease, dropping the gas before the roll of first crack, and either leaving it, or raising it again slightly, depending on how deep past first crack you wish to take it.
Mine, a short roast, meant the 1 min 15 seconds spent in post-crack development resulted in a 19% development ratio. I mean, take all of these percentages with a grain of salt, but I was interested to see whether or not the fruit and floral notes had been drowned out by the sugar development.
Not to worry! It was bright and sweet, right up front, notes of hibiscus, cherryade and a pink lemonade, that softened to a lemon meringue sweetness. Along with the higher toned sweetness of bubblegum and confectioners sugar, I also found notes of light molasses. The fruit and sugary notes were tempered by an orange zest and star fruit acidity. A bold coffee with a thick body. The last of this hot girl’s summer, is as big and juicy as a fall festival firework. Enjoy a syrupy espresso or a fantastic batch brew option at The Crown, from next week! But ok, we’ll have some green coffee for you to buy online too – we’re nice like that!
Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
I’m officially back on the Quest M3s and relearning some of its idiosyncrasies, just in time for the solid and consistent coffees of South America to start rolling in. This Colombia Pink Bourbon was a favorite last year, and I’m expecting the same, as the fundamentals of this coffee remain just as compelling.
The first thing I noticed about this coffee was the large proportion of pointy beans. While this isn’t something I look for on the Quest, the habit remained from the Behmor – these sort of beans tend to get caught in the perforations of the Behmor’s barrel, but I didn’t have to worry about that in this case, and simply revelled in the genetic implications of such a pointy bean. This is a characteristic we usually see in Typica and in landrace varieties of coffee, but it has carried over to the Pink Bourbon mutation as well.
Anyhow, I started this coffee out with a charge temperature similar to my other roasts, 390F. The difference here is that I cut power to the burners and kept fan speed high until just before Turning Point in an effort to induce a ‘deep-v,’ or lower my turning point temperature. The consequence is one I recalled shortly after – that my drying stage was going to extend for longer than I wanted it to! The fan on the Quest M3s has more of an effect than one might expect – do be careful in airflow application. I spent nearly 60% of the roast in drying stage.
The roast itself didn’t extent for too long, however. This coffee takes on heat very well, and after slowly decreasing amperage and increasing airflow back to their original levels throughout the roast, my final roast time was 7:03. While I only got 1:06 of post-crack development, and my drop temperature was slightly higher than I would have liked at 410F, the result on the cupping table was quite respectable.
Certainly I would have liked to see a bit more sugar development here, but the acids presented in this coffee were simply phenomenal. I echoed Alex’s notes of blood orange and clean sugar, with something like ruby red grapefruit lingering on my palette.
As a brewed coffee a few days off roast, more sugars made themselves known. Super sweet caramel and red apple notes came through on my Chemex brew of this coffee, and the body was resolutely syrupy. It’s really no wonder this coffee is a favorite – I’m really looking forward to drinking the rest of my roast this weekend!
Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor
I think this year’s first harvest of Pink Bourbon from Huila went through Crown Jewel analysis in the first week or two after the Bay Area shut down due to Covid-19. So while we were trying to figure out what the heck a “zoom” is, and what exactly a barista is supposed to work on from home, I was also hearing loads of praise and hype for this Pink Bourbon! Supposedly it tasted amazing, and it certainly sold out quickly; before I even knew what had happened, it sold out, and I never got to taste any. So it goes.
So needless to say, I was quite happy to be reminded about the peculiarity of Colombia’s harvest cycles and learn that another lot of Pink Bourbon would be arriving soon! I quite enjoyed my first tastes of this coffee as it went through a sample roast, and then Ikawa analysis and Probatino analysis, and was very much so looking forward to tasting it as a properly brewed cup of coffee, as opposed to just cupping it.
Nothing too out of the ordinary with my brew specs here, except that I was able to push the grind size a bit finer than usual. It’s worth noting that I used a brew hack to keep the Kalita filter from sealing to the brewer and choking the end of the brew: just toss 3-5 whole coffee beans in the brewer before you put the filter in! My first brew was fine (notes of blood orange, raw sugar, and dark chocolate) but I knew I could get more out of this coffee, so I pushed the grind a little finer for the next two brews. This bumped my extraction percentage up a good bit and I think it paid off nicely! We still tasted that juicy blood orange note, but it was joined by a nice black cherry and lemon zest, with loads of sweet notes like maple sugar, molasses, vanilla, almond, dark chocolate, and fudge. I particularly enjoyed my last brew, which I brewed at an admittedly silly brew ratio of 1:20 (I really enjoy light-bodied coffees). And while it did have a touch of dryness on the finish, the cup definitely opened up and felt a bit more balanced than the 1:15. Ultimately I think this coffee performs very well at either strength. If you like a bolder, punchier cup, 1:15 is a great starting point, and if, like me, you enjoy light-bodied or delicate coffees, don’t be afraid to try a lower ratio! (But maybe don’t take it all the way to 1:20)
I’m quite glad to say this coffee lives up to the hype! So much so that we snagged a whole bag of it just for ourselves at The Crown! Okay, it’s not just for us, it’s for us to serve to the public, but I’m still excited that I’ll get to drink more of it. And since it will be on the Tasting Room menu as an espresso and drip coffee in a week or two, you can try it too! Pink Bourbon for everyone! What more could we ask for?