Episode 560: El Salvador Finca Argentina Washed Bourbon

I've been working with Alejandro Martinez since way, way back in 2008, and in that time our relationship has gone from strictly professional to Alé being one of my closest friends.

He became involved in coffee in 2008 because 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 being 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 interest, 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. One of those samples arrived at Has Bean Towers, just like a lot of other samples do; 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 it 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, the farmers 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 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.).

This 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.

This is such an easy-drinking coffee – think hot chocolate with hints of green apple and a fruity sweetness to it. That's wrapped up with a little hit of cocoa powder on the finish.

  • 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: Washed
  • Drying method: Patios

Cupping Notes: Hot chocolate, green apple, cocoa powder

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

  • Total (max. 100): 87

Roast Information: Medium dark – through first crack, and then steadily up to the very first pops of second as it finishes.

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