I’m diving further and further down into the rabbit hole.
A couple weeks ago I received the January MistoBox—MistoBox is a monthly coffee subscription service that sends a box with four bags of coffee right to your doorstep.
The first review of coffees in this box was the Finca El Puente, from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of coffee from Finca El Manzano, entitled “Groove,” by Elemental Coffee Roasters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Finca El Manzano is a family owned and operated Rainforest Alliance certified farm on the slopes of the Santa Ana Volcano. The plantation is now owned by Margarita Diaz de Lopez, great granddaughter of the founder, and the operation is immaculately run by Emilio Lopez Diaz, whose unwavering commitment to systems and technique make his farm a market leader for El Salvador.
The family also operates Topeca Coffee, which has roasteries both on the farm (for the local market) and in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This gives them first hand knowledge of the final product and how their coffee performs in the market. Daily cupping sessions of every lot also ensures their production is meeting their strict quality targets.
Emilio is also well known in the Specialty Coffee world for his microlot experiments in processing and picking. El Manzano was originally planted with one hundred percent Typica. Because of its low yield it was substituted for the Bourbon variety in the 1950s. Since 2004 new varieties have been added to these fields. About ninety percent remains exclusively the Bourbon variety but certain, well separated areas have been designated to other varieties like: Pacamara, Yellow Bourbon, Typica, and Kenya.
As well as fulfilling the duties required for Rainforest Alliance certification, Emilio also donates heavily to the Santa Ana schools.
origin: Santa Ana, El Salvador
farm: Finca El Manzano
elevation: 1300-1550 meters above sea level
certification: Rainforest Alliance
Elemental Coffee’s Groove starts off with a heavenly aroma. It is brimming with floral aromatics; violet petals, rose hips, cherry blossoms, and hibiscus tea leaves. Behind these more delicate scents are notes of raw cocoa, stone fruit, peanut butter, and cane sugar.
The first few sips of this coffee are light and airy; tea-like, really. Those floral aromatics of violet and rose hips that were so prevalent in the aroma are present here in the flavor as well. In addition to these lighter, delicate notes, there are hints of fruits present as well—stone fruits like peach and plum complement cherry blossoms and a mellow citrus acidity. The end of each sip finishes with a sprinkling of cane sugar and cinnamon.
When it cools off, it becomes a remarkably different cup of coffee.
Suddenly, instead of a tea-like, delicate, complex cup of coffee, it is now a big bowl of fruit punch. What’s more, it’s a very tart bowl of fruit punch. There are massive notes of white sugar and the body has become thick and syrupy. It has a very concentrated sweetness, lots of very vibrant tropical fruits like blackberry and raspberry, mango, tangerine, cherry, and a sharp lemonade acidity that swirls around the edges of the palate, washing everything clean and leaving behind a mild astringency. At the finish of each sip there is an amazing savoriness of buttered pie crust and bittersweet dark chocolate.
Medium body; syrupy mouthfeel; lemonade acidity; slightly dry finish.
the bottom line:
Groove, the coffee from Finca El Manzano and that was roasted by Elemental Coffee Roasters, is a superb cup with a lot of flavor and a lot of character. I’m not going to try describing this coffee with a lot of metaphors about it being swingin’ and groovy—I’ll leave that to the folks at Elemental; it suffices to say that Groove is incredibly sweet, very distinct, and it provides a very unique cupping experience. It is mildly complex, with an awful lot of flavors happening all at once, but it has also tremendous clarity that allows all of those flavors to have their individual moments. I have to agree with Elemental, however, that the real stars of the show are the body and the tremendous finish each sip possesses.
In the past, my experience with El Salvadoran coffees, particularly those from the Santa Ana region, has been, kinda sorta “meh.” As in: “Did you like this coffee?” “Meh.” These coffees never excited me; nor, however, did they disappoint me.
2013 might be the year, though, that I reconsider El Salvador—it’s only January and I’ve already had two coffees from El Salvador that wowed me (the review of the other will be coming soon).
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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.