Dark Matter Coffee has been a longtime partner of Federico Pacas – one of the most internationally renown coffee producers in Central America. In fact, their relationship with Federico Pacas is the oldest farming partnership for Dark Matter Coffee. The Pacas family is known throughout the coffee industry as royalty, with genetics, processing techniques that are second to none. Federico Pacas owns Cafe Tuxpal, a mill that processes his farms Santa Petrona, San Jose, Vista Hermosa in addition to other neighboring farms.
One of those other farms that falls under the Cafe Tuxpal umbrella is Finca Las Marias, which is located in Santa Ana, El Salvador. The lot has a low elevation, sitting at about 1000 meters above sea level, and includes about 18 hectares of Pacas varietals planted in 2012, as well as some San Pacho plants, which are intelligently used to mitigate wind damage and act as a first line of defense against spread of disease.
The Pacas genetic was actually discovered on a nearby farm, Santa Petrona, by the Pacas family as a spontaneous Bourbon gene mutation. This genetic mutation makes the Pacas coffee plant more susceptible to Roya (coffee rust). To protect the plants from winds that carry Roya, Pacas is grown in valleys lined by the resilient and stalky San Pacho coffee plants.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re cupping the El Salvador Finca Las Marias, from Dark Matter Coffee Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Santa Ana, El Salvador
farm: Finca Las Marias
producer: Federico Pacas
elevation: 1000 meters above sea level
The aroma of the Finca Las Marias is pretty unique, and a little complex to boot. I’m having some difficulty identifying exactly what it is I’m smelling and I can’t tell if it’s because the individual scents are mashed together or if it’s because my brain can’t make sense of the scent combinations; I typically don’t encounter these aromas in the same coffee: purple flowers, earth, caramelized brown sugar, roasted almond, and tropical fruits.
Unfortunately, my first few sips of the coffee don’t really clear anything up for me—this coffee has a pretty wild flavor profile. It’s on the fuller side of a medium-bodied coffee with a soft, mildly syrupy mouthfeel. It’s a floral-forward coffee with flavors of violet and lavender at the forefront of each sip, and these notes are immediately followed by a somewhat gritty and spicy woody earthiness. As the cup cools it sweetens considerably as flavors of raw honey, pecan pie, Demerara, and a juicy melange of tropical fruits seep through the crust; mango, passion fruit, starfruit, pomegranate, orange peel… Even though these flavors are bright, I wouldn’t necessarily this has become bright or lively coffee; there’s still quite a bit of that gritty earthiness I was tasting at the front, and the coffee leaves a bit of a dry, astringent aftertaste (rather than a crisp, clean one). There’s also some heat and vanilla through the finish, reminiscent of dark, spiced rum.
Wow. Well. Right. What can I say here? All in all, the El Salvador Finca Las Marias was a very unique offering from Dark Matter Coffee. And considering how wild and unique Dark Mater coffees can be… That’s really saying something.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.