Santa Lucia – El Salvador
Finca Santa Lucia has been in the Salinas Family for more than 60 years. General Julio Salinas, the farm’s original owner, passed the farm down to his son along with a passion for coffee farming. His granddaughter (and the farm’s current owner), Mary Salinas de Borgonovo, runs the farm today using many of the traditional farming practices that her grandfather instituted. Situated just 500 meters from the town of Ataco, the terrain of the farm is quite level, which facilitates harvesting and care for the coffee trees, despite its relatively high altitude of 1,350 meters above sea level.
The farm has no source of running water but receives a daily dose of humidity from the dense fog that descends upon the region almost daily throughout the year.
Coffee is harvested at Santa Lucia during the final weeks of December through most of January. Labor on the farm is only hired for the harvest and for some of the more intensive agricultural work, such as controlling undergrowth twice annually. The rest of the work is done by Mary and her husband, Alfredo Borgonovo, both of whom come from generations of coffee expertise.
The family takes renovation seriously, counting it as their best defense against the coffee leaf rust that has decimated much of El Salvador’s production in recent years. All ageing or disease-prone trees are currently being replaced with new seedlings. This (along with unfavorable climate conditions) has reduced the farm’s yields, but the hope is to continue using meticulous agricultural practices to ensure increased production in the future. Originally 100% Bourbon, 20% of the farm is now under Pacas trees as a measure to help promote more resistance amongst the trees.
All coffee from the farm is carefully harvested by hand and 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 family to process their coffee to their specifications so as to assure its quality and consistency. Currently, the farm produces wet process and natural coffees, though there may be potential for more experimentation.
After cherries are sorted by hand again at the mill, they are delivered to dry on African Beds or on the mill’s extensive clay patios for 21 days, where they are regularly raked (initially every 20 minutes) to ensure even drying. Lots that start in the beds will spend an additional three to four days on clay patios, for a total drying time of around 26 days. Finally, the beans are prepared and all defects removed and screened to uniform size.
Although the family doesn’t know how the farm originally came to be called Santa Lucia (the Catholic patron saint of the blind), coincidentally the Mary and Alfredo named their youngest daughter Lucia.