July 1, 2013 by beanerbar
Counter Culture Direct Trade Certified
Aida Batlle’s 100% Bourbon variety from the Northeast slope of the Santa Ana Volcano is a true classic. Cultivated with the utmost care and craftsmanship from the most dedicated producer we know, Finca Mauritania shows it pedigree – being immaculately clean with a perfect balance of sweetness and brightness, with notes of sweet pastry with a hint of fruit, over a light and creamy body.
Our friendship and partnership with farmer Aida Battle dates back to 2003, the year of her decisive win of the first Cup of Excellence competition in El Salvador. She sought us out, looking for information about coffee processing, and we discovered a shared love of exploring coffee’s flavor potential through processing experimentation. (For this harvest in 2013 alone, we created about 30 different experimental lots!)
Through the last decade, we have worked together on modifying everything from fermentation times to drying the coffee in a in completely different way. This year’s coffee represents the culmination of years of experiments and then the implementation of what we found to be the the best practices.
Sadly, while this might be one of the best years for coffee quality, Finca Mauritania has suffered from the coffee leaf rust fungus that has plague Central America this year. While this year’s crop was affected by the rust, looking to 2013/2014 Mauritanias crop will be a mere fraction of the normal yields. Even with a setback like the one we are anticipating, we know Aida and Finca Mauritania are just getting started for the potential she can produce, and there are great things to come from this truly remarkable farm and producer.
Aida’s family has created some interesting names for coffee farms. We have never heard of another Finca Kilimanjaro, Finca Mauritania, or Finca Tanzania. Many of names come from Aida’s father, who loved mountains and Africa. Mauritania is a West African country bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Sahara Desert, and Algeria.
Finca Mauritania is situated on the northeast slope of the Ilamatepec (Santa Ana Volcano) just outside of Santa Ana. Driving in the quaint downtown area of Santa Ana, you wouldn’t expect that it is the second largest town in El Salvador after San Salvador. Driving around, though, as you pass coffee farm after coffee farm just outside the downtown area and numerous coffee processing facilities, it is not hard to imagine why Santa Ana is essentially considered the hub of coffee for the entire country. This stems from a rich coffee tradition that started in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, El Salvador and Santa Ana, in particular, were really put on the map by one particular modern coffee mill that became famous the world over for its innovative technology and the quality of coffee.
Since the middle of the 1900s, though, and especially in the 1980s because of terrible civil war, El Salvador’s popularity in the coffee world waned. The last two decades of stability have brought El Salvador and Santa Ana back to fame, and many of the best coffees in Central America are being produced around this town.
This coffee is the product of a dedicated, passionate artisan of coffee farming: Aida Batlle. Coffee runs in Aida’s blood – she is a fifth generation coffee producer. It was actually her great-great-grandfather who is credited with bringing the Bourbon variety (which El Salvador is famous for) to El Salvador. Aida has been managing the family’s farms since 2003, when, in her first year as a full-time coffee farmer, her coffee won top prize at the inaugural El Salvador Cup of Excellence Competition.
We have never met a coffee farmer as passionate and dedicated to quality as Aida, and we have been amazed and gratified as, year after year, Aida pours her heart and soul into her harvest. Aida obsesses over the smallest details of coffee cultivation and harvesting: from pruning techniques to finding just the perfect point to pick her coffees, to the exploration of difficult, taste-enhancing washing and drying techniques. We have seen Aida dive into a full tank of coffee cherries to retrieve a single unripe bean, so passionate is she about absolute coffee perfection. Aida is recognized throughout the coffee world as a pioneer in great coffee flavor development, and so her coffee is sought after by roasters all over the world. We’re so lucky that, based on our long relationship with Aida, we have special access to this wonderful coffee.
Elevation: 1,400 – 1,600 meters
Harvest Time: December 2012 – February 2013
Coffee is harvested very ripe, depulped, and fermented for 18 hours overnight, then washed and post-ferment soaked for 6 hours.
Drying: Raised beds for 7-10 days