El Salvador Orange Bourbon

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Many mysteries exist in the world of coffee. One of the mysteries that seems to unravel a little bit every year is the number and types of varietals that are discovered or engineered. It seems that variations of traditional varietals are discovered constantly, adding to the great diversity of coffee experiences in the world of specialty coffee.

We can be a part of this discovery process with the coffee that we’re cupping today.

A couple weeks ago, I received a care package in the mail from the SOCAL-based Klatch Coffee. This is the second coffee I’m reviewing from that package, the first being their Original Christmas blend.

This is a really unique coffee and I’m very eager to brew it, so let’s just get down to business.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are enjoying a cup of El Salvador Orange Bourbon, from Klatch Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.

The Orange Bourbon is a meticulously hand picked and processed coffee, developed at Finca El Molino—one of Santa Ana, El Salvador’s finest and most innovative coffee farms—and it has a really interesting history.

Several years ago, famed coffee producer and good friend of the Table, Aida Batlle, was working with Jose Antonio, owner of Finca El Molino, when they discovered this new, mysterious natural mutation on the Red Bourbon trees. At the time, it seemed like a lot of work for very little, if anything, in return.

Fortunately for us, she convinced Jose to separate this unique phenomenon and cup them for quality. The separation had begun and they have been farming the Orange Bourbon lot ever since.

the basics:

origin: Santa Ana, El Salvador
farm: Finca El Molino
elevation: 1300-1500 meters above sea level
cultivar: Orange Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried
certification: standard

the coffee:

The aroma of this cup is soft, subtle—but sweet. Maybe “sweet” isn’t the word… Fragrant is a much better term; maybe even perfumy. When the water hits the grounds, poof!, a gentle explosion of floral aromatics (cherry and orange blossom) takes up wings, fluttering between the nose and the cup. Mixed in are notes of powdery raw cocoa nibs, cane sugar, and orange soda.

The cup starts off equally subtle (and, spoiler alert, ends just as subtly)—the coffee doesn’t come exploding onto the palate. It quietly sneaks up on it, rather, oozing out of the mug with a raspberry syrupy mouthfeel; and this river of maple syrup kicks up flavor sediment from the bottom of the cup, carrying it downstream in its current—brown sugar, baker’s chocolate, vanilla cream, and clementine.

As the cup cools off, the flavor gets fruitier and more tropical (though not lively or bright, however), the mouthfeel melts from a thick syrupiness to a fruity juiciness, a mellow orange juice acidity bubbles just beneath the surface, seeping onto the palate and melting on the back of the tongue, but it doesn’t become prominent—it stays soft and subtle. There are an awful lot of fruits I’m picking up now, but, while they are moderately juicy and “big” on the palate (compared to the rest of the flavors I’m experiencing, they’re pretty mellow (again, I know—I promise to pick up a thesaurus soon to work on my descriptors): plum, cherry, apple, pear, and salted caramel that finishes off each sip.

Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; soft citrus acidity; clean finish; sparkling, lingering aftertaste.

the bottom line:

Klatch Coffee’s El Salvador Orange Bourbon is a true “connoisseur’s coffee”. By that I mean that the everyday consumer might not be as particularly enamored with this coffee as I was or you will be. It’s a purely refined and sophisticated brew that offers a sweet-floral aroma along with a soft and mellow flavor in the cup. Overall, it’s a bright and juicy coffee, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of body.

Even though this coffee is sweet and juicy and fruity, it’s equally soft and meek; you have to really spend time with it to fully understand it. Which is to be well expected from an El Salvadoran coffee.

It’s not complex—it’s just shy.

It took me a few tries to dial this one in perfectly, and even then I had to slurp it without distraction. But when I did finally get it right—when I gave it the attention it truly deserves—it really rewarded me.

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