In My Mug Audio

Episode 645: El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Natural Bourbon

March 20, 2021

One of our all-time favourite farms returns once more! We often get asked what our favourite coffee of all time is, but we will never say exactly (although our friends know the true answer). However, we do narrow it to three coffees, and this is one of them.

We went to El Salvador on a buying trip in 2008, and were visiting some of the farms that we buy from. We actually arrived the evening of the Cup of Excellence awards, and after the ceremony we were walking around when this guy who seemed very popular came over and introduced himself. He was Ernesto or, as we would come to know him, Neto. He'd just won the Cup of Excellence competition with his 'La Ilusión' farm, the sister farm of 'Alaska'. Alaska is a farm we had bought from via the Cup of Excellence the year before. Ernesto invited us to visit La Ilusión the next day, and it was so great to finally meet someone we had communicated with so many times via email!

Neto bought La Ilusión many years ago. The farm has coffee trees averaging 20+ years of age and is growing 95% Bourbon (70% is Red Bourbon and 25% is Orange Bourbon). The remaining 5% is a combination of other varietals, and it's possible to spot some Typica and Kenya trees too.

The farm is run using environmentally friendly practices because the farmers are trying to maintain a balance with the surrounding ecosystem, which is part of a natural fauna corridor crucial to migratory and native birds. This is very important for Ernesto because La Ilusión neighbours one of the most important national parks in El Salvador, known as 'Los Andes'. It is nestled on the Santa Ana volcano and delineates his farm with dense pine and cypress forest, which itself provides a special micro-climate for La Ilusión.

The 2011 version of this naturally processed lot was used by the 2011 World Barista champion, Alejandro Mendez. He caused a bit of a stir in the World of Barista Championships by using a naturally processed lot in his milk drinks and his signature drink, and then using the washed version as his espresso. He caused such a stir that he won! That year we had roasted the coffee for Alejandro, and it had been grown by Neto. There was a magical moment backstage in which we were stood, polishing glass, with Alejandro and Neto; the grower, roaster and barista all stood together, preparing for the presentation. It's not too often you get such wonderful things happening! Aah, the wonders of barista competition. :)

The intense sweetness of strawberry jam runs throughout the coffee. There's a bit of peach too, adding a little complexity, and a shoulder of orange on the finish.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range
  • City: Santa Ana
  • Farm: La Ilusión
  • Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello
  • Altitude: 1,750–1,850 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Bourbon
  • Processing system: Natural


Strawberry jam, peach, orange

Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6.5
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6.5
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Correction:(+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 87

Roasting Information
Medium to medium-dark - through first and slow it a little, pushing it towards the second but finishing the roast before second gets going.

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