A few weeks ago I made a long overdue return visit to some of my favorite guys and gals in Chicago at Star Lounge Coffee Bar.
Before I left, after chatting with Jesse and his gang of ragtag merrymakers, they offered me a few different coffees that we’re going to be reviewing this week.
That’s right! This week is Dark Matter Coffee Week! And I couldn’t be more excited to dip into the first package—it’s one that we actually tried last year following Dark Matter’s field trip to El Salvador and really liked.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of El Salvador Rosario Pacamara, from Dark Matter Coffee Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Today’s offering comes to us from the department of Santa Ana, located in El Salvador. It’s a pretty small town, being only inhabited by about 8,500 people. Of that small population, though, there is a very prominent family in the El Salvadorian coffee industry represented: the Pacas family.
Finca El Rosario is one of a few farms owned by Federico Pacas, his sister Lily, and their father. Another high-profile farm of theirs is called Finca Santa Petrona – the second oldest finca for the cultivation of the Pacas variety, and the site of the oldest Pacas trees in production in the world.
How’s that for a feather in their cap?
Origins: Santa Ana, El Salvador
Farms: Finca El Rosario
Elevation: 1350 meters above sea level
Process: fully washed, patio dried
Pacamara coffee seems to be a product of El Salvador, so I think it’s only fitting that for this series of exclusive reviews, we start with El Rosario’s Pacamara. According to an explanation of varietals, by Stumptown Coffee Roasters:
Pacamara is a hybrid seed varietal of the Pacas and Maragogype seed strains…Bean size of this varietal is very large, like its Maragogype predecessor. Pacamara tends to exhibit better cup quality when produced at higher elevations. The flavor profile can be outstanding demonstrating sweet citric notes, outstanding balance and floral attributes.
The aroma of this coffee, then, seems to be pretty typical of Pacamaras—it’s sweet, full-bodied, brimming with notes of flora, nuts, and sweet citrus. Rose hips, salted nuts, apple, and tangerine.
The flavor, though—wow. To say that this coffee is vegetal is an understatement—this coffee tastes exactly like a freshly cut green pepper. While it’s still piping hot, this dominant bell pepper flavor is accompanied by a hint of salted nuttiness—not sweet like a peanut, more toned down like a cashew. It has some really nice herbal qualities to it, like cloves and bergamot, and a spicy, burnt orange peel zing that tingles the back of the tongue.
As the cup cools a bit, these side flavors start to come out a little bit more. The thing that surprises me most about this coffee, though, is the mouthfeel and the finish—it’s so sweet, creamy, and lavender-like, and it coats the whole palate with notes of caramel and vanilla. However, it also a pretty noticeable astringency to it, leaving behind a kind of “cotton mouth” feeling that is typical of Earl Grey tea.
Medium body; lavender mouthfeel; malic acidity; astringent and lingering aftertaste.
the bottom line:
Albert Menendez’s Finca El Rosario, from Dark Matter Coffee Company, is quite the coffee. Totally unlike any coffee I’ve ever had before. I’ve had coffees that are vegetal—but this is vegetal. I’ve had coffees that tasted grassy, or even like radish, but this… It was like I had gone to the farmer’s market and bit into a crisp, freshly picked green pepper—so incredibly unique. Don’t hear me wrong—I’m not saying that it was unpleasant or anything like that; I quite liked it. I’ve just never tasted anything like it before.
If you’re looking for a coffee that’s going to provide your taste buds with an entirely different experience, look no further—Dark Matter Coffee Company‘s Finca El Rosario Pacamara has got what you need.