This wonderful farm is in its 5th year with us and we continue to develop this amazing relationship, 1 I am super proud of!
The first time we came across this farm, it came as a very well presented sample that just landed on my doorstep. It came from someone who had visited the farm and offered to try to help find a buyer for them in the UK. We get lots of these and normally give them a try on the cupping table, but find they are just not good enough for us to stock. This one was quite different: the quality was amazing. So initially we stocked it, although we knew very little about it. Since that day, I’ve been to see Alejandro five times in El Salvador, the last two times stopping at his house with his family and enjoying a day at the beach. Alejandro has also been to see us in Stafford twice. We have worked with him on projects (some successful, others we will brush over); we have also told him what we would like to see from the farm (some he took on board, others he didn’t he’s the farmer after all).
Most importantly, he has become a very very good friend, and someone whose coffee I love and company I enjoy. Alejandro took over running the farm from his father a few years ago, having returned to El Salvador after travelling around the world as an investment banker. A very intelligent guy and a very good business man, he understood the farm needed to step up in work if it was to flourish: lots of work has gone into making this cup the quality one it has become.
The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range near to the town of Turin in the Ahuachapan dept. During the non-picking season 16 people work on the farm, maintaining and tending to the plants. During the picking period this goes up to 50 people. The altitude of the farm is 1350m. The coffee is a washed process coffee, and is sun dried on patios.
The coffee is a 100% Catimor, a controversial coffee varietal. Catimor is a cross between Timor coffee (resistant to leaf rust a big problem at the moment in Central America) and Caturra coffee. It was created in of all places Portugal in 1959.
It grows and produces fruit very quickly and has a very high yields, pest resistant and leaf rust resistant and will grow at much lower altitudes well in comparison to to many other commercial varietals. Sounds perfect, but problems come in the cup quality. Timor has its feet in the robusta species (hence all these lovely benefits) but robusta is not known for being tasty.
Luckily for us, this is one of the finest examples I have seen of this varietal, and came by with Alejandro wanting to experiment and try different varietals on different parts of the farm, one being catimor.
It’s only a very small lot, but a great example of cupping a coffee with your taste buds and not what you think it might taste like. This coffee made me change my opinion of this varietal.
You may wonder why it costs more for the Catimor than it does the Bourbon? Well if the truth was known Alejandro would rather not harvest this tiny lot. It’s a pain, it has to be kept separate and processed on its own. It’s fiddly and lots of hassle. So I’d like to reward his hard work with a little bonus, and that’s what we’re doing here, to try what is normally a horrible varietal that’s delicious and interesting.
In the cup this is a delicious typical El Salvadorian coffee, smooth creamy milk chocolate. There’s also a lovely white grape and green apple character that give the cup another tasty dimension, delicious easy drinking coffee!
Country: El Salvador
Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain ranges
City: Near Turin, Ahuachapan
Farm: Finca Argentina
Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
Owner: Alejandro Martinez
Processing: Fully Washed and Sun Dried
Workers: 16 full time rising to 50 during the picking season