Mario Acosta is a fourth generation coffee farmer from El Salvador and is the proud owner of Finca Nazareth in El Salvador’s famous Ahuachapán region. The farm has been under production since 1908 and straddles the privileged elevation of 1,300 to 1,450 meters above sea level in El Salvadors protected biosphere of Apaneca-Ilamatepec. It is prime coffee growing territory, evidenced by Mario’s placing in the prestigious Cup of Excellence Competition in 2011.
Mario and his family have three estates in this region, all near the town of Concepcion de Ataco. The town itself has been under some form of human occupation for 1,500 years, and civilisation in the area goes back even further. Evidence of human civilisation has been found extending back 2,600 years. The land is peppered with ruins of Pipil and Kaki structures; in fact, on one of the family farms (nearby Nazareth), there exist two pyramids dating back to 200-900 AD that have been preserved intact, and it is a regular occurance that artifacts thousands of years old are regularly turned up while cultivating the land. Many indigenous cultural practices and customs persist, particularly in the smaller villages surrounding Ataco, contributing cultural richness to this already biologically diverse region.
The family takes their role of stewards of the land very seriously and have gone great lengths to achieve Rainforest Alliance and C.A.F.E. Practices certification. They take a holistic approach to sustainability, which includes the well-being of ecosystems as well as societies. To them, the interests of humans and nature are intertwined and dependent on development that is environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable. They do their utmost to protect wildlife and conserve sources of water, ensure good working conditions for their workers and have occupational health and safety programs in place.
Mario and his family also take a stringent approach to quality. The coffee on the family’s farms is selectively hand harvested, with only the best and ripest cherries being selected at each ‘pass’. All coffee is meticulously sorted before being delivered for processing to the nearby Beneficio El Carmen. Fernando Alfaro, the owner of the mill and El Carmen Estate, works with the family to process their coffee to their specifications so as to assure its quality and consistency. The majority of coffee from Nazareth is fully washed, soaked and pre-dried. However, very special lots, such as this one, are processed using the natural processing method, for which El Carmen mill is increasingly renowned.
After cherries are sorted by hand again at the mill, they are delivered to dry on African Beds or on the mills extensive clay patios for 21 days, where they are regularly raked (initially every 20 minutes) to ensure even drying. Lots that start in the beds will spend an additional three to four days on clay patios, for a total drying time of around 26 days.
Finally, the beans are prepared and all defects removed and screened to uniform size.
Mario’s main objective is to continue the standards and encourage participation in competitions and the like to raise awareness of the quality that is harvested on his farm.
Finca Nazareth - El Salvador
toffee | caramel | nuts
Farm: Finca Nazareth
Varietal(s): 100% Bourbon
Altitude: 1,350 to 1,450 meters above sea level
Owner: Mario Acosta
Town: Canton Quezalapa
Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec, Ahuachapán
Country: El Salvador
Total size of farm: 24.45 hectares
Area under coffee: 24.45 hectares
Prizes: 2011, El Salvador COE #11