Green Coffee Offerings : Central America : El Salvador
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We're winding through El Salvador coffees rather quickly.
About Salvadorian Coffee
I am a believer: El Salvador has great coffee. Bourbon varietal coffees are one end of the spectrum, balanced, classic "Central" profile and also a good alternative to Brazil as a base for espresso; Pacamara varietal coffees are their opposite, quirky and full of character. High altitudes and good, dense, traditional varietals are a large part of it.
El Salvador coffee had an undeservingly poor reputation for years, marred mostly by the inability to deliver coffee of high quality in an unstable social climate. Unfortunately, agriculture is the first to suffer in revolution and civil insecurity, since it requires years to rebuild a farm if it is neglected. In El Salvador the coffee trade, like the government in general, was controlled by a ruling elite, a handful of wealthy families that operated many farms. El Salvador had tended towards the right politically, and the smaller coffee farmer and coffee workers fared poorly in this climate.
But the democratic movements and decades of civil war have changed many things. It shows in the quality of coffee, and the availibility of small lots from exceptional small-scale farms. Instead of low grade commercial blending coffees, we now see an eruption of farm-specific regional offerings from small co-ops or estates. El Salvador always had the right ingredients ---soil, altitude, climate ---to produce coffee on par with Guatemala. Most of all, it has the cultivars; Bourbon, the classic old-world coffee; Pacamara, the full-character, odd-ball varietal.
For the past 7 years I have been able to buy incredible Salvadors --drop dead quality, great acidity, refinement and depth. Last year it was the incredible Organic Los Naranjos. Then we had the Santa Ritas and Salaverrias. Good stuff. Then the real bombshell coffee: the Cup of Excellence lot from the San Francisco farm. After that, our Organic Santa Adelaida lots, and our Pacamara Cup of Excellence coffees. This truly represents the pinnacle of high grown Salvadors.
If you like, you can read about my earliest trip there, and role as a judge in the competition. I visited some of our important coffee sources, such as Aida Batlle's Kilimanjaro farm, and Vickie Dalton's Finca Matalapa. All the travelogues are collected in the travelogue section of the Coffee Library .
Our Unroasted Salvadoran Coffee Offerings:Please refer to our Reference Page for definitions of terms and cupping numbers used below. Check out the Sweet Maria's Coffee Home Roasting Forum for more conversation about home roasting this and other coffees.
El Majahual is part of a larger farm that was divided some years back. Majahual averages 1500 meters although much of the farm is higher up. This year we decided to offer lots from those specific plots on the farm that are at the upper altitudes, that are basically 1600 meters and up. These are called "tablones" which literally means plank or board. La Montana is named as such since it cuts a vertical swath up the steep slope all the way to the edge of the natural forest preserve at the top of the farm. At that altitude, the coffee just doesn't produce due to the cold air and cloud cover. So Montana is as high as it gets on the farm. Besides selecting by tablon, the farm is impressive in other ways. I visited a couple times, and was amazed by the 50 to 80 year old Bourbon trees. There is a minority percentage of Pacas at El Majahual, which is a local type of Bourbon as well. The trees at the farm seemed so healthy, with great coffee production on branches from top to bottom, despite their age. It proves that long-term, traditional farming techniques can result in good production volumes and cup quality too, rather than new techniques that exhaust small hybrid plants that must then be replaced every 10 years. This coffee is marketed as "Aida Batlle Selection" because Aida, known for Finca Kilimanjaro, takes a hand in marketing the coffee.
From the ground coffee, the fragrance has slight Brazil nut hints, with cocoa and butterscotch sweetness. While pouring the hot water caramelized sugar and chocolate tapioca scents emerge, with a more semi-sweet chocolate and almond in the break. It's a balanced and basic cup, with a raw sugar taste at City+ roast, a thick body and lots of nut-to-chocolate roast tones. Deeper roasts develop nice cocoa roast tones, while middle roast ranges show rich tapioca flavors. The mouthfeel intensifies as the cup cools and becomes quite creamy. The cup finishes with bittersweet notes, a bit of cacao and caramel, with a slightly tannic almond skin accent. This makes a great alternative to Brazil coffees as an espresso blend base. It gives a classic, bittersweet espresso flavor.
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To view reviews for out of stock coffees, visit our El Salvador Coffee Archives.
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This page is authored by Thompson Owen and Sweet Maria's Coffee, Inc. and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission