We've worked with Ernesto Menendez in El Salvador for many years now and if you've been an In My Mug or Hasbean watcher for a little while you'll have probably heard me talk lovingly more than once about his farm La Ilusion, one of my first coffee loves. But Ernesto has got other farms too - who recognises the names Alaska, Los Andes and Los Brumas? They're great coffees we've been lucky enough to enjoy over the years.
The farms, situated on the Santa Ana volcano, don't just get rave reviews from me and you, they're consistent competition winners. Each of Ernesto’s farms has had success in the Cup of Excellence competition and there are very few producers in the world who can boast the kind of consistent placing into the top ranks of this competition that Ernesto has had with his farms.
On top of this, his coffees have been used by not one but two World Barista Champions in their winning performances - and I was involved in roasting both! First, in 2011, La Ilusion was used by Alejandro Mendez of Viva Espresso in El Salvador. Alejandro rocked Bogota and became the first Barista from a coffee producing country to take home the title. That was followed up in 2017 by a familiar face to In My Mug watchers - our very own Dale Harris bringing home the top spot from South Korea using Las Brumas. So, there’s some pedigree to the coffee you have today.
Ernesto has great farms - but which one are you drinking? Well, the answer is it’s a mix! Ernesto’s Grand Reserve Peaberry is one we haven’t had for quite a while now, but which I’m excited to have back. Each year, the peaberries from Ernesto’s farms are separated out and he cups the lots before making a unique blend from them. It’s a blend of Washed and Natural lots from all the farms - a super unusual idea which comes from Ernesto being a master of micro-lotting - separating his lots and cupping them all.
In the cup you'll get a light maple syrup sweetness. That delicious sweetness stays the focus, but shifts into sponge cake, with a grating of orange peel appearing alongside it.
- Country: El Salvador
- Department: Sonsonate
- Nearest city: Santa Ana
- Farms: Finca Las Brumas, Finca Alaska, Finca La Ilusion
- Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto 'Neto' Menéndez Argüello
- Altitude: 1,450–1,700 m.a.s.l.
- Variety: Peaberry
- Processing systems: Washed and Natural
Cupping notes: Maple syrup, sponge cake, orange peel.
- Clean cup: (1–8): 6.5
- Sweetness: (1–8): 8
- Acidity: (1–8): 6
- Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6.5
- Flavour: (1–8): 6
- Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
- Balance: (1–8): 7
- Overall: (1–8): 6
Total: (max. 100): 88
Roasting Information: Medium dark - through first crack and slow it down a little before dropping just on the edge of second.