El Salvador – El Pepeton
El Pepeton, 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. El Pepeton is a parcel of land spanning 7 Hectares (10 Manzanas), which sits between 1350 and 1500 masl, situated just above the central region of the estate. The coffee picked is a Bourbon varietal that has been
grown under the shade of trees in the nutrient rich volcanic soil.
The family are currently going through the process of replacing old coffee plants across the farm and are looking to improve quality and yield for future harvests. In addition to Bourbon, there are also sections of Orange Bourbon and Pacamara in the higher reaches of the estate, which are ready to harvest this year. The estate has also re-introduced the old practice of ‘agobia’, which involves cutting and growing to improve the yield.
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. Upon arrival, it is pulped and the cherries are emptied into tanks of water, which are then used to move the cherries up a pump and into a depulper, that removes the skin of the cherry from the beans. The beans are then moved into channels of fermentation tanks, where they will rest for 13 to 15 hours and the naturally present bacteria and microbes will break
down the sugars and alcohols in the mucilage of the bean. The beans are then washed again before being transported to the drying patio, where they are then dried for a period of 8 – 10 days.