El Salvador—Barista Trip

Talking about earthquakes almost certainly causes them, that is now my belief.  After discussing the earthquake in Mexico City yesterday, we were treated to multiple tremors in San Salvador last night.  But all in good fun.  I am currently traveling with our very own Lauren of Public Domain coffee to visit our Direct Trade producers in El Salvador.  We are both California girls, so the tremors did not faze us, and we were rearing to go this morning.

Guillermo picked us up and we immediately set off for Ahuachapan to meet up with Mama and Papa Menendez to get to the Piedra Grande mill.  This is Lauren’s first trip to coffee origin, so it was fun to fill her in on all of the things that we usually take for granted: the names of the volcanoes, the smell of flowering coffee trees, and the undeniable stench of coffee cherry compost.

We arrived at Piedra Grande around noon and Miguel Sr. treated us to a brief tour of the mill from cherry to green exportable coffee.  The last picking was completed last Sunday, so the mill is much quieter than usual, and only a few lots of coffee were left drying on the warm volcanic clay ground.  After the tour we got to cup some great lots of coffees, the first table was a composite of bourbon coffees that have had a couple of months to settle, and the difference between January and March was incredible, and the wonderful chocolate and berry notes are really singing now.  Our second table, in Lauren’s honor, was different lots of Las Delicias Pacamaras.  These four lots were different pick dates and plots (3 from the front of the mountain and one from the back) and the coffees were really great.  There was one real standout coffee, the highest Las Nubes lot, that sparkled with peach, berry, and chocolate flavors.  Lauren and I both agree that this will be an awesome coffee for Coffee Bean International! The Pacamaras had only been resting for around 4 weeks on average, so these will only get much better with a little more time.

One delicious lunch and catnap later, we were on our way to visit Las Delicias farm.  Lauren used the Las Delicias coffee in her competition for the Northwest Regionals, so she was pretty well filled in on the farm already, but it was awesome for her to get to see everything that before she had only studied from my trip reports! Armed with an altitude meter and Miguel’s monster truck, we trekked up top to Las Nubes and walked down through all of the manzanas of Pacamara plants.  The trail is as rough as ever, but we recorded no serious falls, a first for the walk down Las Delicias for me I am pretty sure! Lauren really enjoyed the trip, and it was so wonderful to be with her as she experienced a coffee farm firsthand!

After Las Delicias, we spent a couple of hours driving through their other nearby farms San Antonio and Santa Barbara before we headed back down to the mill.  Lauren was able to see at least the dry mill in action as the workers worked overtime, sorting coffee to get the remaining containers bagged and exported.  The vibe on the farm was as jovial as usual, if not eerily quiet without the monster of a wet mill spitting out triple washed bourbons all night!

Now we are back in the peaceful retreat of the Menendez’s house in Ahuachapan, waiting for our sweet, sweet pupusas, tamales and refried beans for dinner.

Hasta Manana!

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