El Salvador can produce very good coffee. Bourbon varietal coffees are at one end of the spectrum, with a balanced, classic "Central" profile, 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 factor in the quality of El Salvador coffees. The country also produces an abundance of lower-grown coffee with fairly average cup quality.
Siberia is a farm we have worked with for some years now. It's a pleasure to know the owners, Carmen and Rafael Silva Hoff. It has a great track record in the Cup of Excellence for their Bourbon varietal coffees, and we value Siberia Bourbon as a balanced straight roast, or in espresso blends. As with previous years, I was very impressed again with the Pacamara cultivar coffee from Siberia in 2010. Some Pacamara coffees can be more herbal and oniony, not something many people want in their coffee. This lot is very clean, sweet, floral and citrusy. This coffee is from one of the best and most prolific coffee areas in Santa Ana, grown at 1300-1450 meters. Ironically it is not far from other farms we buy from, as the crow flies that is. But the drive to the farm is circuitous and takes hours on some of the dustiest roads I think I have ever been on!
Pacamara coffee is almost always defined by its sweetness or lack there of - this lot from Siberia Estate is definitely the former. The dry fragrance has a powerful smell of maple syrup and caramel, and with notes of orange zest, marzipan, and cocoa powder in the background. The wet grounds remind me of the smell of fresh custard with toasted caramel. There's an herbal note that comes up on the break that is fresh and sweet. This makes for a very sweet cup, and with a nice, refreshing acidity that is like essence of lemon. This coffee cools so well, with much of its profile obscured when piping hot. There's an abundance of citrus - pomello juice, kumquat, and lemon to name a few. The profile has a nuttiness to it that is like the sweet side of a raw almond. The body is weighty, and with a mouthfeel of clarified butter. This is really a great brewed coffee and I would probably steer clear of using as a SO espresso. These beans are really dense, and I recommend roasting to City+ or beyond to develop sweetness, and also to avoid a woodiness that is found in the cup at the rawer end of the roast spectrum.
Tempisque is back for the new crop. 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. I found that the Tablon El Tempisque was distinct in the cup, so we chose to separate it from the others. Tempisque is toward the top of the farm, and over that altitude the coffee just doesn't produce due to the cold air and cloud cover. It is a traditional farm, and has many 50 to 80 year old Bourbon trees. There is a minority percentage of Pacas variety trees too , which is a local type of Bourbon as well. The trees at the farm seem 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 is a very versatile coffee that does well as brewed coffee and espresso, as a straight single origin or as a blend component.
From the ground coffee, the fragrance ranges from malted milk to hazelnuts and cocoa powder. There's much in the way of toasted sugar along with hints of cinnamon. The wet aroma is very sweet with caramel and butter scents emerging, slight red apple notes and mulling spices. It's a very rounded and balanced aromatic image, which suggests the old Bourbon cultivar that comprises most of this coffee. The cup taste stays true to the aromatics; rounded and balanced, with a thick and syrupy body. There are delicious cocoa chocolate notes that combine well with almond roast tones. A mild red apple sweetness lurks behind the roast notes, and fades to cocoa-dusted nut tones in the finish. While balanced as drip or press coffee, Tablon Tempisque is really intense and wonderful as espresso. I made SO espresso shots from City+ to FC+ roasts and found it performed well all along the spectrum. Classic espresso flavors of chocolate bittersweets have a nice bright note, gingerbread spice flavors.