It's been a packed first two days in El Salvador. We, Liz, Klatch Associate Barista Trainer and I, departed LAX at 12:30am for a red eye into San Salvador. Upon arrival producer Lucia Ortiz of Las Mercedes picked us up at the airport and took us straight to the farm. We drove around and hiked most of the morning, we also talked to the pickers, and sampled some wonderful cherries. Later that afternoon a band of 20 coffee thieves were caught and taken away by local police. During the past year we have heard of growing problems with thieves but this time we actually saw the group of bandits arrested. But the captures were not the highlight of the day, that evening we watched as the cherries were delivered to the mill and processed - our Pacamara was picked that day and processed specially for us, a very fun and exciting event to see our own coffee beans being processed, cannot wait to receive our new crop back home. Las Mercedes is truly an exceptional farm.
On our second day in El Salvador, I awoke up to gun shots and learned that another 20 something coffee thieves were captured. After an unusual wake up call and breakfast we all head to Las Mercedes clinic to tour the facilities and visit the great people severing ten local communities. With the partnership of our friends at PT's coffee, Klatch and PT's have been able to assist the local communities with medical treatments at the clinic. It's wonderful to see such good work being done. Following our visit to the clinic we went to hike through Pepinal 1, the lot where Heather was proposed to by Ryan, last year. During our hike we heard another gunshot nearby. Valentine, one of the workers at Las Mercedes found another group of coffee bandits. Many of them ran, one attempted to jump of ledge to escape and was injured. This ongoing growing problem seems to be a result of coffee prices climbing, making coffee one hot commodity in El Salvador. Roberto, Lucias husband and Las Mercedes co-producer told the thieves that if they wanted work they should have asked - they would been hired but to steal was wrong and only harming the community. In total, over 75 coffee thieves were captured in less than 24 hours.
Later that day, we headed into the city to meet with Frederico, owner of Viva Espresso. We watched and judged three baristi performances who will be competing in the El Salvador National Competition. For those of you who do not know, Viva Espressos baristas have won the national title in the past three years. It was an honor to taste and judge everything they created, all three presentations were original and fun routines that are sure to please at competition.
There is so much more to tell not enough time, please check back soon for updates on our current trip. We will be finishing up the week in El Salvador sourcing new coffee and finish the last leg of our trip next week in Guatemala. Nonetheless, the new crop is going to be huge. We are so excited and want everyone to try coffee from Las Mercedes, in an honor of our visit to El Salvador Las Mercedes we would like extend a 10% OFF ALL LAS MERCEDES COFFEE (100% Bourbon, Pepinal 1, Pacamara, La Avila Honey, and Wedding Blend) from Thursdays, January 27 to Sunday, January 30th. Enter LASMERC2011 at checkout.