Mary and Mauricio Ortiz have been growing coffee together for 30 years. When they first got married they were gifted their land by Mauricio's family and they started to grow coffee there soon after. Mauricio's brother owns a total of 140 hectares of coffee farms named El Sunza, of which El Sunzita is a small part.
The farm is located in the El Paste region of the Santa Ana department of El Salvador. In previous years the coffee produced on El Sunzita's 19 hectares was incorporated with production from the rest of the El Sunza estate, but since 2015 Mary and Mauricio have switched to processing and selling their crop separately. This has enabled them to take more control over farm practices and processing, meaning a higher quality end product and more economical stability for their business. Today El Sunzita has it's own plant nursery and a small depulper on site which means they are able to experiment with different varietal usage, plant maintenance, and processing methods. Step by step Mary and Mauricio have built an incredibly beautiful farm on their land, and their grown-up kids are getting more involved over time as well.
Mary covers administration and business management, while Mauricio is the farm's agronomist and also does consultation with other producers in the area. His focus at El Sunzita is on being as organic as possible, focussing on the three S’s: Soil, Shade, and Sun. Soil ecology is managed via routine testing, ensuring that their plants thrive because there are no mineral deficiencies. Tall trees are grown amongst the coffee plants, providing shade under their canopy. Shade-grown coffee supports the highest diversity of migratory birds, native flora and fauna, as well as reducing soil erosion and water runoff. The shade trees also help to nourish the coffee plants via their carbon and nitrogen-rich leaf litter meaning less fertiliser is required, and what's used is either Biota Organic liquid fertiliser or is produced on the farm from natural waste coffee pulp. Last year Mary received an award from the agricultural minister of El Salvador for Coffee Grower Of The Year because of the innovative processes that they use at their farm. El Sunzita is a great example of driven producers that are putting in the extra work to achieve higher quality.
Fans of our friends 3fe in Ireland and Drop Coffee in Sweden will be familiar with El Sunzita as we have been buying coffee for them from here for many years, but this is the very first time we've gotten to roast it ourselves at Hasbean! This year we will have three separate lots on offer: Red Bourbon, Yellow Bourbon, and Pacas. A few years ago Mauricio noticed that the main varietal growing on their land was a version of Red Bourbon that wasn't found on the rest of El Sunza. As well as striving to improve root strength among their plant stock, agronomy work on the farm has been focussed on identifying and separating the varietals present on the estate. This unique mutation of Bourbon, known as Híbrido El Pasti (hybrid from El Paste) has been isolated and bred due to its incredible cup profile and high yield. Not resistant to leaf rust or disease, it shows many of the positive and negative qualities of Bourbon.
There's a lovely creamy sweetness to this coffee. Cream gives way to soft red apple and sultanas, all rounded out with a little hint of cocoa.