Barista Review: Organic Nicaragua El Pastoral Natural

Barista Review: Organic Nicaragua El Pastoral Natural
This summer’s Seasonal Select is my favorite one this year so far. The Organic Nicaragua El Pastoral Natural is grown on Finca El Pastoral farm in Jinotega, Nicaragua. You can learn more about this family farm here

This Seasonal Select is delicious no matter what brewing method you use –  be it a French press or even a cold brew. However, my preferred brewing method for natural light roasts such as this one is a pour-over with a brew ratio between 1:15 to 1:16 parts coffee to water.

You can get the full bundle kit including the coffee here.

The sweet aroma is almost – bear with me – soft and warm like a baked dessert. It doesn’t smell too roasty or too citrusy. The mouthfeel is delicate – it’s less acidic than many light roasts and instead has a sweet brightness like tropical fruit. The cardamom notes are the most interesting to me. At first pour, the cardamom aroma stands out the most. Then, as if you just chewed some fresh, minty cardamom seeds, it hits as a mouthfeel. The actual cardamom flavor grows more apparent as the coffee cools. 

Natural process coffees are my favorite because of their complexity and the inherent craft behind the perfect cup – this process is high-risk, high-reward. The natural process, also known as the dry process, is a traditional approach that began in Ethiopia. Unlike during the washed process, the fruit is kept on the bean as it dries. The natural process requires great care because the climatic conditions must be monitored to ensure the perfect drying of the beans and fruit as they lay out to dry for weeks. The farmers must turn or rake the beans multiple times a day, and constantly ensure that the beans inside are not becoming too dry and brittle for roasting, and the fruit does not remain too wet and musty, or even moldy.  
With this fragile technique, naturals have the potential to create the most flavorful coffees because the flavor of the fruit becomes concentrated into the bean. When farmers achieve a very consistently-dried batch, natural coffees can match washed coffees in flavor clarity, plus carry more interesting notes. They can be pungent like a super-ripe tropical fruit, syrupy like a fruit compote, or herbaceous and floral like tea. 

This El Pastoral natural is a great crowd-pleaser because it carries those tropical fruit and spice notes, but is not too pungent for coffee drinkers who are newly venturing into naturals. 

Written by 
Melina Devoney 
Barista, Coffee Captain, Blogger