This is Day 3 of our whirlwind tour-by-proxy of El Salvador. Chicago’s own Dark Matter Coffee Company recently returned from a coffee buying trip to the Latin America country and brought back samples from several different farms. Leading up to today, we got the opportunity to sip coffee from Finca El Rosario and Finca El Cashal; today, we’re climbing our way to some of the highest heights this part of El Salvador has to offer – up into the clouds even.
So, I hope you brought your hiking boots!
Ready to get a bird’s eye view of El Salvador? Feel free to pull up a chair.
Today’s coffee comes to us from Finca Las Nubes – or, “Farm in the Clouds” -, situated in the “Golden Belt” of western El Salvador. The name, though it seems grandiose, is fitting as the farm sits on the slopes of the massive San Salvador volcano, Quetzaltepec, an impressive peak that dominates the western side of San Salvador and reaches elevations of up to 1960 meters above sea level! Right in the middle of this peak, between 1200-1500 meters, is where Guillermo Castillo’s farm is.
Once part of a larger Altamira plantation, which was broken up into a number of smaller farms under agrarian reforms, Finca Las Nubes still works with, relies on, and shares generously with their neighboring farms. Blessed with mature shade trees, volcanic soil rich in phosphorous and potassium, refreshing winds, abundant rainfall, and ample sunshine, their old-style shade-grown Bourbon varietal is truly the quintessential Central American coffee.
Origins: San Salvador, El Salvador
Farms: Finca Las Nubes
Elevation: 1200-1500 meters above sea level (strictly high-grown)
Varietals: Bourbon, Pacas, Pacamara
Process: washed, patio-dried
Certifications: Direct Trade
There is a very distinct rose-like scent in the aroma; like rose hips in a chamomile tea. This somewhat forward rose petal, though, is accompanied by much fuller, bigger scents of hazelnut and maple.
The nuttiness and molasses-like syrupiness carry over into the flavor of the cup in a big way, but it’s nice to get whiffs of those rose hips every time I take a sip. The nuttiness is really interesting, as I wouldn’t really describe it with words like “almond” or “hazelnut” – it’s more like a nut-toned chocolate. Like Nutella. As the cup cools down a bit, a hint of fruitiness starts to come out, but nothing about it really captures my attention – it tastes great, but the fruit notes are very understated and mix well with the overall flavor of the coffee. I’m detecting hints of cranberry, maybe currants, a touch of orange peel perhaps? There’s certainly a citrus acidity that emerges more and more as the cup comes down to room temperature. What I really love most, though, is the mouthfeel – so silky and creamy-smooth.
Balanced acidity; silky, creamy mouthfeel; rich, deep finish that is clean, thinning in the end.
the bottom line:
Finca Las Nubes is a very solid offering from Dark Matter Coffee Company’s trip to El Salvador. I was impressed with the aroma, the flavor, and the body of this coffee. It’s lush and flavorful, with big flavors of cocoa, maple, hazelnut, and soft fruits, but it’s very quiet and has a polite humbleness about its personality. This is a true story: I prepared this coffee everyday for almost a week – sometimes two or three times a day – and, every time I drank it, I thought “This is pretty good.” But now that the coffee is gone, I really wish I had more of it waiting for me when I get home from work.
It isn’t until after you’ve sipped the very last drop from your cup that you realize “Wow – I haven’t had a coffee this good in a long time.”
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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.