FLAVOUR PROFILE: Cherry and lime with caramel and hazelnut butter with milk chocolate
FARM: Finca Bosque Lya
LOCATION: Santa Ana, El Salvador
ALTITUDE: 1470-1650 masl.
VARIETAL: Red Bourbon
Finca Bosque Lya gained prominence in the specialty coffee community when it clinched the top spot in the 2004 Cup of Excellence competition. While the competition focuses on the coffee's taste, if aesthetics were considered, Bosque Lya would shine even brighter. This sprawling 96-hectare estate, with 64 hectares dedicated to coffee and the rest preserved as natural rainforest, exudes remarkable beauty. The farm's landscape, adorned with abundant shade trees, often blurs the line between untouched forest and cultivated land. A profusion of wildlife calls this place home, from vibrant hummingbirds and orioles to majestic hawks and migratory species. Wild cats, armadillos, deer, and possums roam alongside an array of colorful orchids and epiphytes that drape the tree branches. The farm's vistas are equally breathtaking, offering views of the towering mountains and volcanoes of western El Salvador and Guatemala, with El Chingo Volcano commanding the scene. Situated near the Santa Ana Volcano within the Apaneca Mountain range in western El Salvador, Bosque Lya—meaning 'Lya's forest'—captures the essence of natural wonder.
From January to March, skilled pickers harvest ripe red cherries by hand. These cherries are transported to a collection point for meticulous hand-sorting before making their way to the El Borbollon mill. Here, the cherries are sorted into separate tanks based on their farm origins. The pulped cherries are enriched with calcium and then redistributed to local farmers as fertilizer for the upcoming harvest, contributing to sustainability.
Subsequently, the sticky beans are guided through channels to fermentation tanks, where they rest for 13 to 15 hours. During this period, natural bacteria and microbes play a role in breaking down sugars and alcohols present in the bean's mucilage. After fermentation, the beans undergo a thorough washing process in machines that recycle water and prepare the beans for drying on patios. These patios ensure separation by lot, with drying lasting approximately 8-10 days. El Borbollon is even experimenting with extending drying times, anticipating enhanced flavor complexity.
Following drying, the beans' parchment is allowed to rest for around six weeks before hulling, which removes the parchment. Once hulled, a group of around 40 skilled women meticulously hand-sort the beans to eliminate any defects. These dedicated workers are paid above minimum wage and play a crucial role in maintaining quality. The mill's owner, Eduardo, emphasizes their value, as employing them sustains the local workforce. Once this comprehensive hand sorting is completed, the sorted beans are packed into GrainPro and 69kg jute bags, prepared for shipment to the UK.