New coffee: Brew Lab Espresso Mk.7 - El Salvador, San Rafael, Bourbon, Washed

Dialling in

Some of you may have noticed that our house blend has changed numerous times since we opened our doors. This is because we share the belief – along with our roasters, Has Bean – that coffee should be purchased in accordance with the various harvest seasons of the producing countries. This gives us a fantastic array of tasty beverages but it also helps us keep our offerings of the upmost quality. Has Bean have just had their first container of this year’s El Salvador coffees come in; they’ve done a fabulous job of being one of the first European roasters to land this year’s harvest. We are delighted to get hold of one of these as our house coffee.  The coffee is called San Rafael Washed Bourbon. El Salvador has the right ingredients to produce speciality coffee - soil, climate, altitude, and great plant stock. 70% of coffee exported by El Salvador is a cultivar called Bourbon. It isn’t a particularly high yielding cultivar and it has problems with disease, pest resistance, and susceptibility to wind and rain damage. It is however revered for its cup profile: Bourbons are generally known for being balanced, sweet, and having a refined acidity which does not dominate in the cup. Whilst being delicious as a brewed coffee, Bourbons are renowned for making a great shot of espresso.

The San Rafael farm is located very close to the Santa Ana volcano in a much coveted region for growing exceptional coffees. The coffee is shade grown with a mixture of agricultural crops and indigenous species, which is good ecologically. Increasing biodiversity on the farm helps protect soil and water resources whilst also helping with pest control and crop fertilisation. Additionally, shade regulates the microclimate to allow coffee plants to produce very high quality cherries. All the farm upkeep activities are done by hand rather than using chemicals and additional waste from the cherry processing plant is recycled back to the farm as fertilizer. Our coffee was hand-picked in January and then sorted to remove organic debris and bad cherries.

This coffee is known as a ‘washed coffee’ due to the way in it is processed at the El Mono mill. What occurs here is a dry fermentation where the coffee is sprayed with water, or water from the de-pulping process is added, for 8-10 hours until the drying process begins. Due to the extreme heat at midday the cherries are covered to prevent damage and the beans are then dried on patios until they have between 10-12% moisture content. Has Bean buy this coffee through the mill the producer uses and move the coffee themselves.

Once the coffee has landed at Has Bean towers in Stafford, it is then down to the roasters to choose a ‘roast profile’. The coffee is roasted to varying degrees with different temperature profiles, these sample roasts are then evaluated and a particular roast profile is chosen - the particular profile of this coffee was selected to accentuate its sweetness. Once roasted and shipped to Brew Lab the coffee rests for 7-10 days and its then down to me, the barista, to consistently serve this coffee to its fullest potential. This is me dialling in the espresso first thing in the morning before the shop opens.

Dialling in

Here I am trying to achieve a grind size and dose which best highlights the coffee on any day, it’s a lot of pressure considering the complex chain of events that led to this coffee coming into my hands!

I think effort put in at the producing country and at Has Bean really shows in the cup. As an espresso expect a very smooth mouth feel with a buttery and creamy sweetness. In milk there is even more sweetness: chocolate, cream and little bit of hazelnut.  As a brewed coffee there is an increased complexity with a sticky caramel sweetness coming through. Come in and see what you think of it!

El Salvador, San Rafael, Bourbon, Washed  Country of origin: El Salvador Region: Palo de Campana Farm: San Rafael Varieties: Bourbon Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Slayer Espresso Machine