It’s Christmas time so we thought we should have some fun! We have brought home coffee from San Cayetano in El Salvador that has been processed in three different ways. The Yellow Honey, Washed and Natural processes will each highlight different aspects of the coffee. This is the washed version of the coffee, meaning that the outer skin, pulp and mucilage surrounding the beans has bean removed before fermenting and drying the beans. The washed San Cayetano brings out a juicy cup with notes of apple cider and milk chocolate, with a fizzy citric finish.
About Rafael and Carmen Silva Hoff
This coffee is from Rafael and Carmen Silva Hoff who are based in Ahuachapán in Santa Ana. The couple has a processing station, Sicafe, where they process coffee for surrounding farmers. Carmen is doing all of the logistics not only for our purchases but also for other farmers for whom they process coffee. At the processing station, Rafael is working hands-on for several hours each day, but the turnout at the processing station is also of a higher standard than we've seen elsewhere in El Salvador, e.g they have a separate room for the crew to sit and have lunch and rules about washing their hands and hygiene around the coffee. Staff onsite also only turn the coffee by hand, log the moisture at different stages of the drying process, and have access to a great cupping lab with a well-trained crew in taste and routines.
With Rafael and Carmen, while visiting San Cayetano 2015
About San Cayetano
This coffee is from Carmen and Rafaels farm, called San Cayetano. It’s located in extremely steep and windy conditions where the leaves get blown right off the trees, making them weaker and less productive. The neighbouring farms to San Cayetano are suffering badly from leaf rust which can easily be transferred to the plants at San Cayetano by the wind. For these reasons, the yield has been lower the last couple of years. But Rafael and Carmen have built more windbreakers to shield their plants and the manager of the farm, Marco Roudrigues, has put in a lot of effort and many hours applying sulphate and fertilizers. Visiting the farm earlier this year it was more lush and had a much larger crop. Last year they had a lot of the farm that was badly affected by the roja and Marcos have applied opera and zink (helps the leaves). They also apply natural organic fertiliser made at the farm. San Cayetano looks really healthy and lush.
Marco Roudriguez weighing in todays picking, March 2017
Farm manager Marco Roudrigues and Joanna Alm, San Cayetano 2017
About the varietal Red Bourbon
The Red Bourbon trees are fairly tall and have thinner spines. Every year Rafael talks about planting Caturra instead of Red Bourbon at San Cayetano. The Caturra is shorter and bolder and would be more resistant to the wind. But Rafael loves the flavour characteristics of the Red Bourbon. In general in El Salvador I think the different kinds of Bourbon taste very sweet and complex.
The Bourbon varietal was first discovered on the Bourbon Island, hence the name, and has been spread and is now grown all over the coffee growing world. Originating maybe on the island of Bourbon or perhaps Ethiopia, this varietal has many sub-varietals: Yellow-, Orange -and Red Bourbon. Because of its generally low yield, Bourbon tends to produce a very high-quality cup (there is evidence that the lower the yield the higher the quality as the plant can use its energy more efficiently). Typical cup characteristics for Red Bourbon in El Salvador are a low-medium body, balanced, chocolatey, low-medium acidity with a typically sweet profile; this is a very general description of course.
Red Bourbon freshly picked at San Cayetano.
About the washed process
This is the washed version of the coffee, meaning that the outer skin and pulp surrounding the beans have been removed before fermenting and drying the coffee. The pulp is first removed by a pulper before being washed and graded in channels. Then the coffee is fermented for 12h (depending on the weather) and dried manually on raised beds for over ten days. At the process station, they use moister reader throughout the drying, speeding the drying up in the early stage and slowing it down towards the end of the drying. All coffee is turned by hand in a set program for the movement.
Drop Coffee and San Cayetano
This was the first natural processed coffee we brought in from El Salvador. For the last few years we have had it as Christmas Coffee. Cupping the coffees at Sicafes lab this year I totally fell in love with the washed process and the yellow honey and couldn't resist taking all of them. This means that we have three Christmas Coffees this year instead of one!
Carmen Silva and Joanna Alm and a box of last years Christmas Coffee
Producer: Rafael and Carmen Silva Hoff
Farm: San Cayetano
Process station: Sicafe
Region: Ahuachapán , Santa Ana
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Picked: February to March 2017
Process: Washed and dried on raised bed
Elevation: 1550 masl
Flavour description: A juicy cup with a medium body. Notes of apple cider and milk chocolate, with a fizzy citric finish.