HELVETIA farm is located in the community of El Naranjito, municipality of Ataco about 10 km of the state capital of Ahuachapan with a height of 1380 meters over sea level. Helvetia Estate farm is located in the Ilamatepeq Mountain Range, 3 miles away from the astonishing, touristic town called Concepcion de Ataco, Ahuachapan in the occidental region of El Salvador , Its topography is broken which creates a humid, tropical and exceptional microclimate. It has 6 natural water fountains located across the farm, which are protected by natural vegetation of the region. The farm is worked all year round based on a protocol of works which defines all the works that will be made on the farm, depending on strategic planning of the plantation. For example we define the work by its order, the shadow pruning method to use ,the coffee pruning, the wind barriers pruning period, the renovation method defined for a 5 year period, the fertilization formulas depending on soil analysis, the cleaning strategy and all of the works involved on the farm.
Our coffee is pulped the same day that is harvest an sundried in clay patios, they are hand moved every 30 minutes getting 16 moves in a day, after the fourth day is put together for the night rest, then moving it 16 times a day until it gets to the normal humidity to put it in the warehouse, more than checking its humidity by the moisture measurement equipment, even though we use an eyeful check for consistent appearance. The agricultural system for the Coffee Plantation is conformed of soil, shaded management and varietal differentiation.One of the secrets of our management is to work with the balance between the soil and the requirements of the coffee areas.
In the vegetative area we work with 3 important issues; The Recepa, which is to regenerate the whole coffee tree, The New Coffee Plant, which is to re-plant the old unproductive tree, and The Agobio, which is to bend the tree to get new vegetative units in one tree, we call it to plant in the air. This management gives the balance of productions through time.
Tell us the story of your Farm:
Established on the beginnings of the 1950s, with an association of coffee and cypress.
Carmen Elena Calderon de Escalon, bought Helvetia at the beginning of the 2000 in the middle of the coffee prices crisis, thinking that crisis are moments of opportunities , she projected at that time to make Helvetia the rebirth of her childhood, as a woman with coffee in her blood, she rebirthed the way she was raised in the farm in the oriental part of El Salvador , San Carlos, and accomplished a promise she made to his father the day that San Carlos was took away of their hands because of the Agrarian Reform in 1981 I will have an strictly high ground farm as San Carlos and I will be a coffee grower one more time . As the result, Helvetia more than being a Strictly High Grown coffee plantation has had important quality satisfactions, in 2005 was a Cup of Excellence winner Presidential Award, in 2007 in the International Jury of the same event, The Best Coffee at the Ataco Coffee Fair in 2011with its Pacamara Variety Espresso and Cappuccino Presentation and Cup of Excellence winner in 2012
What is your secret for winning the competition?
1) The secret for winning the Competition is that as part of an integrated Coffee Company, we have the tracking of all the process. From the area of the property, milled immediately, sundried and storage apart.
These Coffee presented for the competition was harvested on December 15th and 16th, by a group of 30 persons from tablon La Pila, was milled the same day and was out of the patios on the 23rd and 24th of December, on the sixth day in patio it was put together to homogenize its humidity, this was made during five days before it went out of the clay patios.
2) Balance between the soil, shade and our plantations which results in Good Quality Coffee.
3) The Passion for Coffee that we have.
How do you feel to be a winner?
I feel fortunate to share the good quality of Coffee that El Salvador has, and at the same time, to give to our company (CAFESCAL ALSO WINNER WITH FARM LA ESPERANZA) a good quality renamed coffee to be commercialized at his Exportation Line and Coffee Shops.
What do you think of the Cup of Excellence?
1) Is a good marketing tool, not just for our coffees but also to our Country El Salvador .2) It motivates People or Coffee Companies to concentrate in Quality Coffee.3) It identifies Coffee Areas with characteristics for excellent cups.
4) It is a tool to make long term relationships between producers and retailers, using the producers history and stories as marketing toolsFamily generations:
After deciding that shes going to have a cup of coffee from the Tablon La Pila where the lot that won the Cup of Excellence 2005 was harvested, she roasts it, let it cool, grinds it, and prepares it in a french press and starts to remember. Carmen Elena de Escalon, sitting on her rocking chair, during a rainy afternoon, feels the fog coming in to her log cabin in Finca Helvetia, and tells us why the passion for coffee.
