||El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Natural Pacamara 2021
||#SSSSS Limited Editions 2021
Hello, hi! ???? Amy here, wishing you a very warm welcome to #SSSSS April!
Spring has sprung! The days are getting longer and the weather warmer, marking the end of evenings spent curled up with a pourover + escaping to Tamriel and instead enjoying a cheeky cold brew outside in the garden for me! ????
As Chris mentioned in the previous #SSSSS Newsletter, myself and he are now looking after you lovely lot so please do give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org if there's anything you'd like to see from us at all!
Anywho enough of that, onto this month's coffee:
This month's coffee is a Natural Pacamara from Finca Las Brumas in El Salvador! (I LOVE a Natural Pacamaras, for me personally, the funkier the better!) I'll go into more depth about Pacamaras a little later on as they're a super interesting varietal, but for now let's talk about Finca Las Brumas.
Las Brumas, owned by Juan Jose Ernesto 'Neto' Menéndez Argüello, is located between 45 to 60 minutes from Santa Ana city, nestled between the 3 volcanos that make up the Los Volcanes National Park: Santa Ana, Cerro Verde and Izalco. Las Brumas therefore has very rich volcanic soil; it's deep and very fertile, and has been generated by different Ilamatepec and Izalco volcanic eruptions throughout history. It's also a very misty farm, due to the unique microclimate there, hence it's name which translates to english as "The Mists".
This unusual microclimate is a huge contributing factor to the coffee-growing success here. Moisture-rich atmosphere and limited daylight work hand in hand to slow down photosynthesis of the coffee plants here, meaning the coffee cherries have a longer maturation process. This helps to develop favourable characteristics within the coffee: aroma, sweetness, acidity and flavour.
We originally came across Neto when we purchased our first coffee from his first farm, La Ilusion, through the Cup of Excellence auction back in 2008. We went on to buy more coffees from his other small farms in the Santa Ana region, including Finca Alaska, Los Andes, and eventually the first harvest from Las Brumas in 2016. Aside from his success in the cup of excellence for multiple farm's harvests, Neto remains the only producer to have produced two coffees that have won the World Barista Championship: firstly in 2011 with a coffee from La Illusion, then again in 2017 with a coffee from Las Brumas, both roasted by Hasbean!
So, what exactly is a Pacamara?! Well, aside from being my absolute favourite varietal, this super big bean is a lab-created mash up of two different varietals: PACAs and MARAgogype (see what they did there?!).
Pacas is a natural mutation of the Bourbon varietal, discovered at Finca San Rafael, on the Santa Ana volcano in El Salvador by a visiting botanist: Dr Cogwill. He was called in to investigate a mystery coffee plant which was thriving on the farm, yielding 20% more coffee than the rest of the plants there, and the varietal he discovered was later named "Pacas" after the family who owned the farm. Unsurprisingly, flavour-wise Pacas tends to be very similar to Bourbon: balanced and lower bodied, however they are typically a little less sweet.
Maragogype is a super SUPER large bean and a mutation of the Typica varietal, originally discovered in Maragogipe, Bahia, Brazil (hence the name!) way back in 1870. It's a very low-yielding varietal, which is why we don't see it that often, and it's typically high acidity, citrus and floral flavour-wise.
These two varietals met + crossed paths during a coffee breeding programme in a Genetics lab at the El Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC) to find better (higher-yielding, more hardy) varietals. Interestingly, both Pacas + Maragogype have dominant genes, so around 10-20% of the Pacamara mutations fail and revert back to being one or the other, however from that successful 80-90% the Pacamara was born: a strong, high-yielding, disease and pest resistant big ol' bean.
Pacamaras are known for still being a pretty experimental varietal for producers (you can end up with some really not-so-delicious cups!) but the combination of the Pacas + Maragogype characteristics can marry together to produce some of the most interesting and unusual cups we've seen! Roasting is tough with these beans, due to the more open internal structure + large size of the beans they need a slower, lower roast than most other varietals (think of them as a delicious shin of beef vs a fillet) and they tend to look "more roasted" than they actually are! Bear in mind that Pacamaras also don't grind like other coffees, we find going a little finer than you usually would and allowing more time for the grinder to get its teeth into the bigger beans often leads to the tastiest of results.
Just like the Washed and Honey versions (which have tasting notes of white and brown sugar respectively), the Natural processed lot you have is super sweet. It’s also really carefully processed and not too funky, so that sweetness remains very sugary - think Jelly Tots when it’s hot, moving gradually towards brown sugar as it cools. There’s a hit of lime zest which balances that sweetness and glacé cherry joins in too, before a really delicate mango on the finish.
Country: El Salvador
Nearest city: Santa Ana
Farm: Finca Las Brumas
Producer: Juan Jose Ernesto 'Neto' Menéndez Argüello
Processing system: Natural
Altitude: 1,450–1,700 m.a.s.l.
Type of soil: Sandy loam
Average rainfall: 2,400 mm
Types of shade: Ingas, sunk, cipers and belloto
Flora and fauna present: Mountain trees, wildflowers, deer, squirrels, armadillos and snakes
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