EL SALVADOR EL CARMEN ESTATE, ROUNDSQUARE ROASTERY, AYR

One of the most exciting aspects of living in the state of Michigan was the preponderance of third wave coffee in almost every town, no matter the size. Whether in PlymouthTraverse CitySaugutuck or Kalamazoo, you could always reliably find a good cup of coffee.

Scotland has been going through a similar transition of late, specialty coffee roasters popping up in places you wouldn’t expect: Steampunk in North Berwick, Glen Lyonin Aberfeldy, and now Roundsquare in Ayr in south west Scotland. It’s a sign that the culture is spreading outwith the two big cities, and it makes living in this beautiful country just a little bit better.

Roundsquare keep their coffee offerings to a minimum, allowing them to concentrate on quality. Their website currently lists a house blend, two limited edition Christmas blends, a decaf and two single origins. Rather than scrolling through endless options before becoming frustrated and failing to decide (or as I call it, clothes shopping), it’s simple to choose one coffee and feel confident that it was sourced and roasted with care.

And so it proves with the El Salvador El Carmen Estate, a fourth-generation-owned farm located in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, one of El Salvador’s prime coffee growing regions. Interestingly, El Carmen Estate has diversified into coffee tourism of late, offering tours and hotel accommodation to supplement their coffee farming.

The coffee comes in a simple black stand-up pouch with simple design on the front and info label on the back. The info label informs that the coffee is a medium roast, but doesn’t mention a processing method (a quick internet search tells me that it is fully washed).

The dry fragrance is a delectable fusion of hazelnut, marzipan, lemon zest and cocoa - it might just be an element of seasonal persuasion, but there seemed to be a definite Christmassy essence to the overall scent.

The brewed cup offers pure balance: a light citrus brightness coupled with a silky smooth mouthfeel and notes of burnt sugar and toffee. A medium body adds depth and helps to reinforce and support the higher notes into the finish.

As the cup cools the brightness increases in volume and the previously muted fruit notes (grape? Blackberry?) begin to stand out. The balanced character of the coffee stands its ground, however, allowing the cup to cool pleasantly and without a hint of astringency.

Overall, Roundsquare’s El Salvador is a quintessential Central American coffee: subtle, balanced, hints of lemon and cocoa in the fragrance and a clean finish. It’s highly drinkable and a definite crowd pleaser, which is always helpful around this time of year.

With the increase in third wave roasters opening around Scotland, the public will continue to learn of the possibilities that specialty coffee offers. It is in communities such as Ayr that companies like Roundsquare will lead this educating mission, consistently producing quality coffee that encourages people to come back, cup after cup.

Region: Ataco

Altitude: 1300

Process: Fully Washed

Varietal: Red Bourbon

ReviewsFionn Pooler1