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Mike in El Salvador 2011: Day 4

If I could sum up our final day in El Salvador it would be three words: Cupping, Cupping, Cupping. For those who know me, the best part of my job is cupping. Whether it is enjoying the comfort of an old friend like Pepinal, or the joy of meeting a new one like El Bosco, cupping makes me happy. And today was a happy day.

We started early by cupping five different flights from Jose Antonio’s farms. The first flight was all washed and two gems were found. One was citric orange and chocolate, a possible Single Origin (SO) Espresso, the other bright, floral and delicious with various stone fruits. Next up a flight of semi-washed (also referred to as "honey") from two farms excelled. Great with, stone fruit, body and balance. My favorite honey started right off with the following comment - WOW! Like the other but more intense with lots of orange and a creamy caramel body, kind of like an orange cream sickle but with other stone fruits tossed in for flavor and fun.

Next up different varieties from the same farm: Orange, Yellow and red Bourbon just to name a few. And it was amazing how different they all tasted. Orange and Yellow were my favorites. While the orange was juicy and sweet, the yellow had a floral bright sweet acidity that will only get better with rest. From there we cupped several peaberries from different farms. The peaberry is where only one round pea shaped bean is found in the cherry rather than two half moon shaped beans. One of the lots was pulled from the sorting table the night before so only about 6 hours of rest. That said, they showed exceptional promise.

Our final table included natural processed beans and featured a specially created blend of 3 different beans blended together that included three different processes (wet, semi-washed, and natural) from three different farms. This was something the team at Jasal created especially for us and was the best cup of the morning.

Happy as a pig in mud, we departed to see several farms up close and personal. The views, the land, and the people were beautiful and genuine. But apparently word of coffee thieves reached this part of El Salvador and Jose Antonio had armed guards protecting his crops. It was a little scary seeing a masked man with a machine gun approach us as we entered the farm, but he quickly recognized Jose Antonio and let us pass. By the time we arrived, the workers were sorting their bounty of cherry as they prepared for weighing. Groups of men and women would gather around piles of cherries and separate the red from the green from the yellow. By yellow I do not mean unripe, but fully ripe yellow beans. It was a wonderful site and the people were so genuine and friendly. While I love the cupping, the memories of this visit will stay with me long after the coffee is gone.

With visits completed, we headed back to San Salvador for another cupping, this one with Lucia Ortiz and her Q cupper Jorge to tastes all the lotes from Las Mercedes. Though not all the lots have been picked, the new crop is tasting really good. Our current Bourbon, the El Ruby, was fruity and sweet while another of our lots, La Montana, was bright, sweet, floral and citric. With cupping’s completed we joined friends for a late dinner before calling it a day, and a great day it was.

Next up, Guatemala Antigua,

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