||El Salvador Finca San José Washed Elefante 2018
Finca San José is the pride and joy of the Rodríguez family, and is now in the hands of a fourth and fifth 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. He was then followed by Jose Maria Rodriguez, who took care of the farm until it came to Gloria Mercedes Rodriguez Fontán, the most recent owner.
Ever the strong woman, Gloria has overcome gender barriers in an industry that has historically been the province of men, and she 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.
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 northwestern slope of an extinct volcanic crater, which holds a small lagoon inside it. The lagoon is named Nymph Lagoon, due to the abundance of water lilies.
San José has seventeen 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 coffee's end quality.
One of Gloria’s major blessings is to have Antonio Avelino as her farm manager or 'mandador'. 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 metres above sea level, an average temperature of 17°C, and rich and loamy clay soil; and the coffee grown is mainly Bourbon variety.
Some other works done to the farm recently included three foliar fertilizations and two soil fertilizations, including one of organic fertilizer named 'Huisil', which is based on soil studies to ensure specific requirements. Where possible, workers ply the farm with stem bending or 'agobio', and they perform coffee shade pruning to balance sunlight and shade requirements under sustainable levels. They also perform weed control, 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 tiny lot resulted after a very lucky varietal observation 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 José, 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 twelve 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 with 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 while 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.
In the cup a golden sugar like sweetness meets champagne in the most unlikely of pairings. The peach acidity and brown sugar sweetness runs through the aftertaste.
Country: El Salvador
Nearest city: El Saitillal
Farm: Finca San José
Owner: Gloria Mercedes Rodriguez Fontán
Farm manager: Antonio Avelino
Type of shade: Pepeto, inga sp, and other native trees
Processing method: Washed
Average annual rainfall: 2,100 mm
Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
Average temperature: 17º C
Type of soil: Clay loam
Mill and company where lot was processed: Beneficio El Carmen, Agrícola San Agustín, S.A. de C.V.
Fauna: Armadillo, grey fox, small wildcats, agouti paca, hawks, pocket gopher, magpie, turquoise-browed Motmot, and others.
GPS coordinates: Latitude: N 13º 52? 52.3?? / Longitude: W 89º 48? 24.5??
Medium to medium dark - you want to be hearing the the first pops of second as it hits the cooling tray, without slowing the roast down too much.
"Quick Look" Guide
Golden sugar, champagne, peach, brown sugar.
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