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Reunion's scent of success

Bourbon Pointu coffee, which had died out over the last few decades, has been given a new lease of life thanks to the passion of a hundred or so family producers. It was discovered in 1771 on Reunion Island, formerly called the Bourbon Island. As a drink it was greatly appreciated in the court of Louis XV.

Bourbon pointu is a coffee variety obtained from a mutation of the Arabica cultivar. 

The drink has a delicate taste, with exceptional sensory properties, mainly due to its delicate aroma and highly original fruity taste: orange, tangerine and even lychee in some batches.

Nowadays on Reunion Island, Bourbon pointu coffee is harvested manually and very carefully, using selective hand-picking at optimum maturity, as the cherries do not all ripen at the same time. It is wet-processed then sun-dried before being roasted in the old fashioned way so it can fully express the aromas and flavours of the land that it comes from.

For those who have tasted it, this coffee made in a grègue (a traditional Reunion Island coffee maker) is exceptional! Bourbon pointu coffee is considered to be one of the finest in the world by connoisseurs.

But there is another fragrant product of this fascinating island.

1841: a young slave learns how to raise vanilla on Reunion Island ...

Towards the middle of the 19th century, scientists discovered that the vanilla tree needed an external fertilizing agent, in this case, bees. At the same time on the island of Bourbon, Ferreol Beaumont Bellier became interested in botanical vanilla plants on the island of Réunion. Then, in 1841, a young slave, Edmond Albius, orphaned and taken as a son by M. Beaumont Bellier made the discovery that will revolutionize the culture of vanilla.

This discovery allowed the development of the vanilla culture of the island of Reunion, which became the world's leading vanilla exporter. The means of fertilisation of vanilla flowers was discovered on the island of Reunion; the techniques of drying and fermentation of vanilla beans was practiced by the Aztecs, and all these methods were introduced to the other islands of the Indian Ocean from Bourbon Island: Seychelles first, then Madagascar and the Comoros.

So important was this that on the coat of arms of the island of Reunion, a vanilla vine wraps around the motto of the late Indian Company Florebo quocumque ferar (I will blossom where I am worn).

More details....

Sally intoduces "Just Enough French" and talks on France on Radio 2GB with Warren Moore




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