September 2014 - Gloria Rodrugez: Finca San José

Finca San José is the pride and joy of the Rodríguez family, and is now in the hands of a 4th and 5th generation of coffee producers. The story begins in 1815 when José María Rodriguez and Josefina Rodriguez (Great grandparents) planted the first coffee trees with their own hands.

Through the generations the farm has passed through the hands of many committed farmers like José's son Israel Rodriguez, who was then followed by Jose Maria Rodriguez, who took care of the farm until it came to the most recent owner, Gloria Mercedes Rodriguez Fontán.

Ever the strong woman, Gloria has overcome gender barriers in an industry that has historically been the province of men and personally supervises every step at the farm level. Gloria not only takes care of San José, but together with her siblings' support, she manages five other small farms which collectively add up to 38 hectares.

Finca San José is in its third year in the UK specialty coffee market, but it has been awarded many times by the Cup of Excellence from 2007 to 2009, and more recently was the El Salvador Best of Origin and 4th overall highest score at the 2011 Coffee of The Year event held by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This proves that commitment, hope, and passion will never be deceived.

The mountain slopes of Finca San José are fully shaded by trees that help to maintain and preserve the crop and the surrounding environment. In addition to the trees' diversity, the farm is home to a variety of wild animals and birds, which can be seen in their natural habitat. San José is nested in the north-western slope of an extinct volcanic crater that holds inside it a small lagoon named Nymph Lagoon, due to the abundance of water lilies.

This year San José has 17 full-time workers performing several activities such as shade tree and coffee pruning, vegetative tissue renewing, and weed control. All of this work is done skillfully by hand. Approximately 60 more seasonal workers assist in the harvest process, earning their livelihood from picking and selecting coffee cherries only at the peak of ripeness. The people who harvest coffee have extensive experience and share a commitment of growing a superior quality coffee.

Gloria believes in maintaining highly motivated staff; the farm's permanent workers are receiving almost 10% above the legal wage, while the seasonal workers received almost 50% more during harvest due to the importance of this specific task for the end quality.

One of Gloria’s major blessings is to have Antonio Avelino as her farm manager or “mandador”, as his level of commitment, knowledge, and shared philosophy of quality makes him an integral part of this effort.

In 2011, at the Specialty Coffee Association of America trade show and conference, a sample of Finca San José Elefante won El Salvador’s Best of Origin at the Roaster’s Guild - Coffee of the Year event, and also placed 4th overall in the same event, which had more than 120 submissions.

Location: Cantón El Saitillal, Apaneca, Ahuachapán
Coffee varieties: Bourbon (Red, Orange, Yellow), Typica, Elefante.
Type of Shade: Pepeto, inga sp, and other native trees
Average Annual Rainfall: 2,100 mm
Altitude: 1,500 masl
Average Temperature: 17º C
Type of Soil: Clay loam
Annual Production: (69kg) 75 bags
Fauna: Armadillo, gray fox, small wildcats, agouti paca, hawks, pocket gopher, magpie, turquoise-browed Motmot, among others.

If you'd like to taste the fantastic coffees Gloria has grown then please click on the following links...

Washed Red Bourbon
Washed Elefante
Washed Amarangia Bourbon

As Gloria is the Grower of the Month for the month of September I'm even offering you a shiny 15% discount if you buy all 3!

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