December 2014 - Alejandro Martinez: Finca Argentina
The first time we came across Mr Martinez was via a very well presented coffee sample which just landed on my doorstep. It came from someone who had visited the farm and offered to try and help find a buyer for them in the UK. We get lots of these and normally give them a try on the cupping table, but find they are just not good enough for us to stock. This one was quite different: the quality was amazing. So initially we stocked it, although we knew very little about it.
Since that day, I've been to see Alejandro three times in El Salvador, last time stopping at his house with his family and enjoying a day at the beach. Alejandro even came to see us last year in Stafford. We have worked with him on projects (some successful, others we will brush over); we have also told him what we would like to see from the farm (some he took on board, others he didn't).
Most importantly, he has become a very very good friend, and someone whose coffee I love and company I enjoy. Alejandro took over running the farm from his father a few years ago, having returned to El Salvador after travelling around the world as an investment banker. A very intelligent guy and a very good business man, he understood the farm needed to step up in work if it was to flourish: lots of work has gone into making this cup the quality one it has become.
Part of this work was to separate the farm into tablons (the Spanish word for plot). It was separated into 8 plots, with 7 of them growing coffee.
The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range near to the town of Turin in the Ahuachapan dept. During the non-picking season 16 people work on the farm maintaining and tending to the plants. During the picking period this goes up to 50 people. The altitude of the farm is 1350m. The coffee is a washed process coffee, and is sun dried on patios.
Listen to Ale's Storey here