One of the happiest days in my coffee career was the day I discovered CREMA during a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Since then, over the past year, the folks at CREMA and I have forged a solid professional friendship.
Speaking of professional friendships, CREMA’s roasting operation recently took a huge step forward by pursuing direct or relationship sourced coffees instead of working through an importer.
To celebrate that milestone, CREMA sent me four coffees that represent their sourcing efforts. So far, we’ve tried the incredible Guatemala Las Aguas Altas and the unique Yemen Al-Maghariba. We’re switching gears today and tomorrow and heading to El Salvador.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re a sipping a cup of El Salvador Finca Las Delicias, from CREMA in Nashville, Tennessee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Finca Las Delicias is located near Ahuachapán, in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. Miguel grows both the very traditional Bourbon Arabica and Pacamara, a highly exciting variety. Pacamara originates in El Salvador where the coffee trees produce fantastically large, attractive beans from their cherries. However, the trees are low yielding and the cherries difficult to process due to their size.
Pacamara trees are happiest at higher altitudes—it must be at least 1000 metres above sea level—so Miguel Menendez grows this slow ripening coffee at the highest points of his Las Delicias farm (up to 1750 metres above sea level).
The coffee here grows underneath the forest canopy and all of the farm and milling activities focus on environmental and social sustainability – natural habitats are preserved, water courses and resources protected, measures undertaken to minimise erosion and waste coffee skins composted for fertiliser. Workers are also provided with housing and sanitation.
The soil of the farm is Franco volcanic, ideal for cultivating coffee. The average rainfall there is of 2,000 mm per year.
The farm is Denomination of Origin and Rain Forest certified. The Denomination of Origin certification was acquired on 2010, and the Rain Forest Alliance certification was acquired in 2003. This seal requires that the farm protect the echo system, encompassing wild life and native forest, as well as the echo friendly managing of the coffee plantation. Biological and natural practices are used to complement foliar and soil fertilizations, as well as controlling illnesses, minimizing the use of chemicals. During the last Rain Forest Alliance yearly evaluation, Las Delicias acquired a grade of 94.95%
origin: Apaneca-Ilamatepeq, El Salvador
farm: Finca Las Delicias
elevation: 1300 – 1400 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Rainforest Alliance, Denomination of Origin
Finca Las Delicias’s aroma greets the nose with a decadent aroma of dark chocolate, vanilla, orange blossoms, and graham crackers.
The cup starts off with a beautiful bittersweet dark chocolate flavor. CREMA refers to this as a 75% dark chocolate bar and I fully agree with that tasting note; some coffees have a creamy dark chocolate texture that coats the palate, some have more of a raw cocoa nib texture that feels like a light dusting—Finca Las Delicias has that chocolate bar texture that sort of breaks off in chunks bite after bit. Instead of coating the entire palate or even dusting it, it’s more like that dark chocolate flavor pops up in a couple different places on the tongue—the tip, the sides, and the back in particular.
As it starts to cool off, some baking spices (cumin, mild cinnamon, and plenty of cane sugar) begin to come forward, tickling the tip of the tongue and ushering in dried fruit flavors of raisin, plum, and papaya.
At room temperature caramel and pistachio start showing up in the finish of each sip. I’m also picking up notes of graham cracker, cherry, toasted coconut, sea salt, and orange dreamsicle. More impressive, though, is the low-end naval orange acidity that swirls around the bottom of the cup, up the sides of it, then spills onto the palate, washing all of the flavors up front down with it.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
With notes of dark chocolate, bakers spices, sea salt, and dried fruits, CREMA’s El Salvador Finca Las Delicias really lives up to its name—this coffee is delicious.
It’s a moderately delicate coffee, beautifully flavored, it’s perfectly balanced, and its acidity simply glistens, sparkles, and shines.
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