Alejandro Valiente’s family has grown coffee in the Metapán region of north-west El Salvador for four generations. When he took control of the wet mill in 2010, he started experimenting with processing techniques, determined to showcase the potential of coffees from this region and to make his mark on the rising specialty scene.
His first ever Pacamara micro-lot, submitted to a pioneering new project organized by the Millennium Fund, immediately gained him attention and plaudits. The standout lot impressed the project coordinators enough to earn Alejandro a visit from Ryan Brown, then the green coffee buyer for Stumptown, who proved to be a great influence on Alejandro’s vision and helped him to explore the untapped potential in the Metapán region.
Alejandro was invited to be involved in agronomy projects in Nicaragua and Guatemala and spent some years sharing his wealth of knowledge there. However, in 2017 he felt the call to return to his roots and apply all that he’d learned to his land and community at home.
It was on his return to the family farm that the Socios de Cosecha (Harvest Partners) project was born. Alejandro assumed a leadership role within his community, helping local producers to develop improved processing techniques. The infrastructure of the mill was upgraded with the construction of three-tiered drying beds – specially designed to hug the trees and feel part of the landscape. A purpose-built cupping lab – with superb views over the surrounding hills – was established on site so that the local farmers can sample the products of their endeavours.
The project now works directly with 67 producers (with farms of 1-3ha) for 100% traceability on each micro-lot, and a fully solar-powered dry mill has been established on site to save on milling costs and to be fully vertically integrated in the supply chain.
The team has been a pioneer in sustainable practices and it’s inspiring to see how seamlessly their practices work with the environment to produce great coffees – summer 2021 has seen a superb selection of honey and natural processed lots from Socios de Cosecha.