Los Inmortales El Salvador Limited Release
- June 2018
- Written by : Andy Atkinson
Retail Regional Manager of New Markets & East Coast / Green Coffee Buyer
“Never stop learning. You can always improve.”
These words are proudly displayed in the Intelligentsia Values posted at our roasting facility in Chicago, and it is amazing think that these same words could very well be hanging at Finca Malacara. At least, it would seem so given the continuous improvements we see year over year from Guillermo “Epe” Alvarez on Finca Malacara. There is something special about a partnership in which everyone involved just seems to get each other, and that feeling is inescapable in the long-term partnership between Malacara, El Borbollón and Intelligentsia.
At Malacara, the commitment to constant improvement isn’t just empty words on a sheet of paper, or something mentioned in passing. We experience it every year in the flavors on the cupping table. This year the improvement in the Malacara SL-28 was so clear that Epe took home the first-ever quality improvement award at our second annual Extraordinary Coffee Competition, a quality contest in which the best coffees from our producing partners are cupped side-by-side by our entire Direct Trade network. We call this recognition the Jimmy Butler award. Those familiar with the Butler story will surely understand the reference to a player who, year after year, through sheer work ethic, steadily and methodically honed his skills to eventually become on of the best basketball players of his era. Just as Butler grew his skills season to season, Epe has pushed the quality of this coffee every year through meticulous attention to soil, fertilization, and collaboration with the El Borbollón mill, owned and operated by Epe’s cousin Eduardo “Quincho” Alvarez. The 2018 crop has made the jump to the upper tiers of quality in our line-up after years of work with the plants and processing.
Epe’s commitment to the mantra of continuous improvement leads him to look everywhere for information, techniques, inspiration, and guidance to help push the boundaries of quality on his farm. Coming into the 2018 harvest, Epe looked to replicate both the successes he had seen from trials within his own farm as well as what he had seen and heard of other farms and mills around the world. An immediate area for increased quality was coordination with the mill on the time of day his coffees are processed.
El Borbollón is a quality-focused operation. Its team makes sure its depulpers, cherry reception and fermentation tanks, and other machinery is scrubbed every morning before the day’s harvests begin to arrive, leaving all surfaces sparkling clean for coffee milling. But over the course of even a single busy day, the equipment and the water slowly lose their cleanliness as they are used to process batch after batch of cherry. Epe took note of this, and last year conducted a trial that showed cherry harvested earlier in the day and brought to the mill immediately performed better on the cupping table than cherry that was delivered later in the day.
Through collaboration with El Borbollón, Epe arranged to have his highest-quality coffees harvested and delivered to the mill immediately so they were first in the queue for milling on sparkling clean machinery, and the first to land on the drying beds early the next morning. This not only ensured the cleanest processing and fermentation, but also altered the drying through varied heat and sun exposure versus a coffee processed at night. The cumulative effect of subtle changes like these over the years have helped push the Malacara micro-lots to new heights this year.
We are extremely excited to bring to you the 2018 crop of Finca Malacara’s SL-28, which represents the fifth consecutive year of this Intelligentsia exclusive.