Episode 351 on Monday the 3rd of August, 2015. El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon.

This is one of my all time favourite farms back for a second year! We welcome it back with the widest of arms, it’s so so special. I often get asked what my favourite coffee of all time. I will never say (although my friends know the true answer), but I say three, this is one of them.

I went to El Salvador in 2008 on a buying trip, visiting some of the farms that we buy from. I actually arrived the evening of the Cup of Excellence awards. After the ceremony, I was walking around when this guy who seemed very popular came over to me and introduced himself. He was Ernesto, or as I would come to know him, Neto. He had just won the Cup of Excellence competition with his ‘La Ilusión’ farm, the sister farm of ‘Alaska’. Alaska is a farm we had bought from in Cup of Excellence the year before. Ernesto invited me to visit La Ilusión the next day. It was so great to finally meet someone I had communicated with so many times via email.

Neto bought La Ilusión 9 years ago. The farm has coffee trees averaging 19 years of age and is growing 95% 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. They are trying to maintain a balance with the surrounding ecosystem, which is part of a natural fauna corridor crucial to 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 delineates his farm with dense pine and cypress forest, which itself provides a special micro-climate for La Ilusión.

The naturally processed version of this coffee was used by the 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez, he caused a bit of a stir in the world of barista competition by using the naturally processed lot in his milk drinks and sig drink then the washed (this coffee) as his espresso, such a stir that he won! That year I had roasted the coffee for Alejandro that had been grown by Neto and there was a magical moment backstage where I was stood with Alejandro and Neto polishing glasses, the grower and roaster and barista all stood together preparing for the presentation, not too often you get such wonderful things happening!

In the cup I got fruit salad sweets (for those who don’t know this is a very sweet fruits chewy sweet) all on the front end. A lovely pink lemonade acidity to match. Not over powering but completely in balance with the whole cup. And this is what it does best, balance in the cup. Then it’s the sweet sweet sticky chewy fruit salad aftertaste that just carries on and on and on.

- Country: El Salvador
- Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range
- City: Santa Ana
- Farm: La Ilusión
- Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello
- Altitude: 1,750-1,850 m.a.s.l.
- Variety: Bourbon
- Processing System: Washed

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