Within hours of harvest the cherries are brought to the on-farm mill and depulped, leaving a small amount of mucilage clinging to the parchment layer surrounding the beans. The coffee is left in a fermentation tank where enzymes break down the sweet, honey-like mucilage. After fermenting for 12-18 hours the coffee is sent through washing channels to completely clean it. Up to this point, the process is identical to a washed coffee. Next, the coffee is moved into a special tank to soak for an additional 24 hours. The tank is then emptied, and the process is repeated, filling the tank again and letting the coffee rest for 18-24 additional hours. After the second soak, the coffee is moved to drying patios.
In 2012 Lucia de Ortiz, manager of the farm for the family Ortiz, first sampled this experiment was very pleased with the results. Out of curiosity, she sent the coffee to be evaluated by a panel of cuppers at the Consejo, or quality control lab for El Salvador. The cuppers were so impressed with the coffee that, without Lucia’s knowledge, they submitted it to the 2012 El Salvador Coffee of the Year competition, where it took 1st Place!
Owned by the 5th generation of the Ortiz Barriere family, Finca Las Mercedes is everything we look for in a Direct Trade partner—and we've worked with them since 2006. Currently led by our friend Lucia Ortiz, Las Mercedes has become one of the top quality coffee producers in El Salvador. In fact, a lot from their La Avila farm won the El Salvador Coffee of the Year competition in 2012.