New Coffee arrived: Direct from ‘Nombre de Dios’ Farm in El Salvador to Salzburg!

Posted by john 3 Comments

Just two weeks ago: Farmer Mrs Maria Elena Botto sending us photos of herself and

It is with great pride that we present our new coffee from El Salvador:  Directly from Farmer Mrs Maria Elena Botto.

I first met Maria three years ago, as she was presenting her farm in Oslo, and I met her again last year during the 2010 Cup of Excellence in El Salvador: I was there as part of the International Jury, and had an invitation to come to her farm ‘Nombre de Dios‘ and stay there for a couple of days.

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The Nombre de Dios farm is located in northern El Salvador, close to the border of Honduras and Guatemala, in the highlands of Alotepec-Metapán Mountain Range at some 1,500 meters above sea level, between the towns of Metapán, Santa Ana and Citalá in Chalatenango.

The history of the farm goes back to the early 1900’s, when Samuel Luna had a vision for progress and development for the Metapán area. Nombre de Dios San Juan, a fraction of the original “Hacienda San Miguel Ingenio y El Pinar”, is a legacy planted by grandfather Juan Ramón Calderón in the 60’s. Since 2002, Nombre de Dios is run by María Elena and her two sisters, a fourth generation coffee growers; who foresaw an opportunity for the coffee industry despite the world coffee price crisis.

All three sisters’ families work as a team. Maria Elena’s administrative work is supported by her husband Salvador and her son Javier, who lead the cultural practices at the farm. The family is deeply involved in the business plan for Nombre de Dios. And they are working in diversification and coffee quality improvement.

Cultural practices such as pruning, weed control and fertilization after soil analysis results are carefully carried out on this shaded coffee farm. Broca (Coffee Berry Borer -the most annoying little insect) is controlled with traps. Taking care of a coffee nursery (new coffee seedlings) is one permanent activity. Nowadays, they have begun to test organic fertilizers based on mill by-products and sea weeds. New nurseries are also part of their activities.

Isai, Javier

These activities employ 10 workers from March through September. At harvest, which in Latin America is between December to February, the number of workers increases to 120! The growth and development of the community is a priority for the family; they donated land where a school, a clinic, a foot-ball field and a church were built. Since the year 2000 electricity is also available for the community. They also took some steps to get computers for the school though a program from USAID, CARE and the Agriculture Ministry. Special emphasis is also placed to keep the environment and so they recently donated trees to reforest the school surroundings.

Between harvests, the coffee fields needs maintenance; when I visited, chalk was spread on young plants.

The 2010-2011 crops were washed with the cleanest water (this is of very high importance!), processed at their own, brand new “Beneficio Alotepeque”mill, an eco friendly mill that uses less water and is energy saving. The coffees are sun dried at their own patios

Nombre de Dios invested in an eco friendly coffee mill that uses less water and is energy saving. The Coffee cherries are here

Nombre de Dios won the prestigeous Cup of Excellence Competition with specially selected coffee bags in 2005, 2007 and 2008, and this allowed them to attract interest from buyers, and also develop other projects to serve the local market with processed coffee. Maria Elena and her family strongly believe that CoE has allowed them and the country to regain origin recognition in the Coffee World Market. They are fully motivated to continue improving quality and productivity, and specialize in top quality coffee production.

Mrs Maria Elena Botto and happy me: this wonderful woman showed me the most beautiful parts of her Country last year.

As I walked through the farm -partly in beautiful blossom- last year in May,  Javier said his goal was to enter CoE also with a good selection of the 2010-2011 harvest -and to be among the winning farms. He succeeded, and the CoE bags was sold directly to a Coffee House in Korea. Congratulations!

Nombre de Dios is a beautifully shaded Coffee farm situated in the highlands. This is of high importance to the Coffee Trees. ‘Coffea Arabica‘ is a shrub or small tree which thrives in tropical mountain cloud forests: the plant is tropical, but adapted to the cold air and cloudy forests of eastern highland Africa. When these conditions are replicated in Latin America, the Coffee Tree gives tasty fruits.

Javier grows several varieties on the farm; there is a diversity of soil and shade trees which gives him the opportunity to see what varieties grows better where. Maria sent us green bean samples of the varieties ‘Coffea Arabica  Caturra” from one field, and of a ‘Coffea Arabica’  “bourbon” from another field. We roasted and brewed the samples, and decided to buy both! In addition, Maria had another treat: from the ‘bourbon’ selection,  Javier had processed some bags without the use of water:

The ‘natural processed’ coffee is a way of drying the coffee cherries in the sun alone, a process which is used in countries and regions where there is less water available. This method was also more frequent in El Salvador before the Civil Wars. The ‘washed’ method is now the most wide spread way of cleaning the green beans after pulping: the sweet fruit covering the bean is soaked in very clean and cold water for hours until enzymes loosen the pulp entirely from the seed; thus, the green bean can be dried without picking up unwanted flavours from the surroundings. A thorough and clean washing process gives a clean, untainted bean that will keep its characteristics during months of storage until it one day is roasted. But cold water is needed, and incredibly clean routines.

