El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa Washed
The story of us buying this coffee starts several years ago with Jorge Raul Rivera traveling to the Roaster’s Guild Retreat to meet roasters. There, he and Mark, our head roaster, became friends. We connected with him again at that year’s SCAA Expo. He invited us to visit him at Santa Rosa in the Chalatenango Region, and although we wanted to go, we can’t just pick up and visit every producer. After sampling and buying a small amount of his coffee we were blown away with the quality. His coffees were sweet, clean, and interesting.
The following year we got the chance to visit Raul and Finca Santa Rosa. It’s hard to accurately describe our experience and the kind of hospitality Raul showed us. He took us to his favorite spots-from the beach to the best papusaria stand and then to one of his farms that had been destroyed by fire. Parts of the farm had gone to seed; coffee shrubs grew like they were made to-long, thin limbs with sparse, ripe cherry. There he had hidden Gesha seedlings deep in a gulley, too far from the road for anyone to steal them. We stayed at the processing station for several days. Gerardo, part of the team there, was gracious and welcoming. On one of the days, we were there something went wrong with a portion of the sample roasting. Raul and the roaster stayed up all night redoing the samples. When they finished at 3 am, Raul drove their roaster from Chalatenango into San Salvador to the doctor.
Coffees from Finca Santa Rosa are beautiful and unique. Each lot is cared for and documented to the most minute detail. Crisp, sweet, big Pacamara body, with raspberry and sugar cane notes.
HISTORY OF SANTA ROSA & EL SALVADOR CIVIL WAR:
Finca Santa Rosa was purchased in 1979 by Jorge Rivera’s father. He invested in the land for forestry by planting walnut, white oak, and other hardwoods. The following year a coordinated guerrilla based revolutionary war started, and El Salvador experienced a 12-year civil war. The Chalatenago area was largely affected, and neither Jorge or his father were able to visit the farm then. Fast forward to the late 90’s and Jorge’s father saw an opportunity to plant coffee amongst the trees. At the time intercropping and shade growing were unheard of as it slowed coffee growth and affected the yield. The benefits they can add to the cup profile and sustainability were unknown at the time.
Jorge went to agriculture school in Honduras and then to LSU. He came back and took over the coffee farm refining the fermentation techniques, fertilizers, and varietals. His Pacamaras took 5th place in the 2011 Cup of Excellence. Seeing the progress created, they became even more scientific and in 2014 won 1st place in the Cup of Excellence (COE). Last year the COE was canceled, but this year it’s back on, and we expect him to once again make a big showing. It’s an amazing story amongst many others, of how hard work, intelligence, and forethought took a war-torn farm to the most valuable farm in the country.
El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa
This is a Relationship Coffee from our friend Jorge Rivera in El Salvador. We have been working with Jorge for three years now. Finca Santa Rosa, his farm, is our premier offering from El Salvador. They grow mostly the Pacamara varietal, and we buy many micro- and macro-lots from Jorge. We paid $5/lb FOB, which we cupped at an 89.5. We hired Atlas Coffee importers to bring in the container, and we purchased 88 70kg bags of mixed micro- and macro-lots from Santa Rosa.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.51/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum purchase price was $1.71/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided to only list what is shown because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
- We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
- We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
- We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
- We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
- We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
- We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
- We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
- We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.