El Salvador – El Pepeton Natural
El Pepeton is a parcel of land spanning 7 Hectares (10 Manzanas), which sits between 1350 and 1500 masl, on the El Cipres estate. The coffee picked is a Bourbon varietal that has been grown under the shade of trees in the nutrient rich volcanic soil.
El Cipres farm is located on the North West slopes of the Picacho Volcano in the Bálsamo-Quezaltepec coffee region, within the municipality of Nejapa, San Salvador. The farm was originally bought in 1880 by Dr. Emilio Alvarez Lalinde, when his family migrated to El Salvador from Colombia. The family brought with them their strong ancestral links and vast knowledge of coffee production. In 1992 the estate was taken over by the Alvares Gallardo family, who brought a new passion and dedication to the farm, working hard to achieve RFA certification, in addition to improving all aspects of the estate.
The estate is made up of 90 hectares of coffee producing land and 5 hectares of natural forest, which has allowed the wildlife to flourish. Starting at 1070 masl, the farm is a long thin strip of land which climbs up to 1800 masl, producing 3000 bags annually.
The family have been going through the process of replacing old coffee plants across the farm and improving quality and yield. In addition to Bourbon, there are also sections of Orange Bourbon and Pacamara in the higher reaches of the estate. The estate has also re-introduced the old practice of ‘agobia’, cutting and growing which has significantly improved the yield. This involves bending the trees over tying them down so old growth continues to produce while new shoots grow vertically.
There is a strong emphasis on community at the El Cipres Estate. In addition to their RFA certification, the family strive to ensure all workers are treated with respect and dignity. The permanent staff who live on the farm all year round have their food subsidised by the farm owner and during the picking season, all staff receive daily meals and coffee. The houses of the permanent staff have also been provided with new efficient reduced smoke cooking stoves, in addition to the installation of volcanic stones which act as filters for the wastewater, to reduce pollutants reaching the soils.
Once the coffee has been harvested it then travels to the El Borbollon mill, which is located in Santa Ana. This year our partner Falcon Coffees asked for a natural lot to be produced using the ripe cherry selected from the best sections of the farm. Once it arrives at El Borbollon the cherry is floated and separated to ensure only ripe cherries are used in producing the lot. Once ready the cherry is moved to the patio late in the afternoon so the beans lose the initial moisture without ‘heat shock’ from the strong afternoon sun. They are then left for 48hrs to settle and not raked to prevent the skin of the cherry being damaged whilst soft. The coffee is then turned every 45 minutes – 1 hour on the patio until it reaches moisture of 11%. Usually the drying on the patio will take between 10-14 days. From here it is then left to rest in bags in grain pro to settle for 30 days before being hulled ready for shipment.