El Salvador Arabica Roasted Coffee
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|Owner / Farm||Hilda Contreras
|SCA Cup score and notes||85.5 Flavours of red berries, dried fruit, cocoa, hazelnuts and a gentle hint of black tea. Medium body with lasting aftertaste.
Farm: Finca San Rafael
Producer: Hilda Contreras de Zelayandia
Farm manager: Rene Contreras
Farm size: 21 hectares
Location: Monte Verde town (next to El Chingo volcano), Santa Ana department, El Salvador, Apaneca-Illamatepec Mountain Range
Altitude: 1250 - 1500 m
Soil: Alluvial clay loam
Harvest season: November to February
Average yearly rainfall: 1400 - 1600 ml
Average temperatures: 15C - 30C
Average age of trees: 3 - 30 years old
Cultivated varieties: Red Bourbon, Pacas, Pacamara, Anacafé-14
San Rafael is one of my family's 5 farms and it is managed by myself and my husband German. We also look after all the commercial side of the business, doing marketing and exports for the family. All that on top of our other jobs: I am a doctor and German is a systems engineer.
The farm is new to our family and we bought it after it was abandoned by other growers, something very common in El Salvador at the moment. Unlike the majority of producers in the country, we still believe in coffee and invest in acquiring land and improving the quality of what we do.
As my husband says, "In coffee, you either dive in it or you don't mess with it at all." We are the diver type. We started investing in new processing methods, like anaerobic fermentation, in the last couple of years. We also take a proactive (rather than reactive) approach to farming, spraying fungicides and slow-release fertilizers around the farm 3 times a year to prevent diseases. Better safe than sorry.
My family's story with coffee began with my great-grandfather, a Guatemalan sugar cane producer who came to El Salvador in the late 1800s to marry my great-grandmother, a coffee producer. That was the first generation of coffee growers and they started a love story with the bean that we make sure to carry on and pass it to our kids, who will be the 5th generation.
My family never stopped evolving in coffee. The second generation, my grandparents, introduced the use of fertilizers to increase production levels. They didn't have to worry about leaf rust or anthracnosis back then, so didn't have to use pesticides. My grandparents grew the farm's volumes and managed to send all their 6 kids to university.
The third generation, my parents, already combined other careers with coffee production. My dad worked for the government for many years but never left the farm aside. His brothers and sisters are also all involved in coffee. They learned from the previous generation but also introduced new varieties to the farms and built their own processing facility. My father later built a new mill for our farms focusing on micro-lots.
My brother, two sisters and I are the fourth generation in coffee. We all have other jobs and found our own way to continue working at the farms. We take care of the commercial side and have been exporting directly for 5 years now. We also invest in quality control and new processing methods. We have acquired raised beds to dry our naturals and tanks for anaerobic fermentation.
As a company, we invest in social projects and education at El Paste school. We organize free medical care days to provide appointments to the workers and supply them monthly bags with basic food items. We do some fun stuff too. We have taken the workers on family trips to the Metalío beach in Sonsonate and also to the Metapan lake!