Central American coffees are among my favourites when it comes to single origins. And this is another El Salvador, which I adore: a 100% red bourbon varietal, this El Borbollon is a delight to roast. With dark chocolate notes and nectarine aftertaste, it makes a delightful pour-over. It has a bright "acidity" (liveliness in the cup), excellent balance and a buttery-mouthfeel. Altogether, a coffee that deserves your attention - so stand up and salute it.. a stunner!
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El Salvador – El Borbollon
Farm: La Reforma & Santa Maria
Varietal(s): 100% Red Bourbon
Processing: Fully washed and sundried on clay patios
Altitude: 1,400 to 1,500 metres above sea level
Owner: The Alvarez Family
Town: Santa Ana
Region: Santa Ana Volcano (Apaneca-Ilamatepec)
Country: El Salvador
Total size of farm: 55 hectares total
Area under coffee: 51 hectares total
Prizes: Reforma: 3rd – El Salvador COE, 2011
The Alvarez family has been growing coffee in El Salvador for a century and over four generations. Their award-winning farms are located on the lush green hills of Santa Ana, in the west of the country, whose rich volcanic soils and mild climate provide ideal conditions for growing coffee. The beans, which comprise El Borbollon, come from two small neighbouring farms - La Reforma and Santa Maria. They are manually picked and collected in traditional hand-woven baskets from December until March. Only the best, fully mature coffee cherries are selected.
Finca La Reforma and Finca Santa Maria were established by Rafail Alvarez in 1892 on the rich, humid slopes of Santa Ana Volcano. Originally from Colombia, Don Rafael came to the region with some of his best coffee seeds and began a new legacy of coffee production. Four generations later, the Alvarez Diaz brothers manage the farms, which are planted exclusively with red burbon variety coffee trees, despite recent upheavals with leaf rust.
El Borbollon mill is managed by Eduardo Alvarez, whose father passed down his technical skills. Of the 15 high-altitude farms, 10 have won places in the Cup of Excellence and 4, including La Reforma the COE Presidential Award for scores of over 90 points.
Coffee beans are pulped without water and then fermented for 16 - 20 hours until peel fermentation is achieved. The coffee is then washed in clean, fresh water to remove the mucilage. The parchment coffee is then placed onto the expansive patios and dried in the sun and regularly turned by hand.
Clay patios are used as they have superior endothermic properties (absorption of heat) than concrete and thus regulate temperature much better. The coffee beans are dried for 9 to 10 days in this way and the slower drying time seems to improve the cup quality.
The meticulous attention to detail shown at every stage of production - from harvesting to wet milling to cupping - has enabled the family to continue through the struggles of the past 20 years.