A drawing of the Moreno family farm: El Filo
Roasters have favourite coffees (don’t let them tell you differently). They change from time to time because of the season (Finca Chayote and Autumn weather pair well), because of their unusual or unique taste profile ( Tana Toraja PB or Kochere) or because they are an excellent representation of their variety & terroir (Karinga AB). The coffee produced by Jesus Moreno on his family farm El Filo is all of these things, but for us at Belleville we have a special love for this coffee that is both sentimental & historical (ok mostly sentimental).
When we opened Belleville last September we had two coffees1. Hunapu from Guatemala & Jesus Moreno from Honduras. This is an absurdly small offering for a coffee roaster, even one just starting out, and we were incredibly fortunate that our wholesale partners (and you!) trusted us enough to forgive our limited coffee choices. Really though, I think a lot of the credit for our initial success was not the patience of the coffee shops we worked with, but the incredible complexity of the coffee produced by Jesus Moreno. When you have a coffee like Jesus Moreno2 maybe you don’t need to have a lot of other options.
El Filo, in the Santa Barbara region of Honduras, sits on a sloping hill that overlooks lake Yojoa (Lago de Yojoa). This micro-region, called El Cedral, produces excellent coffees, including that of Neptaly Bautista3. El Filo sits between 1540 and 1580 meters above sea level. The Moreno family has farmed here for many years, primarily Daniel Moreno the father and patriarch. In the late 1990s, after spending time in the United States, Miguel Moreno returned to Honduras and convinced his father, Daniel, that the family should focus on coffee farming. Today the family farm is split into parcels between Daniel, his 6 sons (Miguel, Danny, Jesus, Mario, Olvin & Gerardo) and his grandson, Dolmin. The 3 generations farm together at El Filo, led by Miguel, the eldest brother, however each parcel is harvested and processed separately. The coffee we bag under the name Jesus Moreno comes exclusively from Jesus’ parcel of El Filo.
The view of Lake Yojoa from El Filo
Pacas, the variety of coffee grown at El Filo is a descendent of the Bourbon Variety, first discovered on the Ile de la Reunion, one of the two parent varieties of Arabica. The incredible molasses-like sweetness of this coffee is an instant reminder of this lineage. Like most Central American coffees it is a washed process coffee which contributes to it’s sparklingly clean cup and medium body. In the case of the coffee from El Filo, the fermentation and washing is carried out at a micro mill on the farm.
What makes this coffee special is the combination of these somewhat typical (if extraordinary) characteristics with flavours of ripe berries and a complex acidity reminiscent of tropical fruit. These are flavours more commonly associated with African coffees. For example, after brewing a cup of Jesus Moreno, one prominent coffee professional told us we had accidentally mislabeled a bag of Kenya as Honduras. This combination of syrupy sweetness, ripe berries and tropical fruit is distinct to the very best coffees from this region. It’s a coffee that can respond to a number of different cravings, for those looking for sweetness and maybe a bit of chocolate it’s in there, for those looking for bright fruit flavours, that’s in there too. The balance of flavours is the key. With our roasting at Belleville we always strive for a delicious balance in the cup and Jesus’ coffee, more than most, exemplifies this balance, before we even roast it.
Coffees like this don’t turn up everyday. They’re the result of rigorous, quality focused farming, as well as, the work of the Dry Mil (San Vicente) and our importing partners at Collaborative Coffee Source who have made it possible for us to roast this coffee for you the past two years and hopefully for years to come. Unfortunately, like many delicious things in life, there isn't a lot of this coffee. Jesus Moreno produced only 7 bags (483 Kg) this year — we’re honoured to be able to roast all of it for you.
There are favourite coffees and there are special coffees and the coffee from Jesus Moreno is both. I hope you all get a chance to taste this year’s harvest.
- and I had a moustache.
- Admittedly as Thomas put it, …«son nom est vendeur»
- New harvest coming soon.