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.
We are currently out of stock. The review below is provided for your reference.
Coffee, or tea, or both? Cascara is the skin of the coffee cherry. When you wet-process coffee, the skin is difficult to save, and usually becomes part of the compost mix for the farm. But in Arabia and Africa, the skin of the cherry is used to make a very potent tea called Qishr (also spelled Kisher). In fact, making a tea from the dried coffee fruit pre-dates roasting the coffee seed to crush and steep in water, coffee as we know it. And even today, the price of Qishr is higher than the price of coffee in an Arabic market. Aida Batlle, who produces some of our Central American coffees (Finca Kilimanjaro, Aida's Grand Reserve), started to save and dry the coffee fruit skins from her small dry-processing experiments. Cascara is the name used in Central America for these fruit skins, and a perfect name for the tea made from them as well. If you like fruit-blend herbal teas, especially those with fruited flavors like hibiscus, rose-hips, tamarind, orange peel, mango, apple, you should like Cascara tea a lot. It makes amazing iced tea as well, and with a very moderate amount of honey can be very pleasant. The best way to make Cascara tea is in a French Press, or you can use any method you would use for preparing herbal tea. Brewing like filtered coffee does not work well. Cascara benefits from a long steep time (8 minutes), and you can make it a bit strong, then add water (or pour over ice) to taste. Traditionally, Qishr has additions of cardamom pods and sugar while brewing, and that is another interesting preparation with Cascara as well. Does it have caffeine? Yes, since all parts of the coffee plant do ...but we don't know how much, and it will certainly depend on steep time and the amount used to make each cup.
Cascara has a raisin-prune smell, clean and clearly fruited. It definitely smells like dried hibiscus flower, also used to make Jamaica, the iced sweet tea found in Mexico. As soon as you add water you can smell tamarind as well, the other popular Latin iced tea. As mentioned, the flavors of many dried fruits come out in this tea: hibiscus, tamarind, raisin, plum/prune, dried passion fruit, and mango. I feel that it benefits from a little sweetener; I have used a moderate amount of honey with good results. It's best to experiment with steep times and additives to find the combination that works best for your taste. Possibilities for the use of Cascara tea seem endless; cooking, sauces, baking, beer brewing. It's a tea. But it's coffee. It's unique.
We are currently out of stock. The review above is provided for your reference.
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