For six generations, the Aguilar family has produced coffee on the shade-rich land on the north-eastern slope of the San Salvador Volcano, with a direct view over the capital city of San Salvador. The estates cover nearly 160 hectares at altitudes ranging from 1,250 to 1,700 meters (4,100 to 5,577 feet), the top of the farm being unusually high for El Salvador and lending to great coffee growing potential.
Las Mercedes and sister estate Santa Maria are surrounded by 100 hectares of nature reserve designated as a part of the Meso-American Biological Corridor, including a remarkable ‘mini rainforest’ with a noticeable temperature drop as you reach the very highest coffee areas. Given the importance of the preservation of the forest, the Aguilar family, in conjunction with a local NGO, have two park rangers that look after the protected natural forest year-round.
The Las Mercedes honey method is a holistic process which accounts for everything from harvest through to dry milling. Before harvest, the cherries are a deep red-purple colour. The cherries are de-pulped then dried on raised beds for 22 days, including both sun and shade, a new method which Fernando is calling ‘Sol-Sambra’ drying.
Fernando’s vision of utilising the natural advantage of altitude and re-committing to varieties such as Pacamara, that lend to best cup profile over rust resistance and yield, and simply managing the plant stock through good farm work, agronomy investment and experience is a bold one. This has allowed the emergence of very high quality production in general.
This is our second year purchasing coffee from Fernando’s impeccably managed estates and a tradition that we intend to continue.