Guatemala Finca El Pilar
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Metropolis Coffee interrupted a streak of Ethiopian coffees at the Table a couple weeks ago with a package of their newly-acquired Guatemala Finca El Pilar.

It provided a nice change of pace for a while, but the Finca El Pilar is once again rearing its head and making a second appearance in my kitchen!

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Guatemala Finca El Pilar, from Toby’s Estate Coffee in Brooklyn, New York. Feel free to pull up a chair.

Finca El Pilar is located in the mountain forests of Guatemala just outside Antigua. While it is a working coffee farm, most of the land is dedicated to conservation activities. This remarkably well-preserved natural reserve of endemic forest and wildlife is home to more than 130 species of birds. They are most well known for their hummingbirds; thriving thanks to a specially designed garden complete with feeders created especially for them.

You must cross a wooden footbridge to enter Finca El Pilar; from there you can traverse the infrastructure of rock and wooden paths all the way up to the cloud forest. To say this coffee is shade grown using bird friendly native trees would be an understatement. In fact, you can still find coffee growing wild amongst the pine and oak trees.

Finca El Pilar is a small paradise located in the mountain forests of Guatemala. Although it is a working coffee farm, only a small area is given over to production, with the rest being dedicated to conservation activities. It has an infrastructure of trails for bird watching, which spread through the farms coffee plantations as well as the mountain and cloud forest, pine and oaks. One of the main attractions on El Pilar farm is in the zone of hummingbird’s feeders where it is possible to spot a wide variety of species that inhabit the area. The farm is part of the Antigua Guatemala Important Bird Area

The farm prizes both conservation and ecotourism. While they’re setting aside pristine mountain habitat for wildlife, they also contribute to the community including providing it with clean water.

Although El Pilar is under the management category of a farm, it is dedicated more to conservation activities than production, with the exception of a small area of organic coffee. El Pilar also provides water to the nearby communities, and you will find there Cloud and Mountain Forest, with a large diversity of birds. An additional attribute is the nine hummingbird feeders, which make it possible to see as many as seven different species feeding at the same time.

the basics:

origin: San Juan Sacatepequez, Atitlan, Guatemala
farm: Finca El Pilar
producer: Juan Carlos Chen
elevation: 1500 – 1900 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Bourbon, Typica
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Organic, Antigua Guatemala Important Bird Area

the coffee:

The aroma of the Finca El Pilar provides some really pleasant scents of savory sweets—particularly cocoa and pastry—along with plenty of rose hips, cane sugar, and cherry blossom.

Mmmm… I am so impressed with the first few sips of this cup, in that it gets right to the point. Really fine, silky floral notes of rose hip grace the palate while lazy stream of juicy red apple, cane sugar, Tupelo honey flow in behind. There’s also an incredible cocoa and hazelnut mixture—much like a Pirouline cookie—that kicks up in the back, particularly in the finish.

As it cools, layers upon layers of flavors reveal themselves. That’s making nailing down its profile a little difficult—there’s just a lot happening. In one sip, I’ll get a big mouthful of pear/apple and coconut, the next will be squeezed lemon and honey, the next will be spices like cinnamon  and sugar, the next will be praline and hazelnut, and the next will be herbs like oregano and jasmine and chamomile. I think I even tasted a chocolate eclair somewhere in there.

It’s never the same sip twice.

Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.

the bottom line:

The Guatemala Finca El Pilar, from Toby’s Estate Coffee, is a complex coffee that really ranges the spectrum, both in terms of profile and “color”—it starts off red, then brown, then finishes fluctuating somewhere between green and yellow.

However, even though from sip to sip it’s herbal and spicy and floral, it is a sugary sweet coffee overall, with cocoa and hazelnut providing much of the cup’s backbone.

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