Farm: Finca El Aguila
Varietal: 100% Red Bourbon
Altitude: 1,500 to 1,720 metres above sea leve
Owner: Mauricio Ariz Silva
Town / City: Chalchuapa
Region: Santa Ana
Overall: Cherry, fructose, plum
Finca El Aguila Natural - El Salvador
Finca El Aguila is owned by Mauricio Ariz and his sons – 4th and 5th generation coffee farmers. The finca occupies 63 hectares in Cantón Ojo de Agua, municipality of Chalchuapa near the Santa Ana Volcano. 43 of these hectares are given over to coffee: the remaining 20 hectares are dedicated to nature conservation or have been planted with cypress trees.
The coffee plantation is primarily Bourbon, with 1 hectare being devoted to Kenya variety trees with an additional 7 hectares planted with Pacamara, a locally developed cultivar. The farm ranges over lush, fertile hills at altitudes of 1,500 to 1,720 metres above sea level. This high altitude and ideal climate (with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 24°C and plentiful rainfall) bestows upon the coffee ideal climate for high quality coffee production.
The farm is meticulously managed – primarily by Mauricio’s son Ricardo, who oversees much of the farm management. Shade trees, including Ingas and Copalchi, have been planted throughout, and fertilization is performed after soil analysis and weed control has first been taken care of. Weed control is performed manually to avoid the use of herbicides. Fungicides are only applied when strictly necessary – usually in cases of extreme weather conditions, though with recent incidences of coffee leaf rust applications have become more frequent. Other practices on the farm include erosion control with vegetative barriers and the use of pruned branches to create more organic matter for the farm. Renovation has been taking place at around 8,500 trees annually, with increases planned in the coming years. Introducing new varieties has also become a priority, especially locally developed varieties.
The Ariz family are committed to keeping the primary forest within the property untouched. The family also supports the Ojo de Agua community with workers and materials to maintain two access roads, as well as providing a water supply to the community from their water reservoirs. It is hoped that the coming years they will be able to facilitate access to electricity for the community, as well.
2018 marks the first year that Ricardo has used the natural method in processing coffee from Aguila. The coffee on the family’s farms is selectively hand harvested, with only the best and ripest cherries being selected at each ‘pass’. All coffee is meticulously sorted before being delivered for processing to the nearby Beneficio El Carmen. Fernando Alfaro, the owner of the mill and El Carmen Estate, works with the family to process their coffee to their specifications so as to assure its quality and consistency. The majority of coffee from Aguila is fully washed, soaked and pre-dried. However, increasingly, special lots, such as this one, will be processed using the natural processing method, for which El Carmen mill is increasingly renowned.
After cherries are sorted by hand again at the mill, they are delivered to dry on African Beds or on the mills extensive clay patios for 21 days, where they are regularly raked (initially every 20 minutes) to ensure even drying. Lots that start in the beds will spend an additional three to four days on clay patios, for a total drying time of around 26 days. Finally, the beans are prepared and all defects removed and screened to uniform size.