It’s late winter in the Pacific Northwest and gradually our internal compasses are harmonizing with the changing seasons. Even the sun and moon are finding celestial equilibrium as the night no longer overpowers the day.
Instead of craving rich and syrupy espressos to get me through these gloomy days, I’m searching for a coffee with both outstanding character and that comfort food quality.
This past week I’ve been enjoying Water Avenue’s washed Pacamara from Santa Barbara, El Salvador. The baked stone fruit notes and creamy Nutella give this coffee a personality that parallels the season. Its medium acidity and round body make for a highly sessionable brew. It’s one of those coffees that you drink on the porch in the crisp air, grasping the mug with both hands for warmth.
The baked apple and peach cobbler notes play well together on the playground of my palate. Furthermore, in the background, there’s a soft citrus note reminiscent of grapefruit, although the roaster’s notes suggest meyer lemon. Close enough.
But the best part of this coffee is the Nutella. Lovely notes of hazelnuts dipped in Swiss chocolate. It’s what keeps me sipping.
Pacamara is a hybrid variety formed by Pacas (a mutation of Bourbon) and Maragogype (a mutation of Typica). It was first discovered in El Salvador in 1958 and identified easily by its large size that comes from its parent, Maragogype, often referred to as the elephant bean. In the cup it’s known for a harmonious blend of fruit and chocolate notes, however its defects lead to herbal and often onion-like flavors.
The Santa Barbara farm is one of El Salvador’s coffee growing gems. It’s no wonder that I like this coffee so much considering that one of my all time favorite coffees, a washed red bourbon comes from this very same farm and roaster.
“Finca Santa Barbara is part of the Melendez family’s network of farms in the Apaneca-Ilamatapec mountain range of western El Salvador. It rises up the slopes of the Cerro Las Ranas Volcano, reaching the highness altitudes for cultivating coffee in El Salvador.” -Water Avenue
If I had to pin-point one characteristic about this coffee that stands out is that it’s perfectly balanced. The acidity, the body, the flavors, and the finish aren’t competing. They all jive in perfect harmony – exactly what I need as my mind adjusts to the balancing seasons.