Traditionally we have always worked with coffees from the Santa Ana region in the West of El Salvador, however following a trip there in February 2017, we stumbled across an amazing couple of producers in the northern region of Chalatenango which borders Honduras.
This coffee is rich and bold with a syrupy character, intense plummy flavours with hints of tangerine and marzipan. It is super versatile, working with almost any brew method.
When it comes to El Salvador, we have always looked to the region of Santa Ana in the West for the guaranteed supply of consistently high quality coffee. This is where a lot of the Cup of Excellence winning coffees will come from and most of the farms there are fairly large estates employing up to 400 pickers during the season. El Salvador has always been an important coffee producing origin for us being a main component of our house blend since starting North Star 4 years ago. In preparation for this year’s harvest, we started to look to other regions to understand the different flavour profiles available beyond the well known chocolate/hazelnut character. Through this process, we started to talk to Caravela who have export operations across Latin America. We were interested in finding a couple of smallholder producers who we could team up with for the long term. We needed producers who had the same principles as us with regards to social and environmental responsibility, their coffee did not need to be the best coming out of El Salvador, but it had to have the potential to be. For this to be a possibility, altitude and good soil are required alongside the determination to produce high quality coffee. The smallholder is relied upon for nearly all of these factors but it also requires the assistance of a specialty focused exporter who will maintain the quality throughout the supply chain and provide the education and knowhow with regards to best agronomic practice.
Fast forward a few months to February earlier this year and we found ourselves in the town of La Palma, Chalatenango in the north of the country meeting with smallholder farmers delivering their early lots to the collection points. Throughout the duration of the next three days, we cupped our way through around seventy lots of coffee seeking out potential with our spoons. This is how we came to find Alfonso Rodriguez and Leoncio Guillen, the two farmers who have contributed coffee to this lot known as ‘Chelazos’. Their coffee jumped off the table displaying outstanding balance and sweetness with real plummy notes and a soft, tangerine acidity. The next day we jumped back into the pick up truck for the hike up into the mountains into the town of Citala to meet them. Leoncio’s farm, Finca Las Toreros, was around seven hectares in size and was run solely by Leoncio himself who harvests and processes pretty much every single bean of his Pacas and Bourbon coffee. Alfonso’s smallholding was another seven hectare farm known as Finca Talquezar which means ‘sweet grass’ in reference to the fact it used to be a grazing spot for cattle. Both producers really impressed us with their love and commitment to coffee despite the extreme challenges of historically working in a volatile market alongside the uncertainty that now comes with climate change, pushing back harvest periods and resulting in deteriorating quality and yields. Both men expressed a desire to produce better coffee and having tasted where they are at now, we jumped at the chance to work with them. We therefore committed to purchasing the entirety of their specialty coffee production and will be investing in quality improvement methods such as raised drying beds going forwards. We are delighted with the coffee so far and have found it to have great character with notes of caramel, tangerine, plum and a hint of marzipan. It is super versatile and forgiving, suited to a wide range of brewing methods and flavour preferences – it is delicious both black and with milk and we really hope you enjoy giving it a try!
We are happy to say we are now able to dispatch orders on a daily basis from Monday to Friday. If your order is received before midnight, it should go out to you the next day using the Royal Mail First Class or DPD next day courier service depending on the weight of the parcel. If you place an order over the weekend, it will be packed and dispatched when the Roastery re-opens on a Monday.
If you have selected the Local Pickup option, this should be ready in our customer collection point in the North Star Coffee Shop and General Store by 5pm the day after you have placed your order. Opening hours can be viewed here along with information on parking and location. Unfortunately we cannot deliver your order to a local customer for you to collect from.
Once you have placed your order, you will receive an email to confirm it is being processed and then another one to let you know when it has been dispatched/is ready to collect.