Los Pirineos Yeast Fermentation
Tasting Notes: Vanilla / Orange / Sugarcane
Origin: El Salvador [Usulutan]
Process: Washed [Yeast Fermentation]
The Los Pirineos farm has been in the Baraona family for 135 years. The farm is named for the Pyrenees mountain range that separates France and Spain; the Baraonas thought the landscape was very similar. The family ran the coffee farms for generations, and they were a fairly steady source of income until the brutal Salvadoran Civil war forced the family to leave their land for 12 years between 1980 and 1992. During this period they lost 90% of their land. Gilberto Baraona was the only cousin that returned to the farms in 1992, against the wishes of his grandparents, who wanted their descendants to avoid the hardship they had been through during their time producing coffee. From this point on, fourth-generation coffee producer Gilberto sought to rebuild and refocus efforts on the farm. The family now owns and runs 5 farms, a coffee milling and exporting company, and a company who builds mills for other farmers. The farms are all located between 1200 and 1550 masl on the Tecapa volcano, just outside the town of Berlin in the Usulutan region of south-eastern El Salvador. Los Pirineos is the flagship of the project, with the highest altitude and widest selection of varietals, many rather rare. They specialise in Bourbon and Pacamara, and own some of the oldest heirloom Bourbon varietals still existing in El Salvador. The varietal garden is home to more than 17 varietals, and is a World Coffee Research accredited centre for testing experimental new varietals, and for genetic blueprints for iconic varietals such as the Bourbon and Pacamara.
All of the coffee from these farms is processed at the Tecapa mill, located just down the slopes from the Pirineos farm, at 1400 masl on the volcano from which it takes its name. Tecapa was built in 2014, specially designed to process high quality micro lot coffees, and takes cleanliness and systems very seriously. Gilberto compared the operation to a fine dining restaurant, where preparation and systems in the kitchen help to deliver the highest possible quality of final product with minimal stress during service (or harvest) time. This level of control and precision requires a well trained staff, so Gilberto makes sure of high pay and good conditions, meaning even the seasonal workers tend to return year after year. The mill is equipped with all stainless steel tanks and a unique location creates the perfect conditions for fermenting and drying to exacting standards. It is placed in a valley which runs from east to west, giving optimal sun exposure and creating a natural wind tunnel, aiding in drying coffee efficiently. This is also one of the highest altitude mills in the country, so temperatures are comparatively low, leading to longer controlled drying times and better shelf life for the coffees. All of this hard work leads to some of the best coffee in El Salvador, Gilberto’s farms are a mainstay in the top ranks of the El Salvador Cup of Excellence.