Let’s talk about coffee picking

This is a very important part of the year for us … coffee farmers. We are beginning our harvesting period, and the fruit of our work will be rated. However, our work is still not finished and harvesting plays a critical part in the quality of coffee. Even if the coffee trees have been properly nourished, guarded from diseases, protected from the wind and from too much sunshine; if the coffee is not picked at the proper ripeness the quality will be damaged.

Ripeness can be determined by the colour of the cherry. The best time to harvest is when the cherries are red, just before they begin turning into a dark violet colour.

During the harvesting, workers put into their baskets only the “red coloured” cherries. At the end of the day, they go through what they have picked and separate the ripe red cherries from any green, unripe (orange-yellowish), over ripe (violet) or dry cherries that might have been picked.

Full mature cherries will produce the sweet taste we look for in a Specialty Coffee cup. The terroir and the environment that surrounds the coffee forest will also accent floral, nuts and fruit notes that will be perceived in the aroma and cupping profile of the coffee. Once the coffee has been picked it begins its natural fermentation process; therefore, it is important to take the coffee to the mill for same day processing.

Why can the different levels of ripeness damage the quality of the cup?

Green and Unripe cherries are coffee beans that did not finish their evolution process. They will give an astringent taste to the cup quality, thus affecting its sweetness. Over ripe cherries and cherries that are not processed on the same day of harvest will give a sour fermented and unpleasant taste.

Our farms are beginning to turn red, in the next few weeks we will begin the picking of red ripe cherries. The mountains are looking beautifully green and red, and soon we will hear the sound and echoes of our workers singing and laughing while they enjoy the new harvesting period. Trees will be filled with sweet, honey, juicy coffee cherries that will be exported around the world.

In the mean time, and until you come to visit… here is a small view of nature’s beauty. Look forward to seeing you soon!121124 Maduración café

Advertisements

Let´s talk about Roya

Roya is a disease caused by the Hemileia Vastatrix fungus. It germinates with water and young living plant tissue, and causes leaves to fall down from the trees leaving coffee cherries exposed to the sun and wind thus producing:

  1. Acceleration of the maturity process
  2. Cherries that will not be able to reach ripeness
  3. Lighter weight cherries
  4. Ripeness in different stages, not all at the same time
  5. Damage to the vegetation growth that will support more than 50 to 70% of the next year´s crop (2013)

In normal rainy seasons Roya begins its multiplication and dissemination between May and September. But the highest incidence is observed between the months of December and January (dry season).

Similarly to what happened in 1981 and 1982, the heavy rains that were received in El Salvador in 2011 and 2012 have not allowed Roya to diminish its levels as it would on a normal year. On the contrary, it gave it the perfect condition to grow rapidly in April and May 2012; thus El Salvador´s coffee forest have experience heavy Roya problems in August and September.

Due to the world wide climate changes, Roya is a problem that is not only seen in low areas, but it is now affecting high grown and strictly high grown crops.

Farms that are most affected are those with:

  1. Old Coffee trees and trees that have not been pruned
  2. High incidence of ground plagues
  3. Soils with bad nutrition and/or high acidity
  4. Varieties that are not resistant to Roya such as those of the Arabica variety (95% of the coffee forests in El Salvador)

For those farms that still have one or more months before they begin picking, PROCAFE has recommended to apply a systemic fungicide and a foliar fertilizer containing Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Boron and Zinc.

The proper management of our farms through renovation of the coffee forest, pruning, fertilizations, plague control and fungicide applications in March and August have allowed us to have a low incidence of Roya in our fields (between 10 and 20%). At the time we are following Procafe´s recommendation and are applying in addition to the systemic fungicide Boron, Zinc and organic juices to help prevent mayor damages.

Source of Information on Roya: Procafe, El Salvador

Let´s talk about Health

Among some of the causes of health problems in El Salvador we can mention: air contamination, lack of potable water, poor education on hygiene standards, bad nutrition habits and poverty.

According to statistics provided by the Health Ministry in El Salvador in the year 2008 the main diseases that affected the population (all ages) of El Salvador were:

Disease Percentage   Rate
Acute   Respiratory diseases 26%
Urinary   diseases 5%
Digestive   system diseases 4%
Skin   problems 4%
Traumas 4%

Respiratory problems, digestive/diarrhea and skin diseases were the highest problems suffered by children under the age of 14.

To help reduce these problems in the communities with which we work, we have taught them on the importance of washing their hands before eating, boiling water used for drinking, the use of latrines and the importance of having a healthy balanced diet combined of fruits and vegetables.

On a permanent basis we conduct campaigns that include free medical appointments with physicians of different specialties such as internal medicine, cardiologists, gynecologists, dentists and ophthalmologists among others. At the same time we have counselors available that advice with spiritual teachings to those with emotional problems.

Last September 1st we conducted a Medical Campaign were more than 300 people were blessed with check-ups, free medicines and glasses, here is the video. Hope you enjoy it.

Let´s talk Safety

“He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.”                                                                                                                      Ecclesiastes 10: 8-10

Since the beginning of times risks have been around us, and as the verse above advices: “it is of wise to recognize danger and prevent it.”

The past few months we have been investing time in workshops that will prepare our people to work in a safer atmosphere. A committee has been formed to identify the possible risks in each of the work areas. When we talk about risks we take into consideration: physical, mechanical, chemical, biological, and psychosocial risks that could be affecting the workplace. The committee has been formed by key administration, mechanic, electrical and agricultural people. Having a good representation of all areas allows us to consider all possible risks.

At the time we have reviewed all aspects on the agricultural side and have been satisfied to find that there are no mayor observations or risk factors encountered in our processes. However, there are uniform & equipment policies that need to be reinforced.

