It would seem logical that the smallest Central American coffee-growing country would produce microlots, but historically, much of the coffee was blended and sold to mills, without much lot differentiation and separation. The rise of specialty coffee in El Salvador has inspired many producers to start to identify and isolate individual varieties, and to experiment with sorting and processing, as a way of attracting buyers and getting higher prices, but access to those resources can still be difficult for smaller growers.
For the past few years, Café Imports green buyer Piero Cristiani—who is from El Salvador, and whose mother has a long history in coffee there—has embarked on a project designed to identify, reward, and bring to market the exceptional results of the hard, innovative work that producers are increasingly interested in doing here.
Focusing on the region of Chalatenango, Piero has partnered with a cupper and a local mill to buy small, select microlots from producers—some separated by variety, some by process, and some by both. We are buying the coffee in parchment and doing the ruling and final sorting and bagging ourselves, which allows for more quality control as well as the ability to package some of these very special small lots in custom 35-kilo Pequeños bags, to create more widespread access to these coffees to roasters.
Rosa Elida Flores and her husband Angelino Landaverd owns a 4-hectare farm that's planted with about 3,000 trees per manzana with primarily three different varieties: Gesha, Pacamara, and Pacas. The coffee is picked ripe and depulped right away before being fermented in open tanks for between 8–9 hours, then washed and laid on raised beds for around 14 days, depending on the climate. The coffee is moved and rotated evey 15 minutes throughout the drying process for the first few days, until it becomes more stable, then it is rotated every 30 minutes or so for the duration.
The farm produces about 1000 quintales per year, and the land is also newly planted with lemon and avocado trees for shade and biological/commercial diversity. The coffee-leaf rust is less of a threat lately as Rose and Angelino are combatting it very actively on the farm, and are able to expand his land by a few manzanas every year to grow the production. The farm was inherited from Angelino's father, and through improvements every year and processing innovations, Angelino hopes to continue to improve his quality, as coffee is the main source of his family's livelihood.
We are proud to offer these micro-microlots, and can’t wait for you and your customers to experience the delicious stuff that comes in these small packages.