A coffee-obsessed blogger bought three bags of beans at once, one sunny day in August. One of those bags is still nearly full. One is about half-full. And one is completely empty. This is the story of that one, which sits next to my computer, taunting me with a rich, thick aroma of beans that are no more. A couple of weeks ago, I asked what would happen if someone on the quest for a perfect shot of espresso coffee found what he was looking for? The prize-winning Black Cat from Bolivia roasted by Intelligentsia came close. And there have been a few others that I would put on that list. The sweet-tooth yellow Icatu comes to mind. When you can still remember a coffee you had six months ago, either it was good coffee, or you have an uncontrolled obsession. Maybe both.
What this coffee from El Salvador has in common with that one is the same roaster, Verve, in Santa Cruz, which has a maddeningly minimalist Web site. So finding information has been tricky. Name El Balsamo-Quetzaltepec
Origin: 100 percent Bourbon variety, Finca San Eduardo, El Salvador
Roasted: Aug. 11 by Verve Coffee Roasters, Santa Cruz, Ca.
Purchased: Aug. 16 at Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., Manhattan, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description One account: "Has a nectar, clean, creamy body, juicy, ripe, honeyed, lemon, complex acidity."
In the cup This is the second coffee from El Salvador that I've tried in recent months -- the other was Los Inmortales from Intelligentsia -- and I'm impressed.
It's tough to find much information online. A search yields brief mentions in retail listings or Spanish-only sites. [Update: See the comments for informative links from a reader.]
Grumpy doesn't have much information on its Web site, either, about this particular coffee. One can only hope that Verve's promised site upgrade will be coming soon, though I guess if I had to choose, I'd rather the roaster focus on making great coffee rather than blog design.
The description above, from a Scranton cafe's Facebook page (yes, people are selling coffee on Facebook!), sounds about right.
This is a creamy sweet coffee, like the yellow Icatu. I found myself drinking shot after shot of it, until the last bean was gone, today. The Barismo Koke suffered in the comparison (an unfair one, since it's going for a completely different taste experience). For more information about Salvadoran coffees and Bourbon varieties in particular, this page at Sweet Maria's has some good information (a few years old now).
Apparently, El Salvador used to have a poor reputation compared to the rest of Central and Latin America, but I'm inclined to try more coffees from there, especially from a a quality roaster like Verve or Intelligentsia. And I'll keep an eye out for this grower, Finca San Eduardo.