||El Salvador Finca San Jose Elefante 2011
Finca San José is the pride and joy of the Rodríguez family, and is now in the hands of a 4th and 5th generation of coffee producers. The story begins in 1815 when José María Rodriguez and Josefina Rodriguez (Great grandparents) planted the first coffee trees with their own hands.
Through the generations, the farm has passed through the hands of many committed farmers like José's son Israel Rodriguez, who then was followed by Jose Maria Rodriguez, who took care of the farm until the most recent owner, Gloria Mercedes Rodriguez Fontán. Ever the strong woman, Gloria has overcome gender barriers in an industry that has historically been the province of men and personally supervises every step at the farm level. Gloria not only takes care of San José, but together with her siblings' support, she manages five other small farms which collectively add up to 38 hectares.
Finca San José could be a new coffee farm to the UK specialty coffee market but it has been awarded many times by the Cup of Excellence from 2007 to 2009, and more recently as El Salvador Best of Origin and 4th overall highest score at the 2011 Coffee of The Year event held by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This proves that commitment, hope and passion will never be deceived.
The mountain slopes of Finca San José are fully shaded by trees that help to maintain and preserve the crop and the surrounding environment. In addition to the trees' diversity, the farm is home to a variety of wild animals and birds, which can be seen in their natural habitat. San José is nested in the north-western slope of an extinct volcanic crater that holds inside it a small lagoon named Nymph Lagoon, due to the abundance of water lilies.
This year San José has 17 full-time workers performing several activities such as shade tree and coffee pruning, vegetative tissue renewing, and weed control. All of this work is done skillfully by hand. Approximately 60 more seasonal workers assist in the harvest process, earning their livelihood from picking and selecting coffee cherries only at the peak of ripeness. The people who harvest coffee have extensive experience and share a commitment of growing a superior quality coffee.
Gloria believes in maintaining highly motivated staff; the farm's permanent workers are receiving almost 10% above the legal wage, while the seasonal workers received almost 50% more during harvest due to the importance of this specific task for the end quality.
One of Gloria’s major blessings is to have Antonio Avelino as her farm manager or “mandador”, as his level of commitment, knowledge, and shared philosophy of quality makes him an integral part of this effort.
At Finca San José, coffee goes through extensive quality control in addition to being grown under standards that support specialty coffee production. The unique micro-climate conditions include an average altitude of 1,500 meters (above sea level), an average temperature of 17° C, rich loamy clay soil and the coffee is grown mainly to Bourbon variety. Some other works done to the farm this past year included the 3 foliar fertilizations and 2 soil fertilizations, including one of organic fertilizer named Huisil, based on soil studies to ensure specific requirements. Where allowed, the farm is worked with stem bending or “agobio”, and coffee shade pruning is performed to balance sunlight and shade requirements under sustainable levels. Weed control is also performed, mainly manually.
One of Gloria’s commitments is to reinvest an important share of the economic benefits from this activity into the farms, impacting the people who toil the fields and maintaining the quality of the production chain from seed to cup.
This nano-lot resulted after a very lucky varietal observation experience inside Gloria’s own farms by her son-in-law, Luis Rodriguez. While walking around the farm checking for ripeness in the previous harvest time at Finca San Jose, Luis ended in front of a huge cluster of cherries which grabbed his attention. Being a fan of coffee varieties, he realized they were facing a very interesting tree. With the help of Gloria, Maria Jose, and Antonio, he started harvesting around 12 kilos of cherries of what they called “Bourbon on steroids” which were then hand-processed by Antonio.
Everything on this plant phenotype fascinated him and he concluded it was something to follow up on. One of the most interesting facts was the amount of mucilage inside each cherry, which was a little bit more than twice as much as other varieties found at the farm.
After a few weeks, Antonio had a sample ready enough for cupping. Enough said, after a small cupping performed at their house, Luis felt in love for the amazing fruit character and sweetness behind this puzzling varietal. At the moment, the varietal is still under scrutiny by a few local geneticists but the name Elefante was given temporarily by the family because of the bigger size of this bean compared to Bourbon, which is the more common variety at the farm.
Gloria and some of the more experienced workers believe it is one line of the famous Bourbon that the former coffee research centre called ISIC selected in the process of making the improved Bourbon, or “Tekisic”. Some of these lines were spread in some areas including Apaneca; however, further investigation is still being undertaken by Luis and his family.
For this year’s crop, Gloria appointed a team of highly skilled pickers to get as much as they could from this variety, resulting in a one-bag lot exclusive for Has Bean.
In 2011, at the Specialty Coffee Association of America trade show and conference, a sample of Finca San José Elefante won El Salvador’s Best of Origin at the Roaster’s Guild - Coffee of the Year event, and also placed 4th overall in the same event, which had more than 120 submissions.
In the cup expect champagne in a mouth feel of effervescence, but also in taste with its light crisp and amazing acidity, with a wicked floral/jasmine mid-palate, that finishes with the trademark San Jose cherry. An elegant and very, very special cup.
Location: Cantón El Saitillal, Apaneca, Ahuachapán
Coffee varieties: Bourbon (Red, Orange, Yellow), Typica, Elefante.
Type of Shade: Pepeto, inga sp, and other native trees
Average Annual Rainfall: 2,100 mm
Altitude: 1,500 masl
Average Temperature: 17º C
Type of Soil: Clay loam
Annual Production: (69kg) 75 bags
Mill and company where lot was process: Beneficio El Carmen, Agrícola San Agustín, S.A. de C.V. Fauna: Armadillo, gray fox, small wildcats, agouti paca, hawks, pocket gopher, magpie, turquoise-browed Motmot, among others.
This one is great at medium roast to medium dark. Anywhere after first crack and around 20 or so seconds into second.
"Quick Look" Guide:
Champagne, floral, sweet, clean, cherry.
Good Filter: Yes, Good Espresso: No
« Back to Coffee Archive