I can see El Salvador… but I’d rather be with you
Talk about starting the year off with a bang and not a whisper! Our first Salvadoran coffee is one to truly behold, and I couldn’t be more excited about it landing on our shelves and into your cups and homes. You heard me right! We’ve never offered a Salvadoran coffee before, and when thinking about it, it was simply because I could never find one that I liked. In my experience, they tend to be less complex with much more earthy flavors, which is simply something I don’t tend to prefer. But there’s always a surprise around the corner, and when I first tasted this coffee, I knew we had to do something with it.
I was introduced to this coffee by a dear friend who owns a coffee roasting company in Portland, Oregon. He had been trying to introduce me to the Farmer he’s been working with for years and buys a lot of coffee from. I had it on my list of to-do’s for quite some time, but unfortunately, life moves pretty fast and sometimes ideas are harder to turn into reality than you’d like. But 2020 amidst all the craziness came some bright spots for me both personally and professionally. Due to having to make some cutbacks, I took over the green coffee buying program completely, and started analyzing all of our coffees through a different lens and realized we needed more diversity and to try out some new ideas. What a perfect opportunity to expand our offerings, reacquaint myself with all the deliciousness that is out there, and most importantly, deliver our customers (that’s you!) some new treats that I knew would be appreciated.
When looking at the opportunity to work with new coffees, one of the main reasons I was so determined to work with Emilio, the farmer, is that I had recently found out he was a huge Grateful Dead and Phish fan. Birds of a feather flock together, and working with people that I share common interests with is a huge part of why I love running a business and continuing to expand our community. Knowing that we were like minded and had similar passions, I knew this was someone I wanted to work with and support. The farm of record is called Finca El Manzano. It was founded in 1872 and has belonged to Emilio’s family for generations. In 2005, Emilio expanded the operation by replanting new varieties to the farm and building Beneficio El Manzano. The new cultivars and production facility gave him the ability to experiment with different processes as well as the ability to explore different characteristics that the other varieties have to offer. It is this attention to detail and control of the process that has been at the forefront of what makes Finca El Manzano so special.
When I finally reached out to Emilio to get the ball rolling he sent me 5 samples from his farm. To say it simply, I was blown away by each sample. For the first coffee PH has bought from El Salvador, I decided to go with a classic varietal and my personal favorite; Bourbon. Bourbon is one of the most culturally and genetically important groups of arabica coffees. Records show that this varietal was found in Ethiopia and was taken to Yemen and cultivated as a crop. From Yemen, Bourbon and another varietal, Typica, were then taken and spread throughout the world. You could call Bourbon the Mother of Varietals, and the French introduced the Bourbon seeds to what is now known as Bourbon Island (now La Réunion) off the coast of Madagascar.
Standing on the Moon is named after a Grateful Dead song that was co-written by Jerry Garcia and famed Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter. It was released on their 1989 album, Built to Last, and was only played just over 50 times live. There’s a lot of discussion about what the song is about, and though I believe every perspective has value, my favorite interpretation is that it’s a love song to the goods and bads of humanity, reflecting on all of life as the singer is about to achieve enlightenment. The singer is in a state of spiritual completion, of enlightenment, if you will, seeing everything laid out before him and feeling the anguish of human suffering. But he is opting, out of love for his fellows, rather than to maintain his view of heaven, to be on some porch, a mundane, normal, backyard kind of place, with the listener: everyone. He's making the decision the Bodhisattva makes of refusing entrance into Nirvana before everyone is enlightened and returns to the world of backyards and human love. Unfortunately since both Jerry and Robert are dead, I’ll never have the chance of asking either of them, and though I am far from spiritual enlightenment, I do work on myself everyday, and as a father, hope to teach my children the value of self-awareness, connection and love. I also believe in the power of humans and connection, and no matter how disconnected I get from people while being an entrepreneur, I always come back to the fact it’s the people of this company and community that make me whole and keep me going.
Now onto the coffee. If you recall, I had mentioned previous coffees from El Salvador had left me wanting more. More fruit; more energy; more depth and dimension. Well this one delivered across the board, and I know after a few sips, you’ll be instantly transported into a new galaxy of flavor and fun! Bright and aromatic notes of tangerine provide a crisp and energetic energy, only to be matched with the subtle sweetness of dates, cacao and nougat. A wonderful mouthfeel adds to the party, and there’s a lovely complexity through the finish that helps this coffee stand out among others from the same region. I’m so very proud of this coffee and thrilled to be able to share it with each of you.