Finca El Limo Coffee
About Jose and Finca El Limo
El Limo also produces some amazing coffee, including this delicious natural. This is our first coffee from Jose. We are sure it will not be the last!
This very special natural lot hails from one of El Salvador’s most renowned coffee growing regions, the Apaneca- Ilamtepec Mountain Range. Finca El Limo is one of many small farms that line these hills. However, unlike some of these farms, which have fallen under the weight of severe coffee leaf rust outbreaks, El Limo is not only alive and kicking but better than it ever has been! Owner, Jose Enrique Guitierrez’s exceptional agricultural practices have seen to that.
Jose has been farming coffee his whole life. As a fourth generation coffee farmer, he started working in coffee from childhood and, today, owns several farms in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Range (all of which Mercanta periodically has on offer). When he purchased the lovely Finca El Limo in 2008, it wasn’t so lovely. The farm was ravaged by coffee leaf rust and mostly abandoned. So much so that when the original owner offered it to him Jose has serious reservations. Nonetheless, he persevered, knowing the potential of the land.
Through Jose’s hard work, dedication and extensive knowledge, El Limo has been lovingly restored. Today Jose employs approximately 40 people year-round and an additional 120 people during the harvest.
El Limo takes its name from the silty, fertile soil common to the region. This fertile soil is just one secret to the quality of the coffee grown here. Altitude is optimal, as well as rainfall. These natural conditions, when married with Jose’sexceptional agricultural practices, make for some very special coffees. Jose’s production methods are thorough and designed to balance optimal quality with increased productivity, always taking into account the ideal natural location.
Jose only uses organic controls to fight against insects and pests. For instance, to control the coffee berry borer insect that is increasingly present in the region, he uses a naturally occurring fungus called Beauveria Bassiana. This fungus is found in the soil and is used to help liberate nutrients from the ground. Even better, it acts as a parasite and can be used as a natural control against the coffee berry borer.
Jose tries to use as few chemicals as possible on the farm. Once a year, samples are taken to the lab to test the fertility of the soil, with the aim of meeting the unique needs of each tree. Herbicides are used sparingly – usually only once a year when absolutely necessary. For the remainder of the year, unwanted plants are removed by hand (or machete). Fertilisation is regularly undertaken using organic composts and inputs.
Although El Limo is now a success story, Jose faces new challenges. The price of coffee is volatile and crop failure due to climate change is common. These factors make it increasingly difficult to obtain the pre-harvest financing that is so important for bringing in quality coffee. The prices that Jose receives from our importer help him run a sustainable operation. Unforunately not many buyers offer such prices, rendering his position as a coffee farmer ever precarious.
Climate change has also increased the presence of the same coffee leaf rust that almost killed El Limo in the beginning. In 2014, the fungus devastated crops across El Salvador, reducing total production by 50%. While many farms have learned to cope, rust still poses problems in the country. El Salvador is known for its Bourbon trees, a variety that is highly susceptible to rust.
At El Limo, they have kept as many Bourbon trees as possible but they have also begun experimenting with new varieties that demonstrate rust-resistance. One of these is San Pacho, a Cenicafe selected cross of Caturra and San Bernardo. San Bernardo displays many of the cupping qualities as its ancestor, Typica, whilst displaying a good resilience to coffee leaf rust.
Renovation and selection are also central to these activities. Nurseries producing the new seedlings used to re-plant the farm’s coffee plantations are produced using seeds sourced entirely from the strongest trees on Jose’s own farms. Jose continues to renovate around 25% of his crop every year and has been planting new shade trees to help keep temperatures on the farm cool and ward off diseases associated with warming.
Harvesting & processing the cherries
During harvest season, only the ripest cherries are picked by hand. 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 Gutierrez family to process their coffee to their specifications so as to assure its quality and consistency. This Finca El Limo coffee has been processed using the natural method, for which El Carmen mill is increasingly renowned.
The cherries are sorted by hand again at the mill. They are then delivered to dry on African Beds or on the mills extensive clay patios for 17-20 days. Here they are regularly raked (initially every 20 minutes) to ensure even drying. Lots that start in the beds will sometimes spend an additional three to four days on clay patios. Finally, the beans are prepared, removing all defects, and then screened to confirm uniformity.
Staff welfare is of the utmost important to Jose. He has begun investing in housing and living conditions as well as medical attention for all those working on the farm.
We are very impressed by the quality of this Finca El Limo coffee. Hopefully Jose can overcome the problems that many producers are experiencing, namely climate change and price volatility. We will certainly be keen to purchase more of these next year.
- 19g in
- 40g out
- in 28 – 30 seconds
- 60g per litre
- Steep for 4 minutes
- Stir and scoop off the crust
- Wait a further minute for grounds to settle
- Either pour slowly without plunging using the lid as a filter or
- Gently push the plunger the bottom and pour slowly.
- ENJOY YOUR COFFEE