Edwin Martinez is the third generation of a family of coffee producers at Finca Vista Hermosa in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala. The Martinez family has been growing award winning coffee since 1959. The elevation of the finca is very high ranging from 1550 meters to over 1800 meters among some of the steepest, roughest mountains in Central America.
Barefoot Coffee has partnered with Finca Vista Hermosa since 2004 and they were one of Barefoot's first Direct Trade coffees before it was even a term or a program. Finca Vista Hermosa has won countless awards and is currently sold out for the life of their farm with a very long waiting list of roasters trying to buy their coffee.
Gloria Rodriguez is the owner of a group of farms she collectively calls Stricta Alturra. Al of her micro farms are located in the Apaneca region of western El Salvador. She has won an award in the Cup of Excellence every year she has entered. The farms consist of Finca San Jose, Finca El Porvenir, Finca Nejapa, Nueva Granada and La Lagunitas along with her daughter and son-in-laws farm La Gloria. All the farms are on the same volcano and all are within a very close proximity. The elevation ranges from 1400 to 1650 meters and the farms are planted in about 85% Bourbon, about 5% Caturra, 5% Pacamara and 5% Pacas with a few other micro varietals in specific lots.
Barefoot Coffee has been partnered with Gloria Rodriguez for over for years and has long term contracts with her family for the next four years as well.
Finishing up our last day in El Salvador after three weeks of being here we are pretty darned comfortable living and driving and getting around. I have morphed into a veritable microbusero and am weaving in and out of traffic like a pro. It has been awesomely cool and fresco here with a few days of pretty hot but overall awesomely wonderful. Somehow the humid heat does not make us feel as hot as the dry heat of California. not sure why.
This was a fantastic trip in many ways, mostly because I got to take my whole family this time. Nanelle and Emme have been before last year. But this was the first time with Jacob and Aaron as well. Lots of talk time and hang out time together. Priceless.
We visited several fincas including Gloria's Finca San Jose and La Lagunita in Apaneca. The farms are lush and full with coffee. The cherries are ripe and sweet and ready to rock. This years harvest looks to be larger and better quality than even last years awesome results. Can't wait to come back next month and cup all of the microlots from her six micro fincas.
We also went to Finca Aconcagua, Finca Las Mercedes and Malacara B. We got to see the cutting at Malacara of tablon 5. The trees at Malacara are very tall and very lush. The harvest looks like it will be far bigger and better than last year even. Aconcagua has a new tablon 15 of all Pacamara on the very top of the mountain underneath huge looming cedar trees. the soil is DEEP with pine needles and compost and the trees are lush even though only four years old. This year will be the first harvest ready for export of this lot. Cant wait.
We got to taste quite a few varietals side by side which is always awesome. Not talking about tasting the coffee but picking the cherries right off the tree and tasting them side by side. There is nothing quite as rewarding as walking through a lush and healthy coffee finca at harvest time and picking ripe coffee cherries and eating them amongst the trees.
The varietals we tasted side by side:
My five year old daughter Emme liked the red bourbon best. She can now even pick out a Bourbon tree apart from other varietals. She is strong in coffee. She is bringing a whole bag of coffee seeds home to plant. Aaron liked the Elephante best followed by the orange bourbon. Jacob liked the yellow bourbon best. Nanelle liked the elephante best and red bourbon second. I liked the elephante best and maragogype second.
We tasted them as we walked around the farms and compared them. I also gathered two of each type and did a direct side by side tasting of red, yellow and orange bourbon, pacamara, yellow caturra and elephante. That was amazing. The flavors of the cherries are reflected in the flavors of the coffee. In some cases we are working towards separating these varietals and colors and offering them separately. In other lots we are finding that the mix of colors and varietals makes a flavor that is greater than the sum of its parts so we are looking to keep their mix intact. At all farms we are instigating separate picking of red and yellow and even varietals but then mixing the same lot together or keeping them separate depending on best flavor.
overall the coffee in El Salvador is looking to deliver amazing sweetness and flavor this coming harvest. I for one can barely wait.
Going back to Guatemala and El Salvador at the end of the month.