||El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Natural Bourbon 2015
||Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Ranges
This is one of my all-time favourite farms, back for a second year! We welcome it back with the widest of arms, it's so, so special. I often get asked what my favourite coffee of all time is. I will never say exactly (although my friends know the true answer), but I say narrow it to three coffees. This is one of them.
I went to El Salvador in 2008 on a buying trip, visiting some of the farms that we buy from. I actually arrived the evening of the Cup of Excellence awards. After the ceremony, I was walking around when this guy who seemed very popular came over to me and introduced himself. He was Ernesto or, as I would come to know him, Neto. He had just won the Cup of Excellence competition with his 'La Ilusión' farm, the sister farm of 'Alaska'. Alaska is a farm we had bought from in Cup of Excellence the year before. Ernesto invited me to visit La Ilusión the next day. It was so great to finally meet someone I had communicated with so many times via email.
Neto bought La Ilusión nine years ago. The farm has coffee trees averaging 19 years of age and is growing 95% Bourbon (70% is red Bourbon and 25% is orange Bourbon). The remaining 5% is a combination of other varietals, and it is possible to spot some Typica and Kenya trees.
The farm is run using environmentally friendly practices. They are trying to maintain a balance with the surrounding ecosystem, which is part of a natural fauna corridor crucial to migratory and native birds. This is very important for Ernesto because La Ilusión neighbours one of the most important national parks in El Salvador, known as 'Los Andes'. It is nestled on the Santa Ana volcano and delineates his farm with dense pine and cypress forest, which itself provides a special micro-climate for La Ilusión.
The naturally processed version of this coffee was used by the 2011 World Barista champion, Alejandro Mendez. He caused a bit of a stir in the world of barista competition by using the naturally processed lot in his milk drinks and his signature drink, then using the washed (this coffee) as his espresso. He caused such a stir that he won! That year I had roasted the coffee for Alejandro, and it had been grown by Neto. There was a magical moment backstage in which I was stood, polishing glass, with Alejandro and Neto; the grower, roaster and barista all stood together, preparing for the presentation. It's not too often you get such wonderful things happening!
In the cup there's a punnet of all the dark berries you can think of, juicy and ripe and just perfectly dark fruity. There's the sweetness of brown sugar and that sweetness continues into the finish where you'll find a delicious glug of sherry.
Country: El Salvador
Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range
City: Santa Ana
Farm: La Ilusión
Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello
Altitude: 1,750-1,850 m.a.s.l.
Processing System: Natural
This one is a medium roast, and definitely no more. Take this any darker and you will make me cry. Into the first pops of second if you must, but no more. No oils please.
"Quick Look" Guide
Dark berries, brown sugar, sherry.
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