It was that morning on a commute from US to Bolivia through El Salvador when we met up with our friend Ernesto Melendez for a coffee. This is when he told me that he had separated the SL28 to the Bourbon to us this year. This I've been asking and longing for the previous two years. Thank you, Ernesto!
In the video below Ernesto is presenting the two varietals at our last visit. He is telling the story of the farm and showing you how the plants are different, the cherries are different and some farming techniques he is applying at Los Andes. Ernesto has had Los Andes since 2009.
Los Andes is a very interesting coffee produced by an outstanding coffee producer. Ernesto Menéndez is a well known name in the coffee industry. He has won The Cup of Excellence several times. In 2010 he competed with Los Andes, however his brother won that year and Los Andes placed fifth. We are proud to have this coffee from Ernesto Menéndez. The last two year we have had all the coffee growing at the farm as a mix, but this year Ernesto have separated the SL28 to the Bourbon for us. This means you can taste the two very unique taste profiles from Los Andes that been growing side by side at the farm.
Drop Coffee and Los Andes
This year we have bought coffee from three of Ernesto's farms, however Los Andes is exclusively Drop coffee. It's on about 4 hectares which is a bigger size for Drop at the moment but we find it worth taking a little more of this coffee, for the clear cooperation between Drop Coffee and Los Andes. Ernesto holds a lot of knowledge and has been very communicative. Walking the farm together with him is like opening a true treasure, he holds so much knowledge and skills from the agriculture, processing and to the cupping table.
Visiting Ernesto at Los Andes, January 2017.
The Bourbon varietal at Los Andes
Los Andes has quite an interesting story. Almost 60-70 years ago, the previous owner of the farm planted SL28 trees on the land which he had taken home from a hunting trip in Kenya. Normally the trees we're buying from are about 12-20 years old, and although it takes a lot of maintenance.
Side by side the Bourbon varietal is growing, there trees are even older, coming up to 80 years. Bourbon coffee was first produced in Reúnion, which was known as Île Bourbon before 1789. It was later taken by the French to mainland Africa and to Central America. The taste profile of Bourbon is one that I like the most in El Salvador, its mature sweetness matches the slightly bigger mouthfeel that is typical for the country.
As every coffee farm these plants are unique. At Los Andes everything is left to grow "wild" to create a more wild forest environment. The plants that age and the natural forest environment that Ernesto are looking after the plants by makes it really special.
80 years old Bourbon tree at Los Andes
The SL28 ( to the left) are big and shiny and shaped more like M&M candy than the smaller and more rounded Bourbon (to the right).
Producer: Ernesto Menéndez
Location: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range, Santa Ana
Varietal: Bourbon and SL28, separated
Picking period: April 2017
Processing: Fully washed, being Ernestos favourite process for the Los Andes to present the clarity in the cups.