El Salvador Malacara Tablon 2
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We’re diving further and further into the care package that the folks at Barefoot Coffee Roasters sent me last week.

Before 2013 (before this month, actually), I had never tried anything from Barefoot Coffee, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. In the past couple weeks I’ve gotten to try the effervescent and sparkling Guatemala Palo Blanco and, more recently, the delicate and graceful Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere.

After sampling these two, and tasting the vast difference between them, I’m really not sure what to expect with the remaining coffees in this package.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of El Salvador Finca Malacara B, Tablon 2, from Barefoot Coffee Roasters in San Jose, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.

Malacara translates as ‘bad face’ which is an incongruous name for such a wonderful farm. Finca Malacara which was established by Rafael Alvarez Lalinde. Coffee has been grown on this farm since the 1800s and it has been owned and managed by the Alvarez family since 1889. As the farm has been passed down through three generations it has been separated into three farms, Malacara A, B and C.

Roberto “Chele” Dumont is one of a long line of coffee producers whose hard work and eye for detail shows in everything he does. Since taking over Malacara B, cup quality has improved tenfold.

Malacara B is planted with Bourbon and Pacas varieties and has an extensive shade canopy of cedar, walnut, avocado, ingas and graviola. The shade helps to protect the growing cherry from the harsh midday sun and also protects younger trees from wind and rain damage. The shade trees often provide an additional crop for the farm. The farm has forty hectares planted with coffee and each hectare has approximately 3500 coffee trees.

The farm is located on the northern slope of the Santa Ana volcano, amidst a cloud covered, misty micro climate that creates the perfect environment in which to grow coffee.
Winners of three Cup of Excellence awards, Malacara B placed 13th in 2006, 20th in 2007 and in 2008 it took 5th place. Collecting such highly coveted recognition in such a short span shows the high quality of coffee that this estate produces.

the basics:

origin: Santa Ana, El Salvador
farm: Finca Malacara B, Tablon 2
elevation: 1700 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Direct Trade

the coffee:

The aroma of the El Salvador Finca Malacara Tablon 2 is warm and inviting—not attention grabbing, but enticing. Notes of caramel, rose hips, nuts, and cane sugar.

The flavor of this cup kicks off with sweets and herbs. It has a light molasses mouthfeel that sits on the palate for a moment before lazily spilling onto the sides of the tongue. Cane sugar and ginger root sprinkles over notes of mildly syrupy root beer.

As the temperature of the cup begins its descent to room temperature, the coffee gets ever so slightly fruity, crusty, and savory. Bittersweet black grape (or fermented grape juice) acidity bubbles up and drives itself into the sides of the cheeks; this is not an overpowering or even a formidable acidity, mind, rather it’s mellow and understated. Having said that, however, it serves as a great complement to the body and the flavors in the cup.

In addition to this grapy acidity, I’m also picking up notes of banana cream pie, Nilla wafers, macadamia, and a slightly astringent roasted nuttiness that creates a bit of a dry finish.

Light body; light molasses mouthfeel; grape acidity; dry finish.

the bottom line:

This coffee, the El Salvador Finca Malacara B, Tablon 2 from Barefoot Coffee Roasters, truly wrecked my brain; it really did me in. I brewed it a half dozen times, every which way, cupped it, slurped it, let it sit and cool, held it on my tongue; no matter what I did, no matter how I did it, it didn’t matter—it came out tasting under extracted every time.

So I let it sit for a few days before coming back. After letting it de-gas a little bit more, letting it get acclimated to its new environment, letting its flavor develop just a little bit longer, the coffee suddenly came to life and presented me with a cup full of really unique flavors (like ginger, root beer, grape juice, and banana cream pie).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is actually a revision of what I wrote about this coffee a few days ago—I didn’t have much positive to say about it. But now I’ve recognized the error of my ways, and have learned that sometimes, as a reviewer, I need to practice a little more patience. This is a fine coffee; it doesn’t immediately grab your attention, to be sure, but it does have a lot of really unique things happening in the cup.

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