Las Mercedes, El Salvador
Look for notes of citrus, maple syrup and almond when roasted for filter; red fruits, dark chocolate and liquorice when roasted for espresso.
Producer: Jose Fernando Aguilar
Variety: Pacamara, Pacas, Marsellesa, Custcatleco, ‘Kenia’ and Bourbon
Process: Semi-washed ‘Honey’
Elevation: 1,350 - 1,700 masl
For six generations, the Aguilar family has produced coffee on the shade-rich land on the north-eastern slope of the San Salvador Volcano, with a direct view over the capital city of San Salvador. The estates cover nearly 160 hectares at altitudes ranging from 1,250 to 1,700 meters (4,100 to 5,577 feet), the top of the farm being unusually high for El Salvador and lending to great coffee growing potential.
Las Mercedes and sister estate Santa Maria are surrounded by 100 hectares of nature reserve designated as a part of the Meso-American Biological Corridor, including a remarkable ‘mini rainforest’ with a noticeable temperature drop as you reach the very highest coffee areas. Given the importance of the preservation of the forest, the Aguilar family, in conjunction with a local NGO, have two park rangers that look after the protected natural forest year-round.
This coffee has been processed in keeping with ecological friendly processes at the nearby Tuxpal mill. Washed coffee is held in fermentation tanks for around 12 hours. Sun dried on clay patios for 14+ days, to help create a rich full body and clean cup. Fernando’s vision of utilising the natural advantage of altitude and re-committing to varieties that lend to best cup profile over rust resistance and yield, and simply managing the plant stock through good farm work, agronomy investment and experience is a bold one, but managed impeccably well. This has allowed the emergence of very high quality production in general, including this specially prepared selection from pickings around the estate.
When roasting this dense honey processed coffee for filter, the recipe begins with a sharp increase in temperature and high fan speed within the 1st minute of roasting.The recipe becomes less steep as the roast progresses. This ensures even colour throughout. First crack and development begins at 4 minutes into the roast, shortly after the recipe reaches the peak temperature. The recipe steadily decreases in applied heat until the end of the roast at 5 minutes and 30 seconds. We end up with a sweet and pleasing filter coffee, with 27% development. Expect flavours that may remind you of citrus, maple syrup, honey, strawberry and milk chocolate.
The espresso recipe begins similarly as the filter recipe. However, we are able to lengthen the amount of time spent on the roast, by altering the peak temperature. First crack begins at 4 minutes and 19 seconds, and once the first crack begins, the temperature starts to decrease slightly to allow for the even development of the coffee. The temperature slightly increases towards the end of the recipe to keep the progression of the coffee and to eek out a little more dark chocolate flavour in the espresso. The recipe ends at 7 minutes, resulting in 38% development. Anticipate flavours of red fruits, dark chocolate, liquorice, and a velvety smooth mouthfeel.