||El Salvador Finca Argentina Estate Washed Bourbon Petites 2018
||Varietal: Bourbon Petites
I've been working with Alejandro Martinez since way, way back in 2008, and in that time our relationship has gone from strictly professional to Alé being one of my closest friends. He became involved in coffee in 2008 as he had just relocated to El Salvador from New York, where he'd been working as a city banker. With his first son on the way and the hustle and bustle of New York no place to bring up a family, the draw of home and El Salvador was just far too strong to ignore.
While looking for work in El Salvador, Alé decided to help his father with some of his business interests and investments. His father had inherited several coffee farms from his grandfather and was unsure what to do with them. One of the investments pricked Alé’s interest, and this was a farm called Finca Argentina. The reason it really got Alé's attention was that he saw the farm once yielded loads of coffee but was producing a fraction of its old productivity. His father gave him permission to see what could be done to make the farm successful again.
Ale found out the farm had been classified for a Q auction back in 2005. Thinking there may be a specialty buyer out there, he and his cousin (who lived in London) went about sending samples to coffee roasters anywhere they could. One of those samples arrived at Hasbean Towers, just like a lot of other samples do; unusually, I liked the coffee, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Since then Finca Argentina has gone from strength to strength, but not without bumps in the road. In 2013 they suffered the worst harvest on record, with only 70 bags harvested due to a massive issue with leaf rust. But with investment and hard work, they have also bought a neighbouring farm, and the future is amazingly bright for Alé, his father, his family and Finca Argentina.
The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range, and is near the town of Turin in the Ahuachapán department. Sixteen people work on the farm during the non-picking season, maintaining and tending to the plants. This number of workers goes up to 50 people during the picking period. The altitude of the farm is 1,300 m.a.s.l.
For the last few years, Alé has been working hard to taste the coffee coming from each part of Argentina, which he splits down into Tablons (basically, small plots within the farm). As part of this, he would separate for us any which stood out and we offered them to you as microlots whilst, the main bulk of the crop (mostly from the Fincona 2 area) became what we called Argentina Estate. This year will be a little different because of a couple of things - let me explain.
If you tried the “San Jorge” Bourbon last year, you might remember that we warned you it was going to be it’s last year. This was because Alé took out that plant stock and planted Yellow Pacamara plants there, we even helped him source the plant stock from Nicaragua! Whilst we’re really looking forward to tasting these, it usually takes 2 or 3 years before coffee plants start producing a crop - so we won’t see anything from San Jorge this year or next. I got to see the planting on my last visit to the farm and it's already looking amazing, really excited for what's to come in a few years!
On top of this, Alé’s not had a great year for production volumes - for various small reasons, the crop is smaller than he expected. The good news is, it still tastes great! With less coffee available from the farm, we’ve taken the decision not to offer any of the different Tablons as individual lots but to just offer the Estate. There’ll still be a couple of options - we’ll have the Catimor and the Petite Bourbon selection both available - but don’t expect quite as much variety from the farm this year and don’t expect it to last as long either!
We’re hoping things improve for Alé next year and until then we hope you enjoy the delicious coffee we have here.
Petites are historically the 10% or so coffee that gets thrown away after processing because it's smaller than the normal size - In the old commodity days when picking and sorting were less uniform, the fastest method to create that uniformity was to sort the size of the bean, larger beans being thought to be the best.
They were not the best, just like peaberry's are not the best, just different.
At farms where picking and sorting are done well, petites have the ability to be even better than their larger brother and sisters, and slightly different. And instead of them being blended away into commodity coffee there's an opportunity to add more value to the producer when crops are small.
In the cup this is going to be sweet. Think oranges and passionfruit to start and then some familiar white grape coming through on the aftertaste.
Country: El Salvador
Nearest city: Turin
Farm: Finca Argentina
Owner: Alejandro Martinez
Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: Bourbon Petites
Processing method: Washed
Drying method: Patios
Medium to medium dark - keep this a little lighter than the larger beans from the farm, through first and just get to the end of the gap before dropping.
"Quick Look" Guide
Orange, passionfruit, white grape.
Note: Cupping Scores for Clean Cup, Acidity, Balance & Overall are actually 6.5 each, not as above (software limitation, allows whole numbers only)
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