El Salvador // Beneficio Las Cruces

El Salvador // Beneficio Las Cruces

By Mark Chislett

El Salvador // Beneficio Las Cruces

Working in coffee you’re always learning and over time our approach to sourcing has evolved and changed. What has stayed the same is a desire to foster long-term relationships with everyone involved. Our aim: to help build a more sustainable industry.

Andres Salaverría and the team at Jasal take a similar long-term view; through respect, loyalty and appreciation of consistent and excellent quality. Last year I visited Andres; staying at the mill and experiencing first-hand every aspect of coffee production in this amazing part of El Salvador.

Accompanied by the farm dog 'Kenya', Andres meets me in central San Salvador, from here it's around two hours drive to Las Cruces, where we will stay. 

Beneficio Las Cruces is the name of the mill where Jasal process all the coffees from their surrounding farms. Located in the hills of Santa Ana, the Beneficio comprises a wet mill, dry mill, several drying patios and a cupping lab.

At the centre of the Beneficio, overlooking the patios, is the farm house. A beautiful old building with wooden panels and tiled flooring, Las Cruces is an amazing place surrounded by lush mountainous countryside. From the front room you can see Chingo volcano in the distance. In the mountains behind there are two other volcanos - Santa Ana and Izalco.  Adding to the mystique and charm, it’s said that Che Guevara lodged here for a time in the early 1950’s …

Andres Salaverría is a coffee revolutionary, since 2011 he's been doing amazing work for Jasal - a group of small farms owned and operated by him and his family. The Salaverria’s are fifth generation coffee farmers who we’ve been buying from since 2016. Having strengthened our relationship over the years in 2023 we took the decision to work together more closely and increase our commitment.

Over the space of a few days I visit the main three farms that Las Cruces receives cherry from; looking at all aspects of their operation, from planting and picking through to processing and milling. Las Cruces is centrally located, this means at harvest time cherry can be processed quickly and consistently. The picking standards here are very high - some of the ripest and most uniform selections of coffee cherries I’ve ever seen. It's not just the picking - the quality focus is obvious across all aspects of the harvest.

Equally if not more important to us is the culture and it’s very much a family feel here at Jasal. Many of the workers have been employed with the Salaverria’s for several years; the head coffee-cupper at Las Cruces, Raul, has been working with Andres for 28 years! Raul started out unloading deliveries and turning coffee on the patios and is now responsible for QC across all the farms - it’s no surprise that his knowledge and understanding is invaluable, he’s very familiar with the terroir and what profiles the areas of the different farms can yield.

The Coffees

Ever since we started roasting, coffees from El Salvador have been a regular highlight for us - not surprising when you consider the amazing quality available here. The climate is perfect for production and the flavour profile pleases a wide range of tastes.

We are mainly buying washed coffees of the bourbon cultivar here, alongside smaller lots of honey processed coffee. The conditions are especially good for drying honeys. Andres and the team demonstrate a range of honey preparations and we prepare two micro-lots; one Red Honey lot and a second shade dried Black Honey lot that I process and prepare, a very small lot of just 10 Kilograms but it's incredible to be involved in every step of the preparation.


The farms

The farms are concentrated in one of the best regions in El Salvador for coffee cultivation: the Apaneca-Ilamatepec region. This volcanic range runs through the Ahuachapán, Santa Ana, and Sonsonate departments in the west of El Salvador, and is where many of the Cup of Excellence producing farms in the country are located.

The coffees we buy from Jasal are from two farms - Los Nogales and El Molino.

Los Nogales

An incredibly beautiful plot of land, kept in immaculate condition and dominated by steep, sloping vistas. The farm covers around 28 hectares and is divided into 3 different plots: El Roble, Capulin and Miramar. As you may guess, Miramar occupies the higher ground, this parcel of land sits at around 1700M - our honey processed coffees are grown here.

El Molino

is the largest farm in the Jasal estate, much of the farm faces away from the ocean and the topography is more varied. Parts of the farm feature very structured wind breakers, other sections are dominated by scatterings of shade trees. The farm covers 215 ha of land, divided into 11 different plots with an altitude range of 1,300 – 1,700masl. 

We began the farm tour at the lowest part of the farm, El Padre, that was in full bloom from scattered lower altitude rains. The smell of coffee blossom sat in the air as the bees buzzed around. The coffees we buy from El Molino are washed and feature in our ChuCho and Oca blends.

We're currently roasting the Red Honey processed lot from Los Nogales, you can find out more here