||El Salvador Finca Argentina Washed Icatu 2020
Finca Argentina is owned by Alejandro Martinez and before he took over management of it Alé wasn’t involved in coffee. The decision he’s made with the farm often reflect that - he’s willing to try things which shouldn’t work, according to everyone else. Sometimes there’s a reason why no one else is doing it, but sometimes he hits on untapped potential - this lot is one of those.
Like many farms, Argentina has a Varietal Garden - effectively a nursery where the farm can try out new varietals to see how they grow. Unlike most farms, Alejandro had been travelling and collecting seeds from anywhere he can. Far more varied than most of his neighbours, Alé’s Varietal Garden includes Mokka, SL28, Polysperma and Blue Mountain among it’s more unusual plants. It was from the Varietal Garden that he selected new plants to trial in the wider farm. Again, unlike most farms, Alé was more than willing to try some of the varietals which have no history of success in El Salvador, as long as they had done well in the Varietal Garden. The first of these new varietals which made it to the main farm was this one - Icatu.
So what do we know about Icatu? Well, it’s a hybrid varietal that came to the forefront in 1985 in Brazil by the Agronomico de Campinas, but was officially released in 1993. Its origins come from the cultivars of Mundo Novo and Caturra although does have its feet in Bourbon and Canephora (robusta, but don't be scared), and is by far the most complicated of the varietals I’ve studied. On the face of it is a perfect varietal, high yielding, pest resistant, quite resistance to leaf rust, and has appeared as a varietal in the Cup of Excellence on a number of occasions, so retains cup quality. But it requires a certain set of circumstances to be tasty, seeming to like altitudes of 1000 - 1200 meters above sea level, sheltered from the wind and low acidity soils.
Icatu has a pretty good reputation and isn’t uncommon - in Brazil. This makes Alé’s planting of it in El Salvador super unusual - in fact, I can’t remember ever tasting Icatu from anywhere in Central America before. But he hasn’t just planted it anywhere - he’s thought a lot about where the plants will do best, choosing the Guachipelin section of the farm, where Bourbon has struggled in the past. We asked Alé how the plants have been getting on there, compared to the Bourbon which is planted on most of the farm.
"Guachipelin is a tough lot with lots of clay compared to others in the farm. Icatu is definitely better suited for such hard soil conditions - it has a better root system. It has grown more rapidly than Bourbon and it's a bit more compact, which also helps as it can be planted closer together and helps with soil protection. Lastly, it retains more foliage due to the resistance to leaf rust, which is also a big plus."
Bourbon Biscuits! It's super sweet biscuity chocolatey goodness and very easy drinking and more-ish (keeping true to those biscuits!). There's a bit of pecan nut in there too a a little caramel in the finish.
Country: El Salvador
Nearest city: Turin
Farm: Finca Argentina
Producer: Alejandro Martinez
Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
Processing method: Washed
Drying method: Patios
Bourbon biscuits, pecan nut, caramel
Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 7
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Total (max. 100): 87
Medium Dark - through first and keep a nice steady pace throughout, looking for those first pops of second in the cooling tray.
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