Our product pages now reflect additional information about the coffees we offer. We do this because we want you to be an informed consumer.
The extra information includes the country of origin, the region within the country, the producer (or farm), the elevation of the farm, the processing technique used and finally the specific tasting notes associated with the coffee. Read on for a break-down of each section.
Producer: Finca El Molino
Country: El Salvador
Region: Santa Ana
Process: Washed Process
Elevation: 1300 - 1500 meters
Tasting Notes: Floral, citrus with a caramel finish
Different farmers use different techniques for processing their coffees. Some may have more resources to devote to their coffee trees, which allows them to experiment with micro lots, different cultivars (cultivated or hybrid plant varieties), different processing techniques, etc. As farmers become known for great coffee, they get better prices for it and can then turn additional resources towards more improvement. Maybe someday we'll see celebrity farmers like we see celebrity chefs!
Each coffee-producing country has a unique climate and soil composition that affects the flavor of the coffee. The entire system; the climate, the soil, etc is collectively called the terroir and the terroir is one of the key defining characteristics of a coffee. For example, coffees from east Africa are known for the unique fruity and floral notes they display, while coffees from Sumatra are known for their earthiness.
Within countries, different regions have unique environments as well. There may be drastic differences in the amount of rain and sun farms get on either side of a mountain. There can also be drastic elevation differences -- and we'll talk more about elevation in a moment. Different regions may even have different processing techniques that can alter the taste of a coffee.
There are three commercially viable species of coffee plant; coffea Arabica, Canephora (robusta), and Liberica. Arabica represents 60 - 80% of the world's production and is the highest quality of the three. Arabica is further broken down into thousands of varietals (natural variants) and cultivars (cultivated or man-made variants) such as Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, etc. As you explore various varietals and cultivars you'll find that some are better than others.
There are several ways to process ripe coffee cherries and these processes have different effects on the quality, flavor, and aroma of the final coffee. The two most important factors in bean quality, flavor and aroma are beautiful red, ripe cherries and proper drying. If either of these factors is sub-par, the coffee will suffer.
The two main processing types have the following characteristics:
Wet process: clean, clarity, acidity.
Dry process: sweetness, body, fruitiness. But with unique risks; fermentation, rot and mold.
It's important to know that beyond seed development, you can't add sweetness, only accentuate it.
Coffee trees love hot days, cool nights, and high elevations. Trees soak up energy all day in order to grow in the cool night. With the higher elevations you get less oxygen, forcing the plants to grow slower and use water and starch to create a more densely-packed coffee bean. This helps attribute to a higher quality coffee.
This section is relatively self-explanatory. I provide a few of the key aromas and flavors that define a specific coffee. You may not pick up on all of them and you may experience some that I didn't. That is one o the great things about coffee; it's such a complex food (more complex than wine even!) that two people can have remarkably different experiences with the same coffee.
I hope all of this information will be useful to you and will enrich your coffee experience!