Near Santiago de Maria in southeastern El Salvador, high in the mountains of Cerro El Tigre, lies the Finca Las Mercedes family of farms. Finca Las Mercedes has been passed down through five generations of the Ortiz family and now has more than a dozen coffee varieties in production. Through their 125-year history, they have obtained a reputation as one of the elite producers in El Salvador. We've partnered with them since 2006, when they won El Salvador Cup of Excellence.
Lucia Ortiz manages marketing and relationships for the farm, and we have worked closely with her to make sure we can remain a strong partner for years to come. We have now offered coffee from four individual farms within the larger Finca Las Mercedes operation: Las Mercedes, La Avila, El Rubi, and La Primavera.
Finca Las Mercedes has everything we look for in a Direct Trade partner. All processing is done directly on the farm. They go to great lengths to ensure that their coffee is as pure and clean as possible. After the coffee is harvested, it is brought to ceramic-tiled tanks to be screened for defects before being processed. They adhere to strict guidelines about which cherries are accepted, because cherries with questionable ripeness have an adverse effect on the quality of the cup. The Las Mercedes mill uses the wet process, although other farms within the family of farms use a variety of processing techniques, including the semi-washed or honey process, and have experimented with a “Double-Soak” process similar to a process used in Kenya.
The family's dedication to sustainable practices, both environmentally and socially, is commendable. Initiatives for the local community involve funding and supplying a local school; operating a medical clinic that offers free check-ups, vaccination campaigns, dental care, and first aid training; and improving clean water access for the local community. PT’s has pitched in with their efforts by providing medicines for the local clinic and soccer balls for the local team. The clinic currently serves more than 13 communities that surround Las Mercedes.
Finca Las Mercedes is constantly making efforts to preserve natural wildlife by taking special care of the disposal of all by-products from the processing mill in order to avoid contamination to the local streams. And in compliance with the Rain Forest Alliance certification, any chemicals and pesticides are carefully stored and managed by trained personnel, avoiding intoxications and contaminations.
Past offerings from Finca Las Mercedes: