Episode Five El Salvador La Ilusion 3rd of November 2008

First I'd like to tell you a little about how we found this coffee and its great producer, Juan José Ernesto Menéndez Argüello, or simply 'Neto'. In 2007, we were lucky enough to buy coffee that came 8th it that year's Cup of Excellence competition from Neto's other farm, 'Alaska'. It was a wonderful coffee, and one that we subsequently tried to secure for 2008. Unfortunately, a mixture of politics and Has Bean not being a big enough company to buy the entire coffee crop meant that it went to the USA. Upset that we had missed out, I went to El Salvador in 2008 on a buying trip, visiting some of the farms from which we buy. I actually arrived the evening of the Cup of Excellence awards. After the ceromony, I was walking around when this guy who seemed very popular came over to me and introduced himself. He was Neto who had just won the Cup of Excellence competition with his 'La Ilusion' farm, the sister of 'Alaska'. Neto invited me to visit the fam the next day. It was so great to finally meet someone who I had communicated with many times via email.

A few weeks later, I got to taste the coffee and it blew me away. In the cup, I get fruit salad sweets on the front end (for those who don't know, these are very sweet fruit chews), and a lovely acidity to match that is not over powering but completely in balance with the whole cup. There is a lovely effervesence and clean taste like fresh lemonade mixed with Sherbet Dip Dabs, but it remains controlled and tight.

Neto bought La Ilusión four years ago. The farm has coffee trees averaging sixteen years of age and is grown 95% to Bourbon (70% is red Bourbon and 25% is orange Bourbon). The remaining 5% is a combination of other varietals and it is possible to spot some Typica and Kenya trees. The farm is run using environmentally friendly practices, trying to maintain a balance with the surrounding ecosystem, which is part of a natural fauna corridor crucial for migratory and native birds. This is very important for Ernesto, since La Ilusión is neighbouring one of the most important national parks in El Salvador, known as 'Los Andes'. It is nestled on the Santa Ana volcano and delimits his farm with dense pine and cypress forest which itself provides a special microclimate for La Ilusión.

So last year we bought this at auction for the highest price ever paid (at that time) for an El Salvadorian auction lot. In fact, we bought half the entire lot, more than any other member of the buying group. My number one priority at that time was to also secure this lot for this year and establish a strong relationship with Neto. That resulted in more records broken for us, this is a non-auction coffee with a high price, but it is worth every penny.


  • 5 November 2008, 12:23 am

    Luis R says:

    Wasup Steve! this is friking awesome! love everything you are doing… you have to take In my mug to El Salvador or any other origin, we’ll help you with any setup you need… that would be cool?!…take care my friend, loved to see a great description of my favourite coffee on CoE this year.. 97 points – 2 times straight at the national juries! c ya around…..!

  • 5 November 2008, 12:26 am

    In my mug in El Salvador 2009 sounds like a plan my friend, with special guest star Luis and Neto :)

  • 5 November 2008, 9:33 am

    Great to see you Steve! Awesome video podcast, and it’s fantastic to see someone who so obviously loves coffee cupping some of the best coffees out there. I’ll make sure to keep an eye on this :D

  • 5 November 2008, 4:42 pm

    OMG! this is amazing! our hats off to YOU my friend!… Neto will be very happy to see you are enjoying La Ilusion so much, and well I´m sure your clients apreciate that passionate description on our number ONE!…. and don´t be so modest you´ve got the best coffees and we all love you here.

  • 6 November 2008, 12:09 am

    Lukas says:

    I love and literally feel those sudden taste orgasms! Sorry for this analogy but it seems to fit so well :)

  • 8 November 2008, 9:08 pm

    Neto Menendez says:

    I do not have words to express my feelings, thank you very much Steve for your awesome vide and pretty nice commentaries about the coffee of La Ilusión and Alaska. I hope that you and your clients enjoy La Ilusion coffee.

    Greetings Steve, Maria Jose and Luis

    PD Thanks Luis and Maria Jose, by the great work of promotion that you are doing by the coffee of El Salvador.

  • 23 December 2008, 2:59 am

    Thats a little behmor there isn’t it? Didn’t see it in the previous videos!

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