Episode 558: El Salvador Finca Argentina Piletas Natural Bourbon

I've been working with Alejandro since 2008 and in that time our relationship has gone from strictly professional to Ale being one of my closest friends. He became involved in coffee in 2008 as he had just relocated to El Salvador from New York where he'd been working as a city banker. With his first son on the way and the hustle and bustle of New York no place to bring up a family the draw of home and El Salvador was just far too strong to ignore.

While looking for work in El Salvador, Ale decided to help his father with some of his business interests and investments. His father had inherited several coffee farms from his grandfather and was unsure what to do with them, one of the investments pricked Ale’s intent and this was a farm called Finca Argentina. The reason it really got Ale's attention was that he saw the farm once yielded loads of coffee but was producing a fraction of its old productivity. His father gave him permission to see what could be done to make the farm successful again

Ale found out the farm had been classified for a Q auction back in 2005. Thinking there may be a specialty buyer out there he and his cousin (who lived in London) went about sending samples to coffee roasters anywhere they could. 1 of those samples arrived at Hasbean Towers just like a lot of other samples do, but unusually I liked the coffee and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since then Finca Argentina has gone from strength to strength but not without bumps in the road. In 2013 they suffered the worst harvest on record, with only 70 bags harvested due to a massive issue with leaf rust. But with investment and hard work they have also bought a neighbouring farm and the future is amazingly bright for Ale, his father, his family and Finca Argentina.

The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range, and is near the town of Turin in the Ahuachapán department. Sixteen people work on the farm during the non-picking season, maintaining and tending to the plants. This number of workers goes up to 50 people during the picking period. The altitude of the farm is 1,300 m.a.s.l.

The coffee is 100% Bourbon, as 70% of plant stock in El Salvador is. This heirloom varietal is one of the reasons why coffee from this country is right up amongst some of the best in the world. They have the perfect climate and conditions for this low yielding, high maintenance strain.

Before he'd met me Ale hadn't done any natural processing, maybe he misses the days before he had someone like me pestering him with silly ideas! But I like to think this coffee proves we did a good thing convincing him to give it a go.

In the cup this is a sweet and juicy natural - lots of raisins and candied fruit peel is backed up by a creamy sweetness that makes me think of a crème brûlée - right down to the little hints of caramel.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • District: Ahuachapán
  • Municipality: Ahuachapán
  • Nearest city: Turin
  • Farm: Finca Argentina
  • Owner: Alejandro Martinez
  • Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing method: Natural
  • Drying method: Raised African beds

Cupping Notes: Raisin, candied peel, crème brûlée, caramel

  • Clean Cup: (1-8): 6
  • Sweetness: (1-8): 6.5
  • Acidity: (1-8): 6
  • Mouthfeel: (1-8): 7
  • Flavour: (1-8): 7
  • Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
  • Balance: (1-8): 6.5
  • Overall: (1-8): 6
  • Correction:(+36): +36

  • Total (max 100): 87

Roast Information: Medium - Nice and quick through first crack, drop just at the start of second crack.

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