Hot on the heels of our San Felipe espresso being released, we are happy to share with you another lot of coffee from the same estate in El Salvador: El Pedregal (stony ground). It is the second of three lots from Finca San Francisco that we have lined up to be roasted for espresso this year, and is a mechanically washed and soaked coffee. San Felipe, through an extra soaking stage, has developed more of a slim and bright character, the El Pedregal with a single soaking stage is a very harmonious and balanced coffee, with lovely texture, and the Las Ranas which will be released in a month or so has foregone any extra soaking stages, and tastes to us much more like rum raisin and dark chocolate. It is really interesting for us as coffee roasters to explore the preparation methods of coffees and dig a little deeper than simply ‘washed’, ‘honey’ and ‘natural’.
The long term goal of Jose Antonio and Andreas, who produced this coffee, is to improve their coffee quality. This involves planting new varieties and trialling new preparation methods. Part of the fun is in learning which varieties work well at different altitudes and microclimates, and what preparations bring out the best results for each lot. The El Pedregal tablón sits at a modestly high altitude and can produce good volumes of coffee, and the preparation of washing and soaking seems to stabilise the seeds and bring the flavour into a sharper focus.
As well as coffee quality, the brothers are focussing on sustainability for both their coffee plants and the livelihoods of their employees. It is the norm in El Salvador to rely heavily on chemicals found in traditional fertilisers and fungicides, as leaf rust is a widespread problem. To ensure their soil, and therefore their trees, are as healthy and robust as possible they use a mixture of nitrogen and a compost composed of coffee pulp and other organic materials. Regenerating the health of their farms means that year after year their coffees taste more intense and concentrated. This, coupled with proper processing and drying protocols, means coffees from JASAL taste fresh for an extended period.
Pickers are paid more than those working for a less discerning producer, and they do an incredible job of ensuring only uniformly ripe cherry gets delivered to the brothers’ mill. The farm managers also receive bonuses based on the coffee’s quality, which emphasises the importance of discerning cherry selection and subsequent hand-sorting. Their workers are further supported with accommodation, education on work safety and efficiency and a health care program, which includes doctors visiting the farms. The JASAL group have built and finance two medical clinics, as well as having donated land to the government to build two more medical clinics and a school complete with a football field.
Apaneca-Ilamatepec, El Salvador
Well rounded espresso with a velvety texture and sweet flavours of currants and figs. In milk expect an aftertaste of chocolate and Chelsea buns.