Last year we embarked upon an interesting project with the Salaverria brothers based in Santa Ana, El Salvador. One of their farms, Finca San Francisco (FSF), located in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, has been carved up into distinct tablòns, areas situated at a different altitudes and potentially planted out with different coffee varieties. Fruit harvested from these tablòns is kept separate during the processing and drying, and so there is an opportunity to taste the subtle differences due to the change in terroir when cupping samples from the different tablòns around FSF.
Our house espresso last year featured four distinct lots of coffee from FSF in a sequential release, finishing off with a blend of the four tablòns. We learnt a lot about the farm when roasting and tasting the individual lots, and were really excited to get to return this year and witness once again just how hands on Jose Antonio and Andreas are.
Their approach oversees every aspect in the production of quality coffee, from maintaining the health of their trees, harvesting, processing and drying all the way up to dry-milling and readying the coffee for export. We always make note of the evenness and uniformity of coffees from JASAL when they’re dropped into the cooling tray of our roaster. This is no accident but the result of lots of hard work.
One tablòn that we bought coffee from last year was named Loma Linda. This year, in the JASAL cupping lab we found time and time again that lots from this particular area of FSF stood out as being particularly clean and well structured. Planted out with Bourbon and Hybrido San Francisco (a natural mutation of Bourbon and Pacas that has occurred on their farm), Loma Linda sits at 1,665m and enjoys a nice windbreak and some much needed shade from surrounding foliage, as well as the tumbling mists providing respite from direct sunlight.
As Jose Antonio and Andreas are involved in every step of the supply chain, they can earmark certain lots to undergo various preparations. In the Loma Linda soaked lot we found characteristics that lend well to an all around espresso; a clean and clear structure, with solid sweetness and rounded, ripe acidity. The pulped natural lot stood out as particularly noteworthy as coffees undergoing this process so often present mostly nuttiness and a clunking, heavy sweetness. This lot does carry bags of sweetness, but is still very light on its feet, with a delicacy and clarity rarely found in pulped natural coffees.
We also tasted a unique preparation from a different tablòn called San Felipe that they were calling ‘Doble Lavado’ (Double Soaked). Having seen branches of ripe cherry still waiting to be harvested at Loma Linda we commissioned a lot to be prepared in this way from the final pickings from Loma Linda. The burgundy coloured cherry along with the squeaky clean processing create a lip smacking, concentrated and unusual fruited quality in the Loma Linda Double Soaked.
Apaneca-Ilamatepec, El Salvador
Milk chocolate and lovely caramels complement notes of red apples, fresh herbs and a zingy sherbert-like acidity, rounded off with a lush, silky mouthfeel.