El Salvador Santa Rosa Honey
“This season I traveled to San Salvador in April to cup with our friend Raul. This was my first time meeting Raul, but my familiarity with Santa Rosa coffees go back to the previous harvest when I tasted Raul’s honey-process Pacamara that blew my mind. I was excited to see the famed farm, as well as to taste and select our lots this season. I flew into San Salvador and met Raul, who then showed me his lab (with a ridiculously beautiful view of the city) where we prepared and tasted an experimental lot he was thinking of submitting to the Cup of Excellence. Raul has a razor-sharp attention to detail, which is what it takes to produce award-winning coffees year after year. For instance, he separates each picking of each lot into what is known in coffee production as ‘day lots,’ which is a representation of that particular moment of the harvest on that part of that farm. This allows for extreme control of the profile of our lots, which is amazing for building a consistent and high-quality offering from Santa Rosa. In the end, I ended up cupping through a few tables of day lot offerings, where I selected five lots to be a 19 bag honey-process offering. Ultimately our honey lot ended up being my favorite of the year, a perfect reflection of the attention to detail Raul puts into each step of producing his coffees.”
The story of us buying this coffee starts five years ago with Jorge Raul Rivera traveling to the Roaster’s Guild Retreat to meet roasters. There, he and Mark, our head roaster, became friends. We connected with him again at that year’s SCAA Expo. He invited us to visit him at Santa Rosa in the Chalatenango Region, and although we wanted to go we can’t just pick up and visit every producer. After sampling and buying a small amount of his coffee we were blown away with the quality. His coffees were sweet, clean, and interesting. The following year Jon and I got the chance to visit Raul and Finca Santa Rosa. It’s hard to accurately describe our experience and the kind of hospitality Raul showed us. He took us to his favorite spots- from the beach to the best papusaria stand to one of his farms that had been destroyed by fire. Parts of the farm had gone to seed, coffee shrubs grew like they were made to- long, thin limbs with sparse, ripe cherry. There he had hidden gesha seedlings deep in a gulley, too far from the road for anyone to steal them. We stayed at the processing station for several days. Gerardo, part of the team there, was gracious and welcoming. One of the days something went wrong with a portion of the sample roasting, and Raul and the roaster stayed up all night redoing the samples. When they finished at 3am, Raul drove the roaster from Chalatenango into San Salvador to the doctor.
Since then we have bought from Jorge every year and he has become a favorite among coffee industry folk for clean complex Salvadorian coffees. We look forward to his coffees every year.
Each lot is cared for and documented to the most minute detail. Crisp, sweet, big pacamara body, green apple acidity, lemon.
HISTORY OF SANTA ROSA & EL SALVADOR CIVIL WAR
Finca Santa Rosa was purchased in 1979 by Jorge Rivera’s father. Initially, he invested in the land for forestry by planting walnut, white oak, and other hardwood trees. The following year a coordinated guerrilla based revolutionary war started, and El Salvador experienced a 12-year civil war. The Chalatenago area was largely affected, and neither Jorge or his father were able to visit the farm then. Fast forward to the late 90’s and Jorge’s father, now back at Santa Rosa, saw an opportunity to plant coffee amongst the trees. At the time intercropping and shade growing were unheard of as it slowed coffee growth and affected the yield. The benefits though can add to the cup profile and are very sustainable.
Jorge went to agriculture school in Honduras and then to LSU here in the states. He went back to El Salvador and took over the coffee farm refining the fermentation techniques, fertilizers, and varieties. His Pacamaras took 5th place in the 2011 Cup of Excellence. Seeing the progress created, they became even more scientific and in 2014 won 1st place in the Cup of Excellence (COE). What’s even more impressive is that although he won, Jorge did not rest on his laurels, he doubled down on investing in the farm and again won 1st place this year at El Salvador's COE. We happily bought a majority of his crop this year, and we are incredibly excited to share these beautiful coffees with you.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER - Kalita Wave Dripper
25g Coffee : 400g Water 205°F
~3:15 Drain Time
Wow. Finca Santa Rosa has been a regular offering in our cafes for many years now, and Raul (producer) has been a regular atop the El Salvador Cup of Excellence. This honey process coffee shows us so much of what we love about coffee. Bright raspberry, rose, and a warm sweetness like dried dates and preserves. We love this offering on our bar and recommend our go-to recipe to showcase the balance in this coffee. If this coffee drains too quickly, under-extracts, it tastes like tart unripe raspberry, and misses the darker sweetness of dates and jam. Now, as the coffee ages longer than a week we are seeing the drain times lower even to 2:30s and still taste good! These beans are not very dense, and so when they age they are still able to extract well in the lower time ranges. If this coffee drains too long, over-extracts, the rose note became overpowering and masked the other great attributes of this coffee. We also found that increasing concentration (more coffee OR less water) made our cup profile overpowering and borderline savory, so be wary and consider widening your ratio if you notice this.
ESPRESSO - Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars
Pressure Profile: 0 sec to 4 sec - line pressure, from 4 sec till done - 9 bars
20g in : ~43g out @ ~28s
Our first shot at this coffee pulled in 18s and was under-extracted tasting very sour and salty. Our next shot we made a macro adjustment finer and pulled in 28s, meeting the parameters above, and it was amazing. We played around with it a little more, but found our favorite shot to be the parameters of our second shot. Sweet raspberry, silky rose, and date sugar sweetness lingering. This espresso is balanced and pleasing to crowds of coffee fans and casual drinkers. So, don’t be scared to grind a little finer for this coffee to get into these parameters, or wherever you taste balance. If this coffee drained much longer, over extracts, it had an overpowering florality that masked the sweetness and complexity of this coffee.
El Salvador Santa Rosa Honey
This is a Relationship Coffee from our friend, Jorge Raul Rivera, and his farm Santa Rosa. We travel to Santa Rosa every year and look forward to this trip. We purchased nineteen 70-kg bags for $5.55/lb and gave it a score of 88. Ally Coffee handled the importing for an arrival cost just at $5.90/lb. Be on the lookout for the other coffees we bought from Santa Rosa coming soon.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $0.87/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as the final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.