by David Pohl
We are in full “Central America” mode this month, with many exciting arrivals. Overall quality is on par or up from last crop, surprising us because of the lousy weather Central America experienced. Conditions were cool and we were told many regions were noticing inconsistent growth. While some of the earlier samples we received were perhaps a little off their mark, the coffee rolling into our warehouses in June showed pleasant acidity, chocolate and complexity.
Central America is on the forefront of the specialty coffee industry, producing some of the best, cleanest, highest
ranking coffees in the world. They are often overshadowed by fruity Africans or earthy Indonesians, but these “milds” as they are sometimes called in the industry, are top coffees in their own right. Take for instance the Panama Esmeralda Geisha, which has consistently garnered 1st or 2nd place at international cuppings for a number of years now. It has proven itself as one of the world’s best coffees, and nobody doubts that at this point. We are offering the Esmeralda Geisha in August (order now if you want any – very limited supply, $40/pound) but in the meantime we have some other outstanding new micro-lot and relationship Centrals to offer, at a much more affordable price-point.
These coffees find themselves in the upper reaches of quality, largely due to the a number of innovations taking place in Central America, such as the Cup of Excellence and the idea of microlots; experimentation with “micromills” that give farmers direct control over quality during processing; the adoption of new varietals, chosen for quality rather than yield, and the revival of heirloom varietals; and new packaging solutions that employ a hermetic seal or vacuum packaging, replacing or complementing the jute bags of old.
These and other innovations have taken Central American coffee to a higher level of quality and consistency. Enjoy!
Costa Rica Montes de Oro Micro Lot
Micro region: San Pablo de Leon Cortes
Producers: Emilio and Laura Gamboa, Montes de Oro
Altitude: 1650 meters
Varietals: Caturra, Typica
Cost: $13.95 Order Online or Call 1-800-809-7687
Background: This is a micro-lot specially prepared for Equator Coffees. The Gamboa family is at the forefront of
boutique micro-lots tailored to the tastes of individual customers. They are able to custom mill their coffee using a
“micro-mill,” a new form of technology that allows each farmer to completely process all of his coffee directly on his farm. Prior to this, coffee milling was more centralized, with farmers paying someone else to mill their coffee. With the dissemination of affordable technologies, coffee milling has become more localized, and quality and innovation have improved.
Cupping Notes: Citrus and cereal aromatics. In the cup sweet lemon and toasted grain. The acidity is open, not
sharp. Body is medium.
El Salvador Santa Adeleida Organic
Region: Central Growing Region
Micro region: 30 minutes SW of San Salvador
Producers: 180 member collectively farm association
Altitude: 1200-1350 meters above sea level
Varietals: Bourbon, Pacas
Cost: $13.95 To Order Call 1-800-809-7687
Background: This is the second year Equator has offered Santa Adeleida. We were blown away by the unique cup
characteristics of this coffee when we received a sample last year, and for a few Equator customers it became their
favorite coffee of the year. While this isn’t a micro lot per-se, it is clearly a coffee grown with great care and
consideration. Santa Adeleida was at one time a large family owned finca, but was broken up in 1982 during the land reform program and sold to the families that worked the farm. The farm is 350 acres and is collectively run by 180 members from over 50 families. It is both organic and Rainforest Alliance certified.
Cupping Notes: Fresh, lemon fragrance. In the cup, beautiful bell-like,crisp acidity, clean and clear all the way through the finish. Medium-light body,
Nicaragua Aldea Global Fair Trade Organic
Region: Nueva Segovia
Micro region: San Luis, Las Pavas, El Consuelo, La Fraternidad
Altitude: 1200-1500 meters
Varietals: Catura and Catuai
Cost: $12.95 Order Online or Call 1-800-809-7687
Background: Equator has bought from Aldea Global for 9 years and has a very close relationship with the managers and members of the cooperative. Last year Equator loaned Sopegsa, the sub-cooperative that provides our coffee, $3000 to improve processing facilities. The newly landed crop is wonderful, having benefitted, we think, from the new drying patios and washing tanks. We are grateful to Aldea and Sopegsa for all of their hard work and dedication over the years and look forward to further investments in the coffee community there.
Cupping Notes: The dry fragrance is reminiscent of toasted grain. The flavor is dominated by sweet acidity and cereal notes. Medium-light body.
For August we will be offering the following featured coffees: Guatemala El Carmen Micro Lot (due to arrive mid-July), Panama Esmeralda Geisha (ETA July 25, very limited availability – call today if interested), and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Koke Farms (ETA mid-July).