The Alfaro Estate is located at 1,300m above sea level in El Salvador’s Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, one of Central America’s prime specialty coffee producing areas. The estate has been farmed by the Alfaro family for over a century.
This particular lot lies in the heart of El Salvador’s main ‘protected highway’ of forest, a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor System that stretches all the way from Mexico down to Panama. In El Salvador, where more than 80% of the country’s coffee is produced under shade, this eco-system is based mainly in the coffee forest. For this reason, coffee farms such as Alfaro Estates play a vital role as a sanctuary for hundreds of the migratory and native bird species found in this part of the world.
The estate is an extremely well-run specialty estate and is managed with scrupulous attention detail, with great emphasis placed on maintaining the identity of each lot from the moment its coffee cherries are harvested until the point when the green beans are ready for export. The estate’s coffee is produced under approximately 60% shade cover, which is required for the coffee to ripen evenly. Prior to the rainy season, shade trees are then pruned to about 40% shade to allow the access of light necessary for new foliage growth.
During the harvest, the Bourbon cherries are hand-picked only when perfectly ripe and floated to remove any debris or underweight cherries. After this, they are delivered to dry on African Beds for 21 days, where they are regularly raked (initially every 20 minutes) to ensure even drying. They 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.