Finca El Zarzal is located on the San Vicente Volcano in central El Salvador . This estate coffee farm contains 40 hectares of coffee and a 10 hectares forest reserve. The farms altitude ranges from 1290 -1520 meters and towers over the beautifully scenic Valley of Jiboa. The zones mineral-rich volcanic soils and optimum growing conditions make it one of the countrys most fertile agricultural regions. Coffee, sugar cane, corn, and many fruits and vegetables are grown here. An abundance of birds and wildlife also inhabit the shade-grown farms of the Volcano. Nearly 100 species of birds such as Parrots, Owls, Hawks Jays, Orioles and wildlife such as Gophers and small Wildcats make their home in this ecological paradise. Finca El Zarzal is located in the Chichontepec Growing Region, one of the smallest of El Salvador s six coffee producing zones. The region produces 6% of the National crop, and this marks only the second time a Cup of Excellence classifying farm came from this area. The winning lot, features a mix of Red Bourbón and the rare, El Salvador Typica variety, which is also known locally as Arabigo.
A family owned and operated business, El Zarzal recently celebrated its 100th year of growing premium coffee. Originally purchased in 1911, the farm has passed through the stewardship of four generations of the Argueta/Iglesias family. Since 1997, El Zarzal has been managed by Benjamin Argueta, who overseas all farm and mill activities. Over the last few years he has modernized the business to accommodate the growing niche for direct-trade micro-lots of Specialty Coffee.
Finca El Zarzal is cultivated with the heirloom varieties of Bourbón (Red) and Typicas. While many coffee growers have substituted older, traditional varieties for new, higher yielding plants, they continue to maintain the lower yielding varieties for their superior cup profile. The farm also contains a small section of Pacamara and in 2012, some Kenya (SL-28) and Gesha trees were planted to see how these varieties adapt to our growing conditions.
The farm manager, Hernan Linares, is also an Agronomist and brings nearly 40 years of experience working in the coffee industry. Having administered other Cup of Excellence winning farms, Mr. Linares has implemented a lot of quality improvements over the last few years. Shade and soil management, tree prunning and plant nutrition are routinely experimented with and evaluated in quest of producing a better tasting cup.
In 2005, the Argueta family set up their own ecological mill, Beneficio Monte Benny, in the town of Verapaz, San Vicente. This micro-mill processes only their own coffee and allows them to have complete control over the quality of the final product before export.
In the wet mill, a Jota Gallo model was chosen for its vast ecological benefits. In addition to outstanding quality coffee, the diminished use of water is dramatic lower than a traditional mill. To process a kilo of dry parchment coffee, less than one liter of water per kilogram is used, as opposed to 40 liters per kilogram to process the coffee in a traditional mill with fermentation tanks. Most of El Zarzal coffee is sun dried on patio but also Raised African drying beds are used to process various specialty micro-lots. The dry mill at Beneficio Monte Benny classifies coffee by size, density and gravity. For final cleaning of Specialty lots, the coffee is passed thru electronic sorters and than manually with workers selecting out any remaining defective grains by hand.
Last year the Argueta family began to export their green coffee under its own San Vicente Coffee Company brand. It has been a fascinating experience for them to see top specialty coffee roasters, champion baristas and premium coffee bars serving their coffee all over the world.
|Farm Name||El Zarzal|
|Farmer/Rep.||Benjamin Anthony Argueta|
|Size (30kg boxes)||55|
|Program||El Salvador 2012|
|Aroma/Flavor||caramel, fruit, amaretto, orange, grape, sweet fruit|
|Acidity||grape-like, citric, sparkling|
|Other||buttery, smooth body, long juicy aftertaste, refined|
|Coffee Growing Area||-1|
|Auction Lot Size (lbs.)||3637.6|
|High bidders||Nippon Coffee Trading Co., Ltd.|