Producer: Johny Lemus
Harvest: January – March
Notes: Clementine, white chocolate, cherry liqueur
Known as the ‘land of volcanoes’ El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but its reputation among specialty-coffee-growing regions has grown larger-than-life, especially since the early 2000s. While coffee was planted and cultivated mostly for domestic consumption from the mid-1700s onwards, it grew to become a significant cash crop that contributed to more than half of the country’s GDP by the 1970s. However, it was the Cup of Excellence competition, which came to El Salvador in 2003, that heralded a new wave of interest in Salvadoran coffee.
Historically, the country’s top coffees have come from the west of the country but in 2007, a Chalatenango Pacamara won the Cup of Excellence bringing the northern region centre stage. Today, smallholder producers have diversified their stock of varieties to include microlots of SL-28, and Gesha alongside more classic more varieties such as Pacas, Pacamara and Bourbon. Producers apply rigorous cultivation and selective harvest techniques as well and a range of processing methods.
Johny Lemus grows both Pacas and Gesha varieties on the fertile, nutrient-rich volcanic soils of his three-hectare farm, San Antonio. He processes his coffee cherries on his farm using natural and washed processing techniques. Natural-process coffees are increasing in popularity in El Salvador, where the ripe coffee cherries are selectively picked and sorted for quality, then placed on raised beds or patios to dry for up to a month.
Sourced through our friends at Café Imports, they have a presence on the ground and work directly with smallholder producers throughout the year to offer sensory and agronomy support. On average, farms are small (roughly 3 between 10 hectares) and many producers grow classic Salvadoran varieties such as Pacas, Pacamara as well as Bourbon, but are beginning to experiment with other varieties such as this special microlot of Gesha.
Roasted lightly for filter, we love this coffee for its tangy clementine acidity with notes of cherry liquor that reminds us of the famous Portuguese drink, Ginginha! You can also expect a smooth milk chocolatey body and sweet, long-lasting finish.