Ernesto Menéndez - Los Andes
Location: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range, Santa Ana, El Salvador
Farm Size: 5 hectares
Elevation: 1400 meters above sea level
Varietals: Bourbon, SL28
Bought since: 2014
Los Andes is a very interesting coffee produced by an outstanding coffee producer, Ernesto Menéndez, a well-known name in the coffee industry. He has won the Cup of Excellence several times, and we are proud to be buying the coffee from Los Andes exclusively to Drop Coffee. Ernesto started separating the SL28 from the Bourbon for us a few years ago, and since a couple of years he is doing a natural process for us as well. This means you can taste two very unique taste profiles from Los Andes, that have been grown side by side at the farm as well as the Bourbon in two different processing methods.
El Salvador is a place we love to visit every year as there is so much happening at the farm level. And many of the producers we are working with here has certainly become important friends, personally and in business. That said, El Salvador has a lot of violence and without their guidance, there is no chance we could get to buy their excellent coffees. *
Los Andes is exclusively Drop coffee, it is about 5 hectares which is a bigger size for us at the moment but we find it worth taking a little more of this coffee, for the clear cooperation between Drop Coffee and Los Andes. Ernesto holds a lot of knowledge and is always very communicative about how he is taking care of the farm, and how he is processing the coffee. Walking the farm together with him is like opening a true treasure, he holds so much knowledge and skills from the agriculture, processing and to the cupping table.
Los Andes has quite an interesting story: Almost 70 years ago, the previous owner of the farm planted SL28 seed on the farm, seeds which had been taken home to El Salvador from a hunting trip in Kenya. Normally the trees we buy coffee from are about 4-20 years old, not 60-70. The Bourbon varietal is growing right beside the SL28, some of the trees are even older, coming up to 80 years. Bourbon coffee was first produced in Reúnion, which was known as Île Bourbon before 1789. It was later taken by the French to mainland Africa and to Central America. The taste profile of Bourbon is one that we like the most in El Salvador, its mature sweetness matches the slightly bigger mouthfeel that is typical for the country. The SL28 trees have of course naturally adapted to the conditions in Apaneca and El Salvador and will therefore not taste like a Kenyan coffee per se, it will taste like an El Salvadorian SL28 grown following Ernestos farming philosophy.
At every coffee farm the plants are unique. At Los Andes everything is left to grow "wild" to create a more wild forest environment. The plants age and grow into the natural forest environment that Ernesto is looking for, the plants make the environment really special, almost magical.