Thursday, October 16, 2008

Matalapa, La Libertad, El Salvador - Cup of Excellence winner

The Matalapa, from Ritual Coffee Roasters, has wicked acidity, but also has the body to match, so you get a complex but balanced cup. As an espresso, this coffee was incredibly smooth and balanced. No loud notes disrupting the symphony of under-ripe cherries and milk chocolate. But have this without milk, or if you do, then as a macchiato, because the espresso disappears when lots of the white stuff is added.

It's easy to see why this coffee took 10th place in the Cup of Excellence competition this year in the El Salvador contest, with a score of 88.29. The description of the coffee by the international jury that cupped this coffee said it had: chocolate aroma, sweet and bright citrus acidity, caramel, honey, blood orange, tropical fruit, sweet lime, green grapes, almond butter, creamy mouthfeel, elegant.

Three highly regarded roasters bid for this coffee during the online auction -- Intelligentsia, Ritual and Terroir -- and paid $5.55 a pound for it. Ritual is selling it for $27 a pound; Terroir prices it at $22.95 for 12 ounces; and I can't find it for sale on Intelligentsia's site, however, Intelligentsia's Kyle Glanville took first place in this year's U.S. Barista championship with a single origin espresso from this farm.

The region where these coffee beans were grown, the La Cumbre mountain range in the area of Juan Higinio, Department of La Libertad, and its elevation -- 1,250 meters or 4,101 feet above sea level -- account for the massive body and acidity, according to a write up on the farm by the Cup of Excellence, found here. The beans, of the pacas and bourbon varieties, were harvested from part of the farm called Tablon Roblar. The beans were washed, then sun dried on patios.

The grower, Vickie Ann Dalton Lima de Díaz, has really had a hard time the past several years. An earthquake, hurricanes and mudslides have damaged her farm and greatly reduced production since 2000. Many farmers in the area have decided to sell their lots. Vickie kept at it, and with the help of CoE, has established relationships with buyers after finishing 31st in the first El Salvador CoE competition in 2003.

It should be interesting to see what she can do in the next few years with her farm, and if she'll continue to climb the rankings in subsequent CoE competitions.

*note - I received this coffee as a free sample.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great, detailed coverage on this coffee. I enjoyed reading it. Of course, you're just making me jealous. The last two times I've been in there they've been out of the stuff! Ugh.