El Salvador was the starting point on our journey in the Central American region to identify potential producers who wanted to sell their coffees at better prices, embrace new ways of working, and focus on quality and better processing practices.
After an unprecedented 2020, we wanted to reward the excellence and commitment of the best-performing coffee growers according to three main criteria: Top Quality Performance and Consistency, Caravela Principles, and Best Farm Management Practices. Thus, last week we held the Coffee Growers’ Commitment to Excellence Event, a small gathering where 13 producers from El Salvador were recognized in 13 categories.
People throughout the industry work tirelessly to bring the best cup of coffee to consumers, but none more so than coffee growers. It has been quite challenging for growers to stay connected or to see their work valued over the last year, beyond a fair price. For us working on-the-ground directly with farmers who supply unmatched quality is truly a privilege. For this event, which was postponed several times due to the pandemic, we sought to recognize coffee growers among their local communities and producer peers for their year-round dedication to quality. They are role models in their communities, veteran farmers to whom other growers can reach out for advice and share experiences, both the good and not-so-good. We believe firmly in the power of creating and boosting the community spirit, to uplift their voices, and help producers connect, to continue building resilient communities which are motivated to produce specialty coffee. After all, there is no specialty coffee, only the special people behind each coffee.
– Top Quality Performance and Consistency: This category evaluated different criteria including a detailed analysis of the crop estimate, the actual flow of coffee during the harvest, and deliveries of parchment coffee. Likewise, criteria such as humidity averages, water activity, yields (parchment to green), productivity per hectare, and improvements in sensory quality were evaluated.
– Caravela Principles: This category recognizes coffee growers who embody the Caravela principles involving long-term relationships, that is, the producer with whom we’ve had a win-win relationship for many years. Likewise, sustainability, a producer who stood out for following and implementing good farming practices and a vision that leads the farm to long-term sustainability. This has been evaluated by analyzing points such as organic matter management on the farm, reforestation, and water management. The principle of education was also important to select an exemplary farmer, which creates a multiplier effect, leaving a positive legacy for their families and coffee community, always seeking to improve the quality of the coffee and collective processes.
– Best Farm Management Practices: For this category, the PECA team analyzed producers’ continued progress and implementation of recommendations given during field visits, remote assistance, and daily/monthly interaction with farmers. Some of the aspects evaluated included fertilization plans and their results or impact on productivity and quality, pest and disease control, renovations, and shade management. These are fundamental to maintaining plantation health, outstanding quality, and long-term sustainability.
Additionally, coffee growers were selected by our Country Manager, Operations Coordinator, and Quality team using the following criteria:
- Analysis and comparison of harvest estimates for 2020 vs. 2021
- Analysis of the volume of parchment coffee delivered during the 2020 harvest vs. 2021
- Weighted averages of total lots delivered and their humidity, the optimal range being 10 to 11%.
- Weighted averages of water activity for all lots delivered, the optimal range being 0.50 to 0.60
- Comparison of cup quality vs. volume delivered per grade. By analyzing these variables, the team identified the producer with the most significant increase in AAA / ML volume. That is, above 45% of their total harvest.
- Global Sustainability Score by farm and farmers practices, analyzing incidence of pests and diseases and practices at the farm level matched with results obtained.
- Drying infrastructure and drying practices. Thus, considering total drying days based on processes and their relationship with humidity, a.W, UV.
All the data used is recorded and stored using proprietary cloud-based ERP systems that are the backbone of our commitment to Transparency and Traceability.
Winning Coffee Growers 2021
Top Quality Performance and Consistency
- Biggest Volume in Parchment Delivered: José Efrain Landaverde Flores, with more than 10,000 kg delivered and the producer with the highest cumulative delivery record in the past.
- Best Yield Ratio (Parchment to Green): Gloria Imelda Portillo, whose average yield was 1.34 vs. a country average of 1.44.
- Best Productivity per Hectare (productive area): Blanca Marina Reina, with 1747 kg per hectare, representing an 8.3% increase in comparison with 2020 harvest
- Best Drying Practices: Renato Díaz
- Biggest Quality Increase: Jose Wilian Díaz, delivering 47% of his harvest with ranges between AAA or ML.
Education: creating a multiplier effect in the community – Irene Gonzales de Rodriguez
Long Term Relationships: Jose Luis Hernández, for demonstrating an unmatched commitment to Caravela and the PECA program.
Sustainability: Jose Ovidio Flores, for best plant in reforestation, living barriers and water resource conservation.
Best Farm Management Practices
- Best Integrated Pest Management Program: Felicita Ditamar Diaz, for managing to lower the Broca incidence level from remarkably high> 4% to <1% using ethological controls
- Best Integrated Disease Management: Willian Ernesto Lemus, whose preventive applications for la Roya yielded incidence levels between 3-4%
- Best Fertilization Plan – Roberto Landaverde Flores. Satisfactory results, using complete formulas, more minor elements and covering the nutritional needs of the soil.
- Best Renovation or Crop Management Plan: Carlos Enrique Posada, for implementing different methods such as pruning, skeleton, and cyclic pruning, achieving satisfactory results and renovation rates.
- Best Shade Management Plan: Alex Joaquin Flores, for achieving an impressive balance between ventilation and sun-light exposure.
In the last harvest, we have seen how the producers of El Salvador, especially in the Chalatenango area, have become specialists or better yet masters in their processes, starting with coffee cultivation, farm management to processing and drying. Although the country has faced a productivity challenge or decrease due to changing weather patterns and in-country structural issues, the coffee growers we work with have been resilient and have demonstrated an unparalleled capacity for adaptation worth celebrating. Starting this with 2021 harvest, we plan to host the Coffee Growers’ Commitment to Excellence Event at the end of each harvest, to continue rewarding producers and recognizing their commitment to growing the best coffee possible.
If you are keen to learn more about these farmers, their stories, and coffees, please reach out to us via social media or contact the sales team directly.
Please note: El Salvador is the Central American country with the highest rate of Covid vaccination in the region; most coffee growers and the population over 25 have received the first and/or second dose. Currently the country has started vaccinating children older than 12 years. In this limited event, all biosecurity measures were taken to protect coffee growers and the Caravela team.
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