Coffee News: from Seed to Cup

Tusell Tostadores Los Pirineos, El Salvador


Coffee beans being roasted

Tussel Tostadores. A sourcer & roaster.

What a life I lead. Last week I was awoken by a DHL deliveryman transporting a precious cargo; a bag of freshly roasted “Salva D’Or”. An El Salvadorian single origin Bourbon Elite, hand-roasted by Nino of Tusell Tostadores, Barcelona.

Salva D’Or, Los Pirineos

The Finca “Los Pirineos” is a winning coffee. Why? The third-generation farm owner, Gilberto Baraona, has won the ‘Cup of Excellence” 7 times and, in 2007, Los Pirineos achieved 10th place globally, at the Rainforest Alliance coffee competition. Impressively, the micro-lot has won the contracts of famed roasters, Tim Wendelboe and Fratello. Now Tusell Tostadores is roasting it…

If I wasn’t already excited enough, Nino Tusell, originally from San Salvador himself, informed me that he’s a family-friend of Gilberto. I had in my possession a shade-grown coffee cultivated and roasted by El Salvadorian amigos, true direct-trade.

But what makes this a winning coffee?

Barista and roaster preparing to pull an espresso

Nino, the Latino roaster, is on the left.

What’s the Story Behind the Cup?

Los Pirineos has been in Gilberto’s family since 1890. Sitting at 1400-1480m above sea level, on the potassium and phosphorus rich slopes of the “Tecapa” Volcano, Usulután – it’s nestled in the ideal coffee-growing climate. Stable rainfall and low temperatures lengthen the maturation cycle, meaning the handpicked Bourbon elite coffee beans or Pacamara, (originally descended from Reunion Island) are imbued with more complex sugars, yielding deeper more complex flavours.

However, a winning coffee relies on more than climate. Gilberto has a meticulous approach to quality. The small-scale producer has devoted his plantation to perfection. Los Pirineos, spotless micro-mill features Colombian-style Aqua depulpers, and the fine-tuned drying-mill uses Brazilian technology such as the “Guardiola” mechanical dryer. Gilberto has harmonized several washed and natural processing techniques; raised African drying beds, clay drying patios, shade drying and even secondary washing.

Drying coffee in El SalvadorBeautifully processed in a beautiful landscape.

I feel farmer doesn’t do justice to Gilberto’s devotion. He’s a technologist, a flavour-engineer. He undertakes “experiments” with 77 varietals in his nursery-workshop in pursuit of the ultimate cup profile. Varieties include Geishas, Java, Kenias, Rume Sudan, Ramon, Ipar 59 to Serpen Florens. He trials, semi-washed, washed, pulped naturals, naturals processes and even shade-netting. Gilberto even champions eco-friendly innovations; cherry mucilage is converted to a nutrient-rich coffee tree fertilizer using Californian red worms and he recycles and re-uses rainwater for processing.

Here’s the process:

How Did I Brew It?

I experimented with V60, AeroPress and French press. But I achieved best results, when I raced down to the “Fine Grind Espresso Bar” (Tunbridge Wells, UK) to pull some espressos on their handmade La Marzocco machine. The owner, Matt, driven by minutiae, pours his heart in coffee in pursuit of the divine “god shot” and relished the prospect of a cupping an exotic, unfamiliar coffee.

How Did It Taste?

In a sentence, it had the intense fruity flavour-profile of a natural Ethiopian Yirgacheffe or Kenyan AA with the full and smooth, velvety mouth-feel I expect from a Guatemalan Antiguan. It was crisp, clean and short. Tusell Tostadores had mastered the roasting. At first sip of the medium-roasted espresso, blueberries (or red grape) notes exploded on my pallet. This smooth, full bodied sensation lasted for several seconds before dissipating. There was no lingering unpleasant aftertaste or “tang”… I was in coffee heaven.

Anyone who drinks coffee will love this. My father adored it and my non-specialty coffee drinking colleagues praised it (it wasn’t too fruity but “tasted like coffee”). To me, it shows what coffee can be…

We cupped espresso & flat whites and Matt’s reaction (in the video below) says it all..

Pure enjoyment.



Coffee Dilemma

Equator Coffees

Fratello Coffee

Ground Work Coffee


Tim Wendelboe

Cafe Imports

Perfect Daily Grind.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave A Reply