There is nothing like a trip to Origin to motivate and encourage us in our business. I just returned from El Salvador and Costa Rica, along with my brother Randy, Head Roaster and Coffee Buyer. We also brought Daniel Gunter- Barista Manager, Trainer, and Apprentice Roaster to El Salvador. First stop was El Tapacun Coffeehouse in the San Salvador airport. Our coffee was featured for the week, with Daniel as guest barista for a day, offering training to the local baristas.
We spent the next few days with Miguel Menendez Sr. and his son Guillermo. We toured their wholly owned, sophisticated milling station and five of their small, surrounding farms in the Apaneca-Ilimapatec Mountains (the region is considered the Golden Belt of Coffee). We also cupped 28 distinctive micro-lots of coffee, a tall order in itself, with the purpose of making our own selections for the current season. This year’s coffees are among the best we have ever tasted, leaving us very excited to introduce to our customers. As harvest season is happening right now through February, we will have these new coffees in our lineup in April or May.
We are privileged to have had a Direct Trade relationship with the Menendez family for several years now. They treat us as members of their family, hosting us in their home for meals. We spent alot of time deepening these important relationships, hearing amazing stories from Miguel Sr of his days in coffee through war, bandits, the kidnapping of his father, and more. After touring and seeing the immense pride and meticulous effort that Miguel and his team put into their farm practices and processing, we all left feeling very fortunate to be partnered with these guys.
The care and detail he puts into his farming and processing is unsurpassed. We really felt that as we followed Miguel through rows of his coffee trees, as he would stop to prune the end of a dying branch, or study an individual cherry to determine just the right time for harvesting. He showed how they leave some trees for shade, how they continuously prune and make room for younger, healthy trees. With an agronomist on staff, they undergo constant experimentation with new varietals and adjustments to farming and processing practices, in order to always improve cup quality. The beneficio, or ‘coffee mill’, is spotless, being cleaned completely between each specific varietal and lot that is processed. Quality coffee is obviously the true passion for Miguel Menendez,which is why they sell directly to some of the best roasters in the world.
We as roasters work hard on profiling these delicious coffees. Our intent is to roast in a style that allows the incredible sweetness of the coffee to shine, honoring the commitment that is present every step of the way!