In April Will was invited to San Salvador to judge the National Quality competition, an event organised by the specialty coffee board of El Salvador which recognises and rewards the best coffee produced in the country each year. To win this contest is the ultimate ambition for coffee farmers there. It can transform lives, conferring the status of coffee celebrity on the victors.
Over 1000 samples were submitted and these were whittled away to a mere 100. These then went before an international jury of twenty experienced coffee buyers, who, like Will, had flown in from across the globe. Only 23 lots reached the exacting standards of the judges, won an award and got the opportunity to be in an international auction a few weeks later. La Laguna was one of the winners - and he felt he just had to buy it for Pact customers.
Since Will started working in coffee he has always loved the unique flavour profile that comes from the Pacamara variety. Pacamara is a hybrid variety native to El Salvador which is only grown in small quantities elsewhere in Central and South America. The larger beans mean that it is possible to develop rich caramel notes during the roast process while also preserving the vibrant tropical fruit flavours - think grilled pineapple.
In the case of La Laguna, farmer Gonzalo Antonio Ticas Reyes has used the honey process to develop the sweetness of this coffee further, keeping the acidity under control. This is a tricky thing to get right.
It takes a coupleof weeks of painstakingly drying the beans in small batches. Individually the Pacamara variety and the process are rarely found in the coffee world, so finding a delicious example like this in which they have been combined is a real treat!
The coffee is elegant and complex with lovely lychee and mango flavours. You’ll pick up a sweetness like fresh ripe fruit and honey alongside a more syrupy mouthfeel. If you don’t usually drink your coffee black give it a go with this one.
Our preferred method to make the perfect La Laguna brew would be clever dripper or aeropress. We’d do a slightly longer brew than normal - about 25% longer - to make sure I’d got all the subtle flavours out while not risking over-extraction and bitterness. This is not a big, bold coffee and so we would very much drink it on its own. It’s one to sip and savour.
There’s a good reason this coffee won an international quality award – it’s phenomenal. Enjoy!