I feel very fortunate to have been able to be part of this year’s El Salvador Cup of Excellence International Jury and there is only one word to describe this year’s crop in El Salvador – exceptional!
A total of 124 growers submitted their fruit to the Salvadoran Coffee Council for the first round of national cupping and pre-selection (a small amount compared to previous years but given 2010’s crop shortage a very acceptable number), from these 124 coffees 73 made it to the second round of national cupping.
The National Jury is selected through a rigorous process organised by Cup of Excellence and the Salvadoran Coffee Council – and what a great job these guys did! After a lot of hard work, the national team decided that 47 coffees would go through from the second round and the table was set for a fascinating week full of amazing coffees and the company of the great Cup of Excellence family.
It is important to mention that 14 of the lots submitted in the first round of nationals were 100% Pacamaras and these beautiful coffees made it all the way to the final 30, to be auctioned on 17th June 2010.
STAR GROWERS LEAD THE WAY
Mercanta would like to congratulate Doña Julia Molina and Francisco ‘Pancho’ Menendez, owners of Finca Suiza, for winning 1st place. This farm led the way through the International Jury sessions, showing its terroir from the Potro Grande Canton in the Santa Ana region. This remarkable Bourbon varietal displayed a lush/coating mouthfeel with deep notes of cassis and ripe plums and a lingering fruit driven aftertaste.
Finca Suiza came in 2nd place in the 2007 Cup of Excellence, and its win this year comes as no surprise. Impeccable agricultural practices and really understanding what his farm is capable of producing has enabled Pancho to become one of El Salvador’s leading producers.
Another big congratulation goes to our great friend Ernesto Menendez, owner of Finca Los Andes, for winning 5th place. This is the third time Ernesto has picked up a top finish at Cup of Excellence, having achieved 8th place in 2007 with Finca Alaska and 1st place in 2008 with Finca La Ilusión.
Ernesto and Francisco are brothers and between them they have achieved a remarkable five top-ten positions in the last four years, winning the competition twice.
What are Ernesto and Francisco doing to produce such great coffees?
The answer is simple: they are great cuppers. This means they can taste what they produce and so decide how to run their agricultural projects based on cup quality rather than yields (unlike the majority of coffee producers worldwide).
Ernesto has been a national cupper at Cup of Excellence for several years and has gained a huge amount of experience by working at different mills, as well as training at the Coffee Council.
Congratulations also to Maria Pacas and family for finishing in 6th place with Finca San Joaquín. We buy from Maria’s Finca El Retiro Bourbon, a farm that has also been a Cup of Excellence winner – finishing in 15th place in 2006 – and will be available from our UK and USA warehouses from June onwards.
We would also like to say well done to our great friends Carmen and Rafael Silva Hoff for finishing in 10th place with Finca Llano Grande. Carmen and Rafael also run two farms really that we have known well for several years now – Finca La Fany (4th place in 2004) and Finca Siberia (6th place in 2004, 23rd place in 2007 and 27th place in 2008).
It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by all these talented producers, who really understand the expression of terroir and produce award winning coffees year after year. These producers are the real heroes of the specialty coffee industry, whose hard work day after day ensures that we can enjoy an exceptional cup of coffee.
It is a great privilege to be able to offer these fantastic coffees to our customers and we wish Francisco, Ernesto, Maria, Carmen and Rafa great success in the forthcoming auction on 17th June.
I would like to thank:
Carmen and Rafael Silva Hoff for their hospitality and generosity, after spending a lovely day with me at Finca La Fany in the Apaneca region.
Ernesto and Francisco Menendez for sharing their agricultural knowledge and taking the time to show me all their farms – Finca La Ilusión, Finca Alaska, Finca Los Andes, Finca Suiza and Finca San Carlos and mill . These guys produce coffee to perfection – controlling varieties and processes, harvesting at the perfect time, treating the soil, and ensuring excellent general agricultural practices.
Fernando and Juan Manuel Alfaro for organising a fantastic day at Finca El Carmen, showing us the mill and hosting a day full of activities for the Cup of Excellence family.
Eduardo Alvarez from El Borbollón mill in Santa Ana for showing me around the recently upgraded mill and an afternoon of great conversation about the crop in 2010.
Maria Pacas and family – even though I ran out of time to see their farms and mill we managed to share the Cup of Excellence award ceremony together. We hope to visit Maria and the farms very soon.