El Molino sits amongst the Apaneca Ilamatepec mountain range, part of the Cordelliera de Apeneca. 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. There are four volcanoes that occur within this range of mountains, with Santa Ana being the more dominant.
The Buena Vista microlot comes from a plot within the Molino farm, named rather straightforwardly for the beautiful view that opens up from there. The varietals used are just the Bourbon and its close relative, Pacas, though there is also Caturra, HSF, and Catuai grown on the farm. The importance of selective picking and attention to detail have very much become a hallmark of the culture and success of the farm, which is owned by Salaverria family member Jose Antonio.
Once picked, coffee is processed at the Beneficio Las Cruces in nearby Santa Ana. A building over 100 years old and described as an ‘antique house’ forms the central part of the mill, with researchers claiming Che Guevara hid there on his journey through Latin America. However, equipment is not that old and has since been renovated and kept up to date with the ability to process washed, semi washed, honey and natural coffees across patios, rasied beds and mechanical driers. Having a centralised mill means focussed staff can pay attention to quality on the farms as well as cherry coming in, process consistency and final cup profile.
The green-tipped dwarf varietal Pacas is fairly common in Central America, a natural single gene mutation of Bourbon. Being smaller results in a potential higher yield for the farmer, as trees can be planted closer together allowing for a greater density per hectare. Named after the owners of the farm it was first spotted on, the Pacas family, it was discovered in the Santa Ana region back in 1949 and now accounts for around 25% of El Salvador’s coffee production.