by Mike Perry, CEO and Green Coffee Buyer
Day three started early and like those before it, would be another long one. Jose Antonio Jr. and his brother Andres picked me up early from Lucia’s house and after picking up Chuck of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, this year's "Micro Roaster of the Year" and a friend who challenged me in "The Kenya Bet" (something I would remind him of often), we headed up to the Santa Ana region of El Salvador.
Immediately we went to one of his farms, San Francisco, to see the crop, visit workers, and observe many new experiments. San Francisco is unique because its drying patio used for experimental naturals is high up the mountain where the temperature is cooler and the beans dry slowly. How this would affect the cup is something we would find out later during cupping. We enjoyed the people and the beautiful view from high elevations. Another experiment (not ready to cup) were naturals on African beds under shade, a slower and longer drying process. I am looking forward in these beans later in March when they are ready to cup.
We also drove to other farms before dark and ended at the Las Cruzes mill where we would spend the night. Of course our day was far from complete as we had 40 coffees to cup. So after a wonderful meal we headed to the lab to work and cup. Favorites were the Orange Bourbon and a new natural we observed on the patios high up Finca San Francisco. Of course there were so many great coffees we decided to cup a final table of winners the next morning. Before calling it a night we toured the mill as coffee cherries were being delivered and milled.
One thing that really impressed me was that despite the ripe cherries, they had a large receiving area where a group of about 40 women were sorting the cherries to remove any that were not perfect. While I am used to seeing workers at the farm separate the cherries before turning in, and in fact I saw that at San Francisco earlier that day, I have not seen this separation again at the mill. This type of attention to detail is why coffee from JASAL is always delicious.
Starting early again on Friday morning we returned to the cupping table to confirm our notes from the night before. Again the Orange Bourbon shined as did the Yellow Bourbon. A few new farms also stepped up and we will be cupping more lots moving forward before selecting our favorites. After breakfast we hit the road to visit more farms and mills including El Molina where the Orange Bourbon comes from. In the afternoon we were able to visit Jose Antonio Sr. who was recovering from a cold (he missed hiking the farms with us). It was great to spend time together and learn about his family and farms. Jose Antonio Jr. and Andres are both sons of Sr. who have joined the family business, much like Heather and Holly with Klatch. With great pride as a father it was evident Jose Antonio Sr. demonstrated mutual feelings.
After a long day we returned to San Salvador as we had an early flight to Honduras for the next leg of our journey.
TAGS: SANTA ANA, EL SALVADOR COFFEE, ORANGE BOURBON, JASAL, FINCA SAN FRANCISCO, EL MOLINA, JOSE ANTONIO, LAS CRUZES