Cupping notes: Pineapple candy, dried citrus, marshmallow, sweet spice, caramel
Country: El Salvador
Region: Apaneca Ilamatepec Mountain Range
Subregion: Santa Ana
Farm: Santa Maria
Producer/Cooperative/Farmer: Alvarez Family
Altitude: 1,300 masl.
Washing Station: El Borbollon
Soil: Sandy Loam
Screen Size: 15+
Finca Santa Maria focuses on the Red Bourbon and Pacas varietals utilizing the “shadow tree” technique. Planting under the cover of taller native trees for natural shade, this method is bird friendly, conserves and enhances soil quality, and helps trees to resist disease and the toll of insects. Ripe cherries are floated and then slow dried for 18 days on raised beds and clay patios, the latter are a tradition in this region and more heat absorbent (endothermic) than concrete. Clay slows drying for improved consistency and results in the cup.
The Alvarez family combine more than a century of growing experience in the lush Santa Ana region, where the original family estate was divided into two smaller farms – Finca La Reforma and Finca Santa Maria. Rafael Alvarez Lalinde established the original farm in 1892 on the slopes of Santa Ana’s famed Apaneca Ilamatepec Mountain Range. Originally from Colombia, Rafael immigrated to El Salvador with the best seedlings from his homeland to begin anew and create the legacy that would inspire the family passion for coffee from one generation to the next. Rafael’s descendants own and manage La Reforma and Santa Maria, as well as the El Borbollon mill (established in 1985). An on-site mill is unique in El Salvador where most farms deliver their cherry to external operations for processing. Coffee grown by La Reforma and Santa Maria is handpicked by trained staff and collected in traditional weave baskets from December to March and dispatched to El Borbollon for processing. Every aspect of the journey from harvest to export is managed by the family to ensure the standard of excellence their reputation is honed on.
The Alvarez family invests in the local community and recently partnered with the El Salvador NGO, Libras De Amor, to improve nutrition for children in rural communities. The family also provides considerable ongoing support to community schools and free healthcare clinics to their farm workers and medical care for surrounding villages.
The Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range is a UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve. Nearly 4,000 ha. has been allocated to conservation as natural protected areas (nine core zones), with 39,500 ha. dedicated to shade-grown coffee plantations. These plantations connect the core zones to one other, facilitating the flow of the flora and fauna that forms the foundation of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
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