Since the What’s Roasting #3 post a couple of weeks ago, I have roasted a further batch each of the El Salvador and Colombian bean varieties in an attempt to fine tune and unlock their best characteristics. Acknowledgement must go to Neil Atwood from Ministry Grounds, my green bean supplier for some great ‘real time’ twitter advice whilst the second batch was roasting.
The remainder of this post will concentrate on the El Salvador varietal, with the Colombian coming in the future.
The reason for the second roast so soon? Probably due to my expectations being fairly high as to the likely quality and flavour profile, and whilst the results of the initial batch were good, the second certainly was an improvement (lighter roast). Also, my tasting was done (as it often is) both via the Aeropress and a one shot 160 ml latte, both of which undersold the quality a little. Neil also advised he expected the El Salvador would struggle through milk.
Anyway, on with The Whack:
- Origin: El Salvador
- Region: Cerro Verde
- Altitude: 1498m
- Processing: Fully washed, patio dried
How: Latte, Aeropress, Espresso
Dry Aroma – notes of citrus and a little spice
Milk Course – Although it fights hard to be noticed, using this blend in your morning latte definitely does not do it justice. Just not enough body to hold your attention. Definitely a good example of horses for courses.
Aeropress – Definitely better here. The notable acidity pushes forward the citrus flavours, with syrupy undertones on the finish. As usual, the flavours are foremost as the brew cools.
Espresso – Of the three tasting methods here, this is where this variety does its best work (depending on your body vs acidity preference – read further on this below). Extracting this through an espresso machine will give you the best example of the smooth, subtle flavours. The notable acidity brings through citrus type flavours, with a syrup like finish. Given the variety is quite subtle, the concentrated form of an Espresso seems to be the sweet spot.
Be warned however, if you are after a punch of body, it still won’t be found here – for some this may be a negative, however I don’t see this as necessarily the case if your tastes are not crying out for this. Personally, I like it, though can see when used in a blend with a variety providing more body (which is what I plan to do), may appeal to those who find it a little wanting on its own. My favourite barista (herself Italian) who taste tested, called it as she saw it – needing more body:
…you know, like a good Italian woman, she’s got the curves…, she’s strong, she’s got a lot to offer. Not skinny and light, she’s got the body. She’s got real…
I can’t remember the rest as my mind wandered somewhere else – but you get the picture. Some will just like more body in their Espresso. And evidently their women?
Thinking more on this, I would refer you to an excellent article on A History of Acidity in Coffee, which is also featured in this months issue of BeanScene Magazine. Here it is recommended we should acknowledge and embrace the different flavour profiles in coffee, both the more recent trend towards higher acidity espresso and the more traditional full-bodied, low acid type:
Personally, I’m not against this as a style of espresso as some people may think, but it really demonstrates just one style of espresso.
Conclusion; Know This:
Upon review, the El Salvador is definitely a reminder on the merits of a wide range of tasting methods. As I outlined in a very early post on my reviewing system, the assessment of my roasting results is not based on the standard ‘cupping’ methods used to formally assess taste quality by those more expert than myself. This is a conscious decision, as taste for me will always be a result of how I brew and drink each variety on a day-to-day basis.
Despite recent trends in my coffee drinking habits, future reviews will include as many brewing varieties as I have available to me to avoid missing a method that may showcase the full potential of a particular origin. So, as far as this El Salvador lot is concerned, as an origin, it is certainly made for drinking on its own, in a shorter rather than a longer brew. I am looking forward to experimenting with this variety in some blending to achieve a greater balance between the acidity on offer whilst adding some body to the mix.
Overall Rating: 4/5Follow @petedenison