Training will be the key to the success of this program. Sometimes, workers are reluctant to use safe procedures because they are used to doing things their own way. It is going to be the role of the farm butler to point out the consequences of not using the proper procedures that have been placed for their own safety. More visual aid in forms of posters will also be put as reminders of important procedures.

Next month we will review processes related to milling, transportation and medical emergencies.

All risk factors are being measured by the level of consequences they might have and the probability they may occur. Those that represent an “intolerable risk” are the first that will be looked into.

The whole process may take up to a year to be implemented, but we expect the most important factors to be fixed by the beginning of the next agricultural season.

Lets talk about coffee forest renewal

For the past decades our company has been working hard to increase the quality of the coffee it produces; making sure the trees and the soil are well maintained and that the cherries are properly handpicked and processed.

In our farms we had trees that were up to 50 years of age and which had to be replaced by new ones if we wanted to increase the quantity of coffee produced. So, in the year 2007 we began a project designed to renew our coffee forest.

The coffee trees in our nursery come from the careful selection of seeds of those coffee trees in our farms that have proven to be more resistant to plagues, weather inclemency and which have had a better yield and have achieved higher cup quality scores. To reproduce these seeds, we only pick ripe cherries that are in the middle of carefully selected branches. The coffee is processed and dried separately making sure its humidity does not fall below 20 degrees. Before it is cultivated, the coffee is cleaned by removing any seeds that are not suitable for reproduction.

We cultivate the seeds in the nursery during the month of November and on July we transport and plant them in the farms. The response of the plant at this early stage has proven to be better than if we wait for the plant to be older.

All our farms are planted mainly with the Arabica Bourbon variety. However, Shalom farm is planted mostly with Arabica Pacas, a variety that grows well, has excellent cup quality and is more resistant to the microclimate of such farm.

This year we are planting 40,942 new trees throughout the farms, on average we try to have between 1,750 to 2,100 plants per hectare. At the time 38% of our coffee forest has been renovated.

Let´s talk about our school proyects

Through our Non Profit Organization named Fundacion Monte Sion Nuevo Amanecer, our company takes active roles in the progress of the communities were our farms reside. The program has been designed to provide a better lifestyle for its workers, their families and the communities. Activities can be classified in three important areas: health, education and spiritual growth.

In terms of health, we have been working together with a Christian Non-Profit organization to help two schools: one near Monte Sión “Escuela Tapacun” and the other near Shekinah annex farms “Escuela Los Arevalos”.

In spite that there is a Government Nutritional Program for public schools, some rural area schools cannot be benefited from such program because of their locations; and these two schools are not the exceptions.

In January we began providing a meal to the 160 pupils from these two schools. They have been fed with: cereal, rice, beans, minestrone soup, dried and canned fruits, among other. Knowing that care also depends on the child´s home lifestyle, on a monthly basis parents are invited to receive a bag full of provisions. We take this opportunity to teach the parent on the importance of hygiene, nutrition factors, education and a balanced life.

By the end of the year we will be able to measure the impact that these efforts have meant in the growth of our children. We are pleased to testify that children look healthier and we have the satisfaction of knowing that a balanced meal guarantees a better intelligence development for them.

Finally, if the schools are able to purchase a piece of land, the non-profit organization has promised to build them a new school; one with more healthy construction standards such as cement floor and built with bricks instead of mud material.

These activities in addition to those health and educational programs that Fundacion Monte Sion Nuevo Amanecer has in its yearly plan will help in the development of the younger generations…after all they are the future of our country.

 

Emerson Nathanael is an 11 year old boy, studying 5th grade at Escuela Los Arevalos.

His dream is to become a lawyer.Emerson Nathanael is an 11 year old boy, he is studying 5th grade at Escuela Los Arevalos. His dream is to become a lawyer.

Let´s talk about our farm names

Many people are curious as to where our farm names come from. Normally, you find that farms have been named after their original owners or with names that describe the farm.

We believe that God has a purpose in our lives, and that our farms can be blessed with the names we give them. There is a promise in the Bible Scriptures that says:

“With the fruit of a man´s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit” Proverbs 18:20-21

This is why we have commercially changed our farm names to give them meaning:

  1. Finca Monte Sion (originally “Monterrey” meaning King of the Mountains)- Mount Zion is one of the hills on which stands the city of Jerusalem. King David took the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Zion were it rested for many years until the Temple was built by his son King Salomon. Since then, Mount Zion has been considered a holy mountain.
  2. Finca Manantiales (originally Los Rivera, a family name)– now meaning place of water springs. During times of trouble you can always find rest in a place of water springs. God is our water spring; he can solve our problems if we ask him to. “For in Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light” Psalms 36:9.
  3. Finca Cielito Lindo- this is the original name this farm had when we purchased it. We felt we did not need to change its name because it also has a spiritual meaning. When we think of “Cielito Lindo” or a “Beautiful Sky” we can imagine a blue color, with calm winds, freshness and the peace that God wants us to have.
  4. Finca Shekinah (originally “Santa Marta”, probably named after a person or a saint)– from a Hebrew origin, Shekinah means the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God. It was presented in the form of a cloud which appeared when God protected and led his people through the desert and also when His Glory filled the Jerusalem Temple.
  5. Finca Shalom (Originally “San Cayetano”, probably named after a person or a saint)– Shalom comes from the Hebrew word that means peace: Peace between human beings, Peace within ourselves and Peace in our relationship with our Creator: God.
  6. Beneficio Maranatha (Our Mill was named Maranatha since the beginning) – an Aramaic word for “Christ is coming”; it was one of the early Christian prayers that asked for Christ to come back… and it´s the promise that we received as Christians and guarantees us eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.