This past Saturday, Jose Guillermo and Miguel Menendez from Fincas de la Familia Menendez came to Panther Coffee to school us on the inner workings of coffee production.
More specifically, they told us about two coffees that are currently on the roster at Panther: Finca las Delicias and Finca Piedra Grande, both about 3 miles from each other in Apaneca, in the Ahuachapan Department of El Salvador.
These aren't your usual beans. The Menendez family ships their beans all over the world, including London, where their coffees make it to Buckingham Palace. Hey, if its good enough for the Queen its good enough for us.
Why have two farms so close together? Surprisingly, the two coffees tasted very different. Of course, some of that has to do with the way they are roasted, but Joel Pollock, owner and head roaster, tells us the difference in roasting times between the two is 15 seconds. The differences in flavor are mostly due to the differences in elevation, soil, and exposure to the elements.
Miguel showed us a slideshow of the coffee producing process, and we were stunned by the amount of work that goes into each bag. The coffee "cherries" are picked and packed by hand and divided into 150 lb. bags, which the workers load onto trucks. They are then brought to the wet mill, where the fruit covering is removed to expose the beans.
Next, the beans are dried before being sent to the dry mill, where they are cleaned and sorted. After a 30-60 day aging process, the beans are ready to be sent to micro-roasters like Panther, where each roaster puts their unique finishing touches on the coffee.
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When Joel was asked whether he is able to improve the beans that he receives, he explained that his job is simply to bring out the best in the beans and thus the final product is only as good as the beans he receives from his producers. Lucky for us, there are producers like the Menendez family who put the effort into their coffees needed to make a brew fit for royalty.