‘Natural processed’ coffee need a lot of attention too: a stable temperature is provided by spreading the cherries on patios only in the morning hours -after the night dew has dried away-  -until noon, when the cherries must be covered as the sun is scalding- -and then drying in the afternoon sun until the evening humidity sets in, when the coffee cherries are raked together and protected by a canvas.

One of the smaller coffee drying patios at Nombre de Dios: drying green beans requires gentle sun and continuous turning. Humidity makes the beans mould and taste very bad.


Another treat was one bag of what is known as ‘honey process‘ : Javier explained he tried this for the first time this year:

Only ripe, red bourbon cherries was picked and de-pulped (the cascara was removed). Then, these green beans with the pulp (the fruit flesh) still on them, was put to dry on what is known as african drying beds:

The

On these beds, the sweet beans are turned by the workers continuously for an even drying. Javier wrote enthusiasticly about this. The green bean absorbes the sugar from the flesh! But it may absorb any unwanted flavours in the air too, so this is meticulous work.

So, all in all four different coffees then: washed ‘Caturra’ and washed,  ‘Natural processed’ and ‘honey processed’ bourbon too.

For us in Kaffee-Alchemie, this is where the ‘alchemie’ starts: the green beans now will be roasted: step by step until we find a roast profile which ‘opens’ the flavours and characteristics of these for us ‘gold’ coffees.

Mrs Maria Elena Botto holding the jute bag for the

Our passion is to find good coffees and bring them to Austria. Our friendship with Maria and Javier will see us meet again: next year, as the World Barista Championship is being arranged in Vienna, I’ve invited them to come and present their coffee there: Maria wants to come!  And if we are lucky, there could be a chance we might purchase coffee from the 2011-2012 harvests too  🙂

As the coffee arrived last week in Vienna, I went there to pick it up with my good friend Johanna Wechselberger, Coffee roaster and the enthusiast behind Vienna School of Coffee. Johanna just started her own roastery -“Die Rösterin”- earlier this year, and will roast for us! Together with Jens H Thomsen from SCAE (Speciality Coffee Association of Europe) we opened three of the precious bags and did some sample roasting! Suggested roast profiles kindly hinted by Morten from Nordic Approach. These delicate and intricate coffees deserve a careful, lighter roast:


The first batches have been roasted now in the last days of September; we have cupped (tasted) them and smiled  🙂   -only small adjustments now, and the coffees will be available in our Salzburg Store.

Mr. Javier Botto has put a lot of effort into achieving a high quality on last years

Mr. Javier Botto put a lot of effort into harvesting and processing; the reward is recognition in the World Coffee Market. ‘Nombre de Dios’ is renowned for delivering excellent bean quality, and their coffees are in this very moment being served and enjoyed in Japan, Korea, the US, Norway  -and now in Austria.

In this very moment,  Javier is also preparing for the 2011-2012 harvest:  he writes that the weather situation is changing also in the higher altitudes in Latin America: in February, as the 2010-2011 harvest was coming to an end, the first rain showers poured down  -200 ml!-  -something that normally should happen at least eight weeks later-  , and this immediately triggered a first coffee blossom on parts of the farm already in March.

The Coffee Tree uses 7-9 months from blossom to ripe cherries, and Javier now expects harvest to start already in the 2nd week of October, to start picking these early ripening cherries. The main bulk of Pickers will arrive later, in November and December.

Roast colour by the minute

Our precious coffee bags, nicely stocked at

I am proud and honoured to have Maria and Javiers coffee to offer: please come by for a up  -or some beans to bring home, to do some alchemy yourself!

John

3 Responses to ‘New Coffee arrived: Direct from ‘Nombre de Dios’ Farm in El Salvador to Salzburg!’

  1. Wolf says:

    Great report! Thank You

  2. Gavin says:

    I got try this bean, great to have a supply of the good stuff in Salzburg.

    Gavin

  3. David hobbs says:

    Amazing weekend in salzburg, and I enjoyed my wonderful coffee in kaffee Alchemie, must complement your hospitality & friendly service.

    David /Mr Hobbs Coffee,Dublin

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