The prevailing etymology of the word ‘cocktail’, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is of equestrian origin: any horse that was not a thorough-bred, or whose tail was cut short because it was serving as a hunter or stage-horse, could be described as a cocktail or a cocktailed horse. Eventually gaining a negative connotation, it probably was used to describe any sort of adulterated alcohol in the form of a mixed drink. Nowadays, we even use it for harmful or otherwise potent amalgams of substances, such as cocktails of drugs or Molotov cocktails.
Most of us, when we hear the phrase “Bourbon coffee,” likely think of something akin to a liqueur, or perhaps an invigorating drink coined in Kentucky. But Bourbon coffee actually refers to the variety of Coffea arabica that was initially grown on Île Bourbon, now known as Réunion (still an overseas department of France), shortly after arabica was transported from its native Ethiopia.
And Bourbon coffee, unlike those nineteenth-century horses of mixed stock, is no cocktail. With such untainted ancestry, a mere one step removed from the original Ethiopian Typica, the Bourbon cultivar (“cultivate” + “variety”) is one of the most popular and high quality varieties grown around the world today. José Luis, Xandari’s head gardener, remembers working fifty years ago as a young man–“younger than you are now,” as he put it–in coffee plantations that were largely of Bourbon, or Borbón, as it is called in Spanish. Now, almost two decades after the transformation from Doka Estate to Xandari Resort & Spa, we’re replanting Borbón on property to go back to the hills’ roots.
With that groundwork laid, I’ll leave the explanation and photos of the planting process for another post, similar to this one! If you’re curious, you can read more about Bourbon coffee’s history relative to France on the Michelin guide’s Travel page.