Brian Beyke

Topeca Coffee Roasters - El Salvador El Manzano Honey - Mistobox - June 2014

Brian Beyke


An offering from Topeca Coffee Roasters in this late June Mistobox is an absolute treat.  If you are not familiar, Topeca is one of the few companies in the world with a fully vertically integrated Seed to Cup model.  Their family grows the coffee in El Salvador where they can oversee every step of the process. They have their hands in everything, from planting the coffee plant to hand picking the ripest cherries to roasting it in Tulsa, Oklahoma and serving it in their own shops in Downtown Tulsa.  With six generations deep, an offering such as this, it seems,  is a rarity to come by.  This offering is the honey-processed selection from their Finca El Manzano.  As Topeca grows, not all of their offerings will be Seed-to-Cup, so let’s dive into this offering before you check out the rest of their coffees. 

Established in 1872 by Cornelio Lemus, this Strictly High Grown (SHG) plantation is located ten miles southwest of the city of Santa Ana, in Las Cruces County, in western El Salvador. This plantation is now owned by Margarita Diaz de Lopez, great granddaughter of the founder. This medium size plantation has an area of 70 Hectares (173 Acres) and it’s the home of our coffee Mill.

Located on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano, this plantation has an elevation from 1,300 to 1,550 mts above sea level giving the farm a category of Strictly High Grown or SHG coffee. Soil:These rich volcanic slopes, have been supplied by ash and rich nutrients from the volcano of Santa Ana for millennia.

With its elevation and being in El Salvador’s Mountains, on the slopes of the Santa Ana Volcano, El Manzano’s climate varies from foggy and humid during the rainy season to dry and cold during the dry season. Temperature ranges from a high of 33 C (91 F) and low of 17 C (62 F) during April to October, and from a high of 22 C (72 F) and a low of 7 C (44 F) during November to March.

El Manzano originally was planted with 100% Typica in 1850, then substituted because of its low yield in the 1950’s by the Bourbon variety. Since 2004 new varieties have been added to this fields. About 90% is exclusively the Bourbon variety but certain, well separated, areas have been destined to other varieties like: Pacamara, Yellow Bourbon, Typica, and Kenya.

El Manzano normally begins its harvest during the first week of December and runs through the last week of March, depending on the flowering period that could vary by a couple of weeks. Production: El Manzano produces an average of 350,000 lbs, with a record crop of 580,000 lbs in 1995


Roaster: Topeca Coffee Roasters

Region: Santa Ana, El Salvador

Producer: Emilio Lopez Diaz

Process: Honey processed

Varietal: Bourbon

Elevation: 1,200 - 1,500m


Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 19.60% Ext. (Immersion mode)

Nice crisp, fruitied aroma.  

Diving in to the cup is also crisp, clean, light, softly sweet with a nutty finish.  I wasn’t sure what to expected honestly with a Honey Processed El Salvador, usually I approach the first sips bracing myself for intense berry bombs but to my surprise, it was no where to be found.  There’s an apple-like crispness to the front, almost sparkling in quality as the cup cools.  That sweetness grows as the cup sits, as well as a toffee sweetness with lighter hints of cinnamon roasted nuts that seem to come out the further you dive.  

Actually, about 7 minutes off brew the cup really does an enormous change.  Sweetness completely defines the profile, where honestly, initially it was a bit softer, nutty, and hard to define.  Juicy apple, pear, and a refreshing melon/stone fruit note growing through the swallow.  The finish still carries notes of cinnamon that now melds into the fruit notes in a pleasing manner.

The cup is presented like this:

Crisp and juicy fruit burst on the front of the sip, a berry-like splash after that transitions into a honey-like syrupiness growing and seamless shifting into spiced plum, baked apple, stewed pear meets praline, toffee, baked pie finishing.  In the aftertaste, it actually does remind you of a lot of other El Salvador profiles (lingering fruity sweetness) but it just goes about getting to that aftertaste differently than any other offering I’ve had.  Really balanced, complex fruit sweetness, softly rich, lingering finish that at it’s coolest moments seems to introduce some floral-infused honey notes and a bit of hops.  


Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) |3:20 total time | 202 degrees | 1.27 TDS | 18.80% Ext.

Buttery aroma - toffee, caramel.

Completely indictable of diving in.  Buttery, crisp, sweet, notes of almond and toffee, soft and balanced, clean mouthfeel.  A light sparkling acidity sweetened with grape and apple, lightly fruited center with dried fruits, hints of roasted notes developing in the finish.

After cooling a bit it had the same shift as noticed in the aeropress.  Crisp and juicy melon and clear fruits (cranberry, grape, plum) pop on the front and give you a nice juicy body a bit spiced like cinnamon plums, baked apple pie, even peach cobbler.  Lingering fruit sweetness, especially berry and stone fruit, carrying low notes of roasted nuts still in the finish.  The cup has a comfortably low acidity, rich and comfortably weighted body and density of complex fruit notes that produced a cup that is very easy to drink.  

The pops of fruit and juicy body is attractive enough to engage most who indulge in medium specialty coffees, and the hints of roasted nuts I think is enough to keep a darker roast coffee drinker engaged. Coffee drinkers in any capacity will find this an approachable and balanced, well structured cup.


This was a really stellar El Salvador coffee.  As I’ve said previously, honey-processed coffees at times can be a bit overwhelming, so I always approach them with a bit of hesitance.  Once I began sipping this offering my shoulders released the tension they had built during brewing and I just savored my sips for the rest of the cup.  I won’t lie, I was a bit underwhelmed when first getting into the coffee, but once that shift happened I was inundated with a delicious and flavorful offering.  The aftertaste was the highlight for me, the way the lingering notes left a complex image on your palate and mind that may or may not be what you experienced in the cup, but gave you the impression you had.  This is sure to please the entire spectrum of coffee drinkers, and again, is really awesome to experience such a seed to cup offering.  I look forward to more offerings and stories from the family for years to come.

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.