Coffee worker picking coffee cherries
El Pepeton, El Cipres estate, El Salvador
El Cipres estate is located on the North slopes off the Picacho Volcano in the Balsamo-Quezaltepec coffee region in the municipality of Nejapa, department of San Salvador. The estate has been in the same family since 1880 after being bought by Dr Emilio Alvarez Lalinde when the family migrated to El Salvador from Colombia, bringing an ancestry and knowledge in coffee production with them. The estate is now run by the Alvares Gallardo family who took over in 1992 bringing a new passion and dedication to the farm, working hard to achieve RFA (Rainforest Alliance Certification) certification as well as improving all aspects of the estate.
The estate is made up of 90 hectares of coffee producing land and 5 hectares of natural forest allowing the wildlife to flourish. Starting at 1070 masl, the farm is a long thin strip which climbs up to 1800 masl producing 3000 bags of coffee annually. El Pepetonit is the parcel of land of 7 hectares sitting between 1350-1500 masl situated just above the central region of the estate. Improvements made on the estate include the reintroducion of the old practice of agobia cutting and growing which has significantly helped to improve yield - this is where the trees are bent over and tied to the ground to keep producing whilst new shoots grow vertically.
Family & Community:
There is a strong family and social aspect to the El Cipres estate - as well as being RFA certified, the family work hard to ensure all workers are treated with respect and dignity. There is a permanent staff who live on the farm and whose food is subsidised all year round. In the houses, they have provided new efficient reduced smoke cooking stoves as well as introducing volcanic stones as a way of filtering waste water to reduce pollutants entering the soil. During the picking season, the workers receive meals and coffee each day as well as a nutritional drink every other day to promote good health amongst the work force.
The farm is community focused and supports the local school which neighbours the farm. It subsides the teaching assistant and they have helped with the supply of a computer and provide sporting clothes for the games classes.
The coffee once picked is separated before it is delivered to the El Borbollon mill, located in Santa Ana. There it is pulped on arrival, the cherries are emptied into tanks and water is used to move the cherries up a pump and into a depulper to remove the skin of the cherry from the beans. The beans are then moved in channels to fermentation tanks where they will rest for 13 to 15 hours meaning naturally present bacteria and microbes break down the sugars and alcohols in the mucilage of the bean. They are then washed again before being transported to the drying patio where they are dried for a period of 8-10 days.
Coffee cherries during production
(Information and images provided by Falcon Speciality)