Remembering when she was six years old, as she once packed her bags to spend a summer vacation of three months with her grandmother Gertrudis Nuila de Calderon at Finca San Carlos, located in the eastern part of El Salvador , property of her fathers family. She would stay with her granma while her parents and five siblings arrived one month later.
She remembers the great days spent at the finca which began as she and her grand mother walked out on the farm and saw some workers planting different areas and working the land, while they enjoyed picking the figs and oranges that they would have after lunch. Time went by, and every year, when the school year ended, the packaging of her bags for her vacation at the Farm meant the beginning of a joyful time. Every year was different…, she remarks, as we arrived, there was always something new, new coffee areas planted, farm houses for the workers, plantations of oaks trees and pines, the building of a church. One of those years, her father Armando and her Uncle Carlos along with her brothers Tomas and Armando had built a Coffee Mill, which she loved because she thought she would be able to try the harvested coffee faster.
The years past, and the story repeated until he was twenty five, where she married Mauricio Escalon prominent son of coffee growers, processors and exporters from the western part of the country . The visits to the finca continued, although not for such a long time, only for short weekend stays until one day a violent civil war hit the country which made it difficult to travel to the farm. During the war the finca was expropiated by the government under what was known as the Agrarian Reform. It was so difficult, she explains, to stay away from that property thay saw us grow and that we saw it grow. From there the vision that as a wife and a mother of three children would reintroduce herself in coffee growth it was then that she promised her father, as they were informed that the finca had been expropiated thet she would one day have her own farm.
As the years went by, and as she helped her husband Mauricio continue with his coffee plantations in the middle of a difficult war, but convinced of the principles of freedom, fights along with her family to conquer peace in El Salvador and never forgot the promise she once made to her father. In the 1990s Carmen and Mauricio bought a farm in the Santa Ana Volcano, but she explains the promise I made to my father was that I would have a farm of my own thats why, as a believer in coffee, specifically in the specialty market segment and convinced that the crisis generate opportunities she adventures and buys Helvetia in 2003, and continues the promise is accomplished and in the worst crisis of coffee history, because as I told, my belief in coffee, in the enviromental bondages of the plantations and specially in the generation of labor that it creates to elevate the quality of life for the people that lives in and around the farm.Now, she offers us another cup of coffee from Helvetia, but this time she decides to prepare a semiwashed coffee, and starts, roasting it, let it cool, she grinds it and make it one more time in a french press, and continues, this coffee was depulped and prepared in Beneficio San Jose, a proccesing plant we made to prepare the coffees from our farms, It has been a success , its a small industrial plant that works as a clock. It was Mauricios idea, my son, he is a convinced of making things differently, because he says that being in the process its a way to distinct from the others and differentiate our specialty coffee.I believe we got exactly into my family and Mauricio my husbands familys beliefs, coffee companies vertically integrated from the plantations, production, processing, exportation and roasting; at this time for different reasons, a differentiation strategy. Let me explain you why to make thing different specially in a commodity market as coffee; coffee beans have the same shape, it may change just the size, but to get to those beans you have to take different roads and processes, we are taking probably the longest but the different ones. First, we are all as a family, proud of our plantations , involucrated from, where are the trees that we are going to harvest to have the next seeds we are going to plant, the tree and the bean development, the harvest, transportation, processing depending on the quality, production lines depending on preparations, in which machines those lots will be process, what would be the heights of the coffee lots in the patios, if the coffee is moved seventeen times a day, in the storage identifications, in its aging and specially in who is going to be our client, to give him the tracking of the coffee so important for positioning our Salvadoran Specialty Coffee.She continues, this is possible because of our experience, we have learned it trough generations from my familly coffee growers from the beginings of the 1900s and from my husbands family which were the first Coffee Growers, Transformers and Exporters Companies back in 1884.
|Farmer/Rep.||Carmen Elena Calderon Sol De Escalon|
|Size (30kg boxes)||15|
|City||Concepción de Ataco|
|Program||El Salvador 2005|
|Processing system||Wet Process|
|Coffee Growing Area||-1|
|High bidders||Wataru for Beans Coffee Sales|