Gloria Mercedes Rodríguez Fontan is a name you will probably recognise from a coffee we've had every year for many years, the always awesome Finca San José, check out this year's crop here. She's a fourth-generation coffee grower and owns + personally supervises six small farms located in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range: San José, Mamatita, El Porvenir, Nejapa, Nueva Granada and La Lagunita. This coffee comes from the specific Roma tablón of Nejapa, we last had coffee this farm way back in 2015 and are really excited to see it back in 2021.
Finca Nejapa was inherited by Gloria’s father, José María Rodríguez Herrera, in the 50s. At that time the property was only devoted to cattle for milking purposes, and it was José Maria who started growing coffee of the Bourbon variety. Little by little, he noticed coffee was extremely productive in that area.
The farm has 18.2 hectares of land in total, of which 6.3 hectares are dedicated to growing coffee. The coffee-growing area is divided into three separate plots or 'tablóns'; Los Vientos (2.1 hectares), Santa Marta (1.4 hectares), and Roma (2.8 hectares). The latter is where this coffee comes from.
Nejapa has also 7 hectares of land that was reforested with cedar trees and a diverse range of shade trees, which helps maintain and preserve both the soil conditions and a wide variety of birds and small mammals that can be seen in the region.
This farm is on the slopes of the Laguna de Las Ninfas (which translates as “water lilies lagoon”). It has a spectacular sight over the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, including the impressive Itzalco volcano, and even over the Pacific Ocean and the port of Acajutla.
Tablón Roma is located on the western side of Finca Nejapa. It has belonged to the family over four generations but was left unplanted until relatively recently. That's when Gloria obtained a loan through a local investment bank to redevelop and re-plant this area. The variety chosen for this plot was Caturra; in those days it was in vogue to plant this short-size producing tree with good yields, and it was needed to repay the loan. Happily, variety and terroir combined to result in great quality coffee.
The name ROMA was chosen by combining the first two letters of the names of her children, Roberto and María Jose. This farm was awarded in the El Salvador Cup of Excellence in 2008 and 2009.
Each year Gloria employs around 35 people during the harvesting season, and all year round she manages a permanent "winter works" team of 15 people. The idea is to have a solid trained and skilled working group that receive better wages and working conditions. Gloria pays during harvest around 90% above the legal minimum wage to give workers incentive and assure the best coffee cherries possible. After every production cycle, she gives a proportional bonus according to every week of labour of her “winter workers” that normally derives into 1.2 months extra of income for them.
Gloria works under strict specialty coffee standards. These include fully ripe cherries harvest, careful milling, appreciative pruning, etc. She is blessed with amazing coffee terroir conditions such as altitude and sandy loam soils rich in organic matter, among others. Coffee pickers are selected from her staff based on their experience and passion, and their understanding of the requirements to obtain high-quality coffee. She supervises the whole process directly with the support of Antonio Avelino, her farm foreman.
Super moreish, this reminds me of a pear coated in milk chocolate. There's just a little lime zest on the finish too, but that delicate pear acidity and sweet milk chocolate is the star here.