A bit atypical for both process and variety, this natural Pacamara from Finca Las Ninfas tends towards the lighter side of the spectrum: fruits like green grape, plum, and peach are at the forefront, with a lovely hibiscus accent, some slight herbal notes, and a clean syrupy body.
Ricardo Valdivieso, a fourth-generation coffee farmer, and his family are responsible for producing some pretty fun coffees for us over the years, like this wild and wonderful dry-processed Pacamara. The coffee was harvested on the Las Ninfas finca, which, along with its sibling farm Santa Leticia, are both full of productive coffee trees and brimming with beauty.
Passed down through the family, the farms were originally founded in 1870 by noted statesman Francisco Menéndez Valdevieso, a native of the region, a general, provisional president of the country, as well as the founder of El Salvador’s educational system. Ricardo is his great-grandson. In addition to coffee and preserved forest, the farms contain archaeological ruins from the Mayan era and Ricardo’s daughter Monica runs an eco-tourist lodge on Santa Leticia.
The farms are located near the town of Apaneca, due east of El Salvador’s major coffee landmark, Volcán de Santa Ana, also known as Ilamatepec. The mountainous region that spans the north and east of the country’s highest still-active volcanic peak is ideal in climate for coffee cultivation. Volcanic soil, steady Pacific breeze, sufficient elevation, and a clear division between rainy and dry seasons make for a fertile environment that is also lush with native forests.
Clearly, the hallmark of this delightful dry processed Pacamara is its large size, about 75% screen 18 or larger. The resulting average density is no surprise, and the moderate looking moisture content looks good. Its water activity is a little above average, although this is fairly common for midsummer arrivals from Central America. It’s a delightful coffee with a lot of potential given the right roasting touch. Keep an eye on Jen & Evan’s notes on this one.
Pacamara is a distinctly Salvadoran variety, released in the 1970s but worked on for more than 30 years prior to that at the Genetic Department of the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC). Despite only accounting for about 0.22% of El Salvador’s coffee plants, Pacamara has developed a cult following among specialty roasters. Interestingly, the quality report that accompanied its release recommended processing it as a Natural for best results.
Pacamara’s genetic lineage comes from two naturally occurring variations, called Pacas and Maragogype, branching off Arabica’s two most common heirloom cultivars. Pacas, a dwarf Bourbon, was discovered by the Pacas family in the Santa Ana volcanic region within El Salvador, while Maragogype is a Typica mutation, first discovered in Brazil’s mountainous Bahia region. The large size of the beans, for which Pacamara is famous, are inherited from Maragogype.
Pacamaras are very large and there was no doubt in my mind that this coffee would need a little extra Maillard time to make sure it fully develops internally. For this reason, I decided to use my Long Maillard (LM) profiles for the Ikawa. It is not often that we get to roast a pacamara natural and this one has average moisture and a relatively high water activity. All of these indicate that a longer roast time will be needed.
In Ikawa Roast (1) first crack occurred on the high side at 407.5°F, but fairly early in the roast, unlike our other pacamara natural from El Salvador this week. Ikawa Roast (2) was exactly the same profile with 15 seconds added on to the end of the roast, which cracked 15 seconds earlier than Ikawa roast (1) and at a slightly lower temperature. Looking at the green statistics, this coffee is slightly larger than the other sample and is grown in the same region. One thing that I have noticed in the Ikawa roaster is that although they are very good at replicating exactly the same time and temperature recipe, the 50 gram batch size is very small and with a large bean such as this, it is not unusual to see some variance in your numbers.
On the cupping table, both roasts were stunning and very juicy. This coffee has a dynamic acidity profile from citric, malic, and tartaric organic acids giving this coffee a very complete and balanced juicy flavor. For a tropical mango dominant flavor, roast this coffee on the shorter profile and for a juicy and ripe blackberry give the coffee just a bit more time in the machine.
In the hot drum of the my 1 kilo Probatino roaster it can be a challenge to roast lower density coffees because of the amount of power the gas flame has. Knowing this I wanted to have a lower charge temperature, but not so unreasonably low that it would halt or slow production. I waited 5 minutes after the first roast for the machine to cool off and as always, started the roast at my lowest setting of 2 gas. I waited almost two minutes before adding more heat at 3 gas and this momentum carried me to first crack.
First crack happened earlier than cj1216 at 397.4°F and I reduced the heat at the same time. With 1:21 minutes of post crack development time this coffee took off and reached an end temperature of 415.4°F. My general rule of thumb for roasting coffee is to increase keep a minimum of 10°F degree difference between my first crack temperature and my end temperature and with this being such a large bean, I decided to increase that by 5 degrees.
On the cupping table the coffee was juicy and sweet with a great combination of malic and citric acidity. There was a touch of roastiness that I would rather do without. Next time I roast this coffee I will make a much more dramatic reduction of heat at first crack to eliminate the roasty finish. That said, this is a really nice coffee that shined with every single roast that was put forth in this analysis, a truly excellent coffee.
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Two natural pacamara coffees this week, and they couldn’t be more distinct. The Las Ninfas is a coffee clearly more focused on the stonefruit and citrusy portion of the flavor spectrum. From my experience with the Santa Leticia, I noted that I would need to be careful towards the end of roast. My attention to detail paid off, and this coffee provided more nuanced expression of its flavors. The pre-crack smell was definitely more sweet than savory, with a very distinct strawberry note.
First crack came in fits and starts with this coffee, with a few false pops earlier on in the roast. I waited until I heard some loud consecutive pops, and counted that as first crack proper. I engaged P3 as soon as this happened, and made sure to only let this coffee go 1:15 into development. I achieved a little over 13% roast loss, and the coffee continued to pop as I took it out of the roaster for manual cooling.
Again, this coffee was very chaffy, so make sure to clean your roaster between roasts. On the cupping table, we experienced peach almost unanimously, as well as some syrupy cherry sweetness and honey covered vanilla wafers. Yes, it was sweet. If ever there was a coffee to pour on your pancakes, this is it!
This week’s coffees were a whirlwind of fun, funky fruit flavors. This offering from the Las Ninfas farm lived up to its name (“the Nymphs”), offering mouth watering fruit notes across the spectrum from grape to berry to stone fruit.
The shorter ratio of the Aeropress (it was about a 1:12 brew) brought out some great brown sugar and date sweetness, but the juiciness of the fruit acids was still very present. Notes of nectarine, grape, kiwi, and apricot overwhelmed our cupping forms. I used the inverted method of brewing on the Aeropress and included two 10 second stirs, one at 00:30 and the second at 1:00. At 1:20 I flipped the device over and began to depress, plunging for about 15 seconds.
Switching to the V60 and an extended ratio of 1:16, the brown sugar became syrupy honey and raisin, and the fruit notes became slightly less intense. Instead of nectarine it was white peach and crisp grapes, with a pleasant fresh cherry finish. I was pleased by how evenly this brew extracted, and was able to achieve a flat brew bed and even brew walls.
This coffee lives up to its name, presenting an incredible sweetness and a very clean and juicy cup.