Green Coffee Offerings : Central America : El Salvador
Upcoming Crop Comments
2013 El Salvador coffees are landing. This year's lots are a notch above the previous, and we're very excited to start to filling out our offers from this origin.
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.
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.
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Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yield than modern types like Catuai, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon coffees, especially those from El Salvador, are neotypical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolaty and have a creamy mouthfeel. Bourbons should be appreciated for more than their sturdiness, versatility (they make great espresso blend components) and the way they take a wide range of roasts. Each has unique accent notes too. This coffee is from one of the best, most prolific coffee areas in Santa Ana, grown up to 1450 meters, and 100% Bourbon cultivar. We bought it before as a 23rd place coffee in the Cup of Excellence, and it has been as high as 6th place in previous competitions. The farm was founded in 1870 and is managed by Rafael Silva Hoff, representing the 4th generation of the Silva family to run the farm! The name Siberia refers to the chaotic weather at this altitude, and inaccessibility of the farm in the past. The coffee is processed using a traditional fermentation technique that draws out a bit more fruit and sweetness from this coffee.
This Siberia Estate Bourbon is a versatile coffee, which works well in espresso and drip type brewing. Roasting to City+ brings out date sugar in the aromatics, along with notes of toasted hazelnut and cocoa powder. This profile is accentuated when hot water is added and wafts of deep sugar browning and malt syrup come up in the steam. This is a nice, solid El Salvador, with prevalent sweetness and with pleasing accents of nut and cocoa. The body is great, I highly recommend this lot for espresso, SO Espresso if you can extend the roast. It gives a classic, bittersweet espresso flavor, and performs so well in the roaster.
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Finca Matalapa is a classic estate coffee, long before there were mini-mills and micro-lots. It has a complete independent mill to service the farm, from the tree through wet-processing, patio drying, hulling and preparation, to loading the coffee in jute bags and packing the shipping container. The mill is filled with fantastic, classic coffee equipment painted in bold colors. And it's the passion of the owner, Vickie Ann Dalton de Diaz, and the love of archaic machinery on the part of her husband that keeps the mill running and the coffee tasting so wonderful! Finca Matalapa is in the Libertad area, not far from the capital of San Salvador, on a west-facing slop ranging from 1200 meters up to the ridge top at 1350 meters. It's not the highest farm around, but the coffee cups out so well. It's a 4th generation coffee estate totaling 120 hectares and was founded in the late 1800's by Fidelia Lima, great grandmother of the Vickie. She maintains 14 acres of virgin tropical forest and keeps her coffee plants shaded with over forty varieties of larger trees. The cup has the character I aspire to find in El Salvador Bourbon-type coffees, though because of the strong winds in the area they find the native Salvador Pacas varietal to fare better in this region. Pacas is a natural mutation of the Bourbon varietal.
This is truly a balanced coffee and with sweet accent notes. The dry fragrance has a bit of orange, apricot, honey, and golden raisin. There's a raw sugar sugar sweetness at Full City along with a note of five spice. A smell of hazelnut emerges in the steam when adding hot water, and there are notes of praline and rhubarb pie in the crust. The cup tastes of fresh caramel and almond, and with a subtle bittering cocoa quality. Complexity builds in the cooling cup, and notes of apple, pear, and mild citrus 'pop'. Layered chocolate notes are dominant in darker roasts, while still retaining aspects of malic fruit. This is such a great option for a "classic", SO espresso. I pulled a shot with a Full City roast with loads of chocolate, citrus zest, and a viscous body.
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This is a special 20 lbs sampler that consists of 4 different coffees,from Central and South America. With so many regions from these areas providing us with new crop coffees right now, it's a great opportunity for us to pass along variety and volume to our home roasters. Normally when you buy a 20 LB bag of coffee from us it has to be all one single origin or blend, so this is a nice way to split up some of that volume between a few different options. We put in a lot of work in Guatemala this year, so the sampler will consist of two Guatemalan coffees, as well as one-each selection from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, and El Salvador. Your coffee will ship in our regular mylar 5 LB zip bags, no fancy cloth bags like our full 20 LB bags.
Due to the special pricing for this sampler we cannot honor special requests nor accept returns. Thanks.
New crop Central American coffees are already here, and regions in South America are beginning to trickle in now. This means that we'll be working into new regions and lots as they arrive. And for now, here is an example of the lots you'll see included in this XL Sampler - Please keep in mind we will be doing the selecting and lots will come and go, but trust us, we'll pick 4 great lots along the lines of the following:
- Guatemalal Huehuetenango Tono Sanchez
- Guatemala Huehuetenango Xinabajul
- Guatemala Antigua Finca Retana
- Nicaragua Acopio Suyutal
- El Salvador Majahual - Tablon Tempisque
- Honduras Dolores Merendon
- Peru FTO Cecovasa
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