This is the last of my samples from Jacksonville, Florida’s Bold Bean Coffee Roasters. Their Finca El Retiro is a direct trade coffee from the Pacas family, who have been producing coffee for three generations in Santa Ana, El Salvador. You can buy this coffee directly from Bold Bean for $15/12oz bag.
Bold Bean source this coffee directly from Cafe Pacas, previous El Salvador Cup of Excellence winners, and it is a Red Bourbon varietal grown around 1425masl near Santa Ana in El Salvador. They list it as a semi-washed coffee, which is sort of a hybrid washing style between dry (natural) processing and wet or washed coffee. I wrote an article on “honey processing” (aka semi-washed, aka “pulped natural”) coffees here for your reference.
During the processing of these coffees the cherry is removed, but then the coffees are dried with their mucilage still intact (whereas with a fully washed coffee the mucilage layer is removed, and in dry processed coffees the entire intact cherry is dried onto the seeds/beans). This type of processing is supposed to give reduced acidity and a bit more fruitiness and sweetness to the cup. The coffee where I noticed the benefits of this type of processing the most obviously was Perc’s Koke Cooperative, which I reviewed a couple months ago. I can’t say I notice it a lot in this Finca El Retiro, but I’ve only had one other coffee from the Santa Ana region, so I don’t have much to compare it to.
When the cup is freshly brewed I picked up a lot of bran flakes cereal in the aroma and flavor. That mellows as the cup cools, and it continued to sweeten and open up with fruits as it cooled, too. I think this coffee improves quite a bit as it cools down, so this is a slow sipper that you should enjoy almost to room temperature, if you can handle it!
The body is on the light side of medium and the aftertaste is relatively short and leaves a dryness on my palate. This is a pretty clean coffee with a fair amount of acidity up front that develops into an apricoty sweetness on my palate. There is apricot in the finish and aftertaste, too, but it only comes out in a relatively cool cup. Overall I would call this a relatively crisp cup. It has nice balance and is subtle, so be prepared to really sink into this one to pull all you can from it. It’s worth the effort!