“Working at La Esperanza is like working above the clouds, metres away from the crater of the San Salvador Volcano.” - Josué Morales
At Caffe Nero we tend to think of our coffee buyers as treasure hunters. They go off to the great coffee-growing regions and come back with gold.
Five thousand miles away in El Salvador that treasure hunting involves climbing mountains. Lots of them. Volcanic, lava-spewing mountains, that dominate the spectacular landscape. More than twenty of them stretching along the spine of the country from east to west, which is where our latest single origin coffee is picked.
The San Salvador volcano is a feisty beast, and a fertile one with ancient lava flows contributing to the nutrient rich soils that provide sustenance for tropical flora including the Caffea arabica plants that were planted here by innovative farmers since Bourbon coffee varietals arrived here in the 1880s.
Near the crater of San Salvador lies Finca La Esperanza, run by Raul and Sebastian Alvarez. And it’s La Esperanza where our buyers struck coffee gold with the beans that we roast to produce our single origin El Salvador coffee – the ultimate representation of coffee from this region with its honey-like sweetness and hints of tropical fruit so typical of this part of Central America.
The terroir at La Esperanza is crucial to the cup-profile we are always looking for – one that provides a subtle, sophisticated counterpoint to our signature Classico blend (the one served in every Nero since the beginning of time). The elevation between 1,200 and 1,800 metres, the subtropical highland micro-climate, the soil, the cooling shade provided by the Mezcal and Pepeto trees, breezes that drift in from the Pacific to help dry the beans on extensive tiled terraces – all these factors contribute to the flavours you enjoy once your barista has worked their magic.
EL SALVADOR – THE COFFEE HERITAGE
For coffee aficionados El Salvador, nestled alongside Honduras and Guatemala with a similar subtropical climate to its neighbours, is one of the classic Central American coffee-producing nations.
Coffee is in the bones of this proud nation. Cultivation began here at the end of the 19th century and soon became the main export, so much so that by the 1920s coffee accounted for 90% of all exports. Out of more than 50 coffee-exporting nations El Salvador is not in the top 10 in terms of tonnage but the quality can be exceptional. Farmers like the Alvarez family are right up there with the best in the world in terms of craft, care, expertise and, most importantly, the desire to produce world-class coffee.
“My family are six generations of coffee farmers”, says Sebastian. “As soon as I understood what my father was doing, I fell in love with coffee and cannot see myself doing anything else. Working with Caffe Nero, it was important for us to see they also love coffee as much as we do, and that they are family owned.”
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT EL SALVADOR COFFEE?
El Salvador coffees are prized for their balance. Christopher Jordan, our Head of Coffee explains:
“A balanced coffee isn't the ‘loudest’, the most exotic in flavor, or the most extreme. It's not necessarily the one roasters crow about, or the one that gets 99.9 points in coffee reviews or competitions. But it's the one you want to drink, and have a second cup, and maybe even a third.”
El Salvador is mostly planted in old Bourbon variety coffee or its relatives, like Pacas. Bourbon coffee from El Salvador makes for great espresso. It usually has a full body without too much acidity and that characteristic honey-like sweetness. In that respect La Esperanza hits the nail on the head.
We’ll leave the final say to one of our intrepid treasure hunters, Santiago Barhona, Head of Coffee Sourcing:
“El Salvador is one of the rare origins where you can still find the Bourbon coffee variety at its best. Why Bourbon? It is one of the sweetest varieties out there. Simple as that.”
Sweet music to any coffee drinker’s ears.
La Esperanza is in store now, and available as whole beans or ground coffee (for filter or cafetiere) in 200g bags and fully recyclable Nespresso® Compatible capsules.