El Salvador was the first coffee producing country Speckled Ax ever visited (coming up on 10 years ago). We spent a few days in Santa Ana, but it was in the small and more remote department of Chalatenango, in the tiny country’s northwest, that we found the small farms that were most intriguing to us. The varietals were exclusively heirloom. Pacas–a bourbon mutation discovered in El Salvador around 1950–was the most prevalent, but many farms were also growing pacamara, a pacas/maragogype cross that was developed by the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research about the same time, and released for producer usage decades later. It’s a large bean variety (maragogype is sometimes referred to as the “elephant bean” due to its size) that sometimes exhibits vegetal or citric cup characteristics that can lend a coffee unique elegance. It’s also genetically unstable, with a percentage of the plants reverting back to pacas.
This coffee comes from Jose Alfredo Recinos and San Andres, a small finca that sits at about 1800 meters in altitude. It’s a high farm, but especially so in Chalatenango. The farm has multiple placements in the Cup of Excellence competition, and the coffee is quite nice. As usual, our tendency in purchasing natural process coffees is towards cleanliness, rather than over the top, fermented fruity character. But if dark fruits are your thing, this coffee has them, along with florals, honey and the edgy character that pacamara can sometimes show off.
Producer: Jose Alfredo Recinos Diaz
Location: Alotepec, Metapan, Chalatenango
Elevation: 1800 MASL
Process: natural process, dried on raised beds