What is Laurina coffee?

Laurina coffee is a rare, low-caffeine variety of Arabica coffee that has been traced to origins on Réunion Island, near Madagascar. Laurina is also frequently known as Bourbon Pointu coffee, so named for both its geographic origin and the beans' elongated, supposedly “pointy” shape. (The tree is said to be a bit pointy too!)

Nowadays, Laurina is cultivated in other parts of the world too, like Brazil, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, to name a few. After much scientific inquiry into the unusual bean, it's now thought to have first evolved as a mutation of the Bourbon variety.

Why is Laurina coffee special?

Laurina coffee is unique among Arabica varieties for its light-bodied qualities, low acidity, and naturally lower caffeine content compared to other coffees—about 1/3 to 1/2 the caffeine of typical varieties.

How does it taste?

Laurina is described as producing a more delicate coffee in the cup, with a less bright acidity and markedly higher sweetness than Bourbon coffees. It's often described as having almost no bitterness, and commonly features a creamy, lactic acidity. Some roasts have yielded enticing tasting notes like fig, walnut, tarragon, papaya, and Hobnob biscuit.

Is Laurina easy to get?

No—and it's due to exactly the uniquely low caffeine content for which it's so prized. Believe it or not, caffeine is an essential part of coffee plants' ability to thrive in nature—it deters insects and makes the plant a better survivor. So less caffeine means less durability as a crop, making Laurina plants unfortunately more challenging to grow, and even to harvest. Because of this, the scarcity of high quality Laurina has caused it to become a little bit of a cult variety in coffee circles, seeing the coffee marketed at princely sums and selling out quickly.

Where can I try Laurina coffee?

Though Laurina is scarce, some roasters do have it available from time to time. Roasters like PTs, Has Bean, and perhaps most famously The Barn Berlin have all offered Laurina on their menus when they've been able to get hold of it. Unfortunately right now there is no steady, regular supply of Laurina coffee and you're unlikely to find it in your local cafe unless you live somewhere truly special and turn up at just the right time!

Will Laurina coffee ever replace decaf?

Probably not. Though a naturally occurring coffee with low caffeine and no need for processing sounds perfect, Laurina won't replace decaf coffees anytime soon. The plants are delicate and slow to grow, which will limit volume and make price impractical for most (even as farmers continue to enthusiastically experiment with the variety.) Lower quality decaffeinated coffees such as those treated with chemical processes like Methylene Chloride will always have a price advantage for many decaf drinkers, while even higher-end water processed decafs which don't add chemical residues will still be cheaper (and offer more variety in flavor profiles) than Laurina. Additionally, decaffeination can produce a bean with lower caffeine content than even Laurina coffee, which some who turn to decaf for health reasons will continue to prefer.

Liz Clayton is the associate editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge