Hand sorting only the ripest red cherries in El Salvador, cherries in foreground are rejected.
We are now five years into our sourcing program in El Salvador. In our five years, El Salvador has been hit with the worst case of coffee leaf rust in the world. Causing annual coffee production to decline by over 50%. On top of this, El Salvador a stable Central American country when we started working there, has spilled into one of the most violent and dangerous countries in the world. Leading statistics on high gang related violence and homicides. Sadly, the country as at a low point.
Ricardo Ariz one of our best farmers in El Salvador
We have also had our share of trials and turbulations working there. We started, working with one family in the Apaneca area where the producers understood quality in every aspect but had so little available quality coffee that we had to look elsewhere. Working through our relationships in El Salvador we met producer Ricardo Ariz three years ago. At the time Ricardo did not have a track record for quality, but his farm El Aguila had all the potential for producing beautiful coffee. Ricardo a business man, with little experience with coffee, except for growing up on the farm and hearing about the family business had at this point been asked by his father to take over running the coffee farm for the family. The first year we bought coffee from Ricardo the coffee was good, but could be better. We worked on a plan with Ricardo to make some key quality improvements that would easily bring the coffee up in quality each year. The story of our partnership with Ricardo Ariz is a full success story. Every year the coffee gets better and better. So much of buying great coffees is about finding the right producer partners who are ready and willing to do the hard work. This work is rewarded with long term partnership with increased buying capacity and much higher prices directly to the farmer.
Small scale coffee farmers like Melvin Flores might only produce a few bags of coffee each year. Our system in Chalatenango keeps these small Micro Lots separated through the supply chain, rewarding producers for exceptional quality coffee.
Four years ago we also had the opportunity to jump in on the development project of building the infrastructure and systems of buying coffee in the region of Chalatenago. I believe we were the first roaster to sign on to buying coffee in this region. Our plan with Exporter-Importer Caravela would be built on their model in Colombia of working with the often forgot small farmer to isolate their small lots, cup them, grade them, buy them, offer premiums, transparency and agro support back to the farmers we are buying from. This system is sustainable and promotes delivery to our station and improve value and pricing to the farmers. Win win for farmers and Olympia Coffee.
Getting established in this area with the parchment reception-buying warehouse has been slower than ideal. At the end of last year operations were fully complete.
Melvin Flores, stands with his coffee pulper. Quality coffee is based on the people who grow the coffee and process the coffee. Keeping our supply chain transparent and rewarding those who produce high quality is a sustainable solution in El Salvador.
This year marks the first of a five year development process to recieving super high quality from El Salvador. Our labor has finally come to bare fruit. These fruits are in my opinion, the best example of a collection of coffees from El Salvador from any roaster in the world.
This year we will feature the following awesome El Salvador coffees.
Ricardo Ariz Bourbon- Sweetheart
Ricardo Ariz SL-34
Ricardo Ariz Pacamara
Melvin Flores Pacas
Melvin Flores Pacamara
Samuel Luna Honey Pacamara