This week's look at PT's Estate Series is part 1 of 2 posts looking at one Pacamara microlot coffee processed three different ways. First of all, I want to say what a cool idea and setup this is. Major kudos to PT's for working with the farmers to do this and then make it accessible to the public in some killer packaging. Coming in its own box set and then packed in three separate 5.5 ounce boxes with a nice little info booklet and brew guide, the presentation of this cool opportunity is great. Everything is very nicely labeled and described with plenty of information, but not too much that it's no longer approachable. It's even cooler that they did this with a less common, and cult classic among some, varietal.
The Pacamara varietal is a hybrid first bred in El Salvador, known for large cherries that produce a coffee featuring notes of citrus, deep berry, and dried fruit favors, and excellent body. This box set showcases one farm's microlot of this varietal processed three different ways. Similar to past looks at some of 49th Parallel's coffees that used the same coffee roasted to two different profiles, this provides a great opportunity to directly see and taste the differences in processing methods.
The growers of this microlot, Sergio and Isabel Ticas, grow this coffee at over 5700'. Growing coffee at such a high elevation is said to slow the development of the coffee cherry to further enhance the sweetness of the coffee. The coffee is definitely very smooth and sweet. The beans are very large, and so far, the differences between the different processing methods are not as stark as I would of thought. A complete comparison of the three different processing methods will follow next week, but this week I'm going to focus on the one I've had the most time to work through so far, the natural process.
This particular microlot undergoes an unusual first wash right after picking and before drying to make sure the drying process was extra clean. It's a light-medium roast level that is very, very sweet with deep red fruit flavors that are very smooth and creamy with great body. PT's also described a buttery finish, which although I did get a great lingering finish on the best cups, I don't know if I picked this up. The tasting notes from PT's are, "cocoa and dark fruit aroma gives way to a note of plum when brewed, with a black cherry sweetness and a decadent, buttery finish."
This coffee was very forgiving, never producing a bad cup by any means, but I will say be sure to give it plenty of rest. I started working with this coffee at 4 days post roast, and though it was smooth, the fruit, sweetness, and any nuanced flavors were really muddled and lacking. Brewing this coffee at 8-10 days post roast has been very rewarding though. I found the best balance through the 02 size Hario V60 to be:
- 1:16 ratio - for me this was 20 grams in to 320 grams out
- 197*F brew temp to a 30 second stirred bloom.
- Slow and steady intermittent pours, keeping the water level about half full in the cone, and making sure to wash the sides of the filter and really keep all grounds evenly saturated and extracting.
- 2:30 total brew time.
I really worked to maximize the extraction of all of these coffees as they were grown and roasted with enough care to really try and coax everything out of them. The washed varietal was even sorted through a screen to keep density and brewing as consistent as possible. I found faster brew times to start to loose body and not really gain much more fruit, and brew times pushing 3 minutes to get muddled and begin lacking flavor separation.
This would be a great coffee for anyone that thinks coffee is bitter and burnt tasting as this is very smooth, balanced, and as it says, deeply sweet. It does look like they are no longer offering this boxed set, but do be sure to follow PT's on instagram or keep checking their site, as this is not the first time they've done this sort of offering from a specific farm. La Lagunita Honey is also currently available from the same farmers, and will be in a future post coming soon. All in all, the box contained 16.5 ounces of top quality coffee in fantastic packaging for $30. Although that's a little more per pound that I try to spend, this has been a really fun opportunity to take a different look at coffee and processing methods.