The secret diary of a green coffee buyer aged 40 and 1/4

A trip around Central America Day 7 Apaneca San Jose


Day 7 started with the amazing news that for the first day of my trip I had international data roaming on my phone. No more tied to hotspots on peoples iphone and wifi. But I only got the signal if I stood in the garden of Gloria’s house smack in the middle of the lawn, so I sat there for an hour legs crossed, clearing the back log of emails.

Gloria is the owner of San Jose, and some one we have been working with for many years, along with her Daughter Maria Jose and her Son in law Luis. But the last few years I’ve not been able to grab dates with them for visits, so its really good that we could bump diary’s this year and spend a day together.

The first farm we visit is the one I have bought from them, San Jose. We have bought the red bourbon, the orange bourbon and Elephante (an unusual variety found on this farm that has huge fruit, lots of juice inside the cherry but the seed is a standard bourbon size inside). When I say found on this farm, I really mean that, Luis (the son in law) found it whilst working the harvest on San Jose a few years back, and has since been cultivating seeds and plants to grow the production, and a small amount for resale, Has Bean being one of the only roasters in the world to get it.

The farm has really moved on since my last visit, a great deal of renewal of the plants (buy cutting back and pruning) but also the whole shade and clearing. Its a big surprise to see the farm looking so healthy and well. I was told of great problems with leaf rust in El Salvador, and this is unexpected but welcome news

Even the next farm we visit La Lagunita (named after the lagoon thats right next to the farm) seems to be thriving, looking super well, healthy and happy. This was a farm I visited before, and I can see the hard work in the land, and the set up, and an amazing view from the farm of Apaneca.

From here we hike down from La Lagunita and cross the road that is at the lagoon and straight in to Glorias favourite farm Finca Nejapa. This is the top of the farm and we walk down around 100ft from 1700 to approx 1600 zig zagging through the farm. And this take around an hour looking at all the healthy great producing plants. Maria Jose tells me the altitude and the huge shade they have, has helped keep these plants looking strong and healthy and had given them a great harvest to date.

Whilst walking the farm we see a plant that looks like a pacamara, leaf size, plant shape fruit size, the lot, but its yellow. We have only ever seen the yellow lot from Nicaragua before. I think this is very exciting and hope that its something they can harness.

We make our way back to Gloria’s house for yet again a delicious lunch, and a relaxing sit in the middle of the garden for another 30 mins. We then make our way to the mill in Atargo the neighbouring town called El Carmen. Its a big mill but starting to produce micro lots from there. Its great to see the coffee being unloaded from another of Gloria’s farms, and the quality of the picking.

One last beer in the middle of the garden before leaving Gloria’s, I’m so pleased to have made sure I had time to spend with them all, an amazing family who know so much about varietals and plant husbandry.

Another huge drive……. we go three streets away to the next place I’ll be staying, Carmen and Rafael the rock star growers from Finca La Fany and Finca Siberia fame.

Before we eat we go to their new mill thats only been running18 months to see the depulping going on. Its an amazingly professional clean and well run operation, somewhere I’ll be back to tomorrow.

Whilst watching the process myself and Rafael get to talking about rum, as a fellow run aficionado, we compare our favourite drinks. All this talk of rum means we have to go to a brand new bar in atargo called Portland’s. Outside looks like every other building inside a really lovely bar with the most awful band, but a delicious array of central american rums. Much fun was had, so much so that at 11 o’clock we had still not eaten since lunch time. Normally this would call for a kebab but instead a full table of delicious food. Yes I am talking about a lot of food, and thats because its so delicious.

Tomorrows early start maybe fuzzy, I have drunk way too much rum.