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2014 marks the third year that Water Avenue Coffee has worked with the Menendez family of El Salvador, and each year our relationship deepens. We brought in eight different lots from their network of farms this year, showcasing the best of what they have to offer.

Miguel Menendez Sr is the patriarch of the family and manages the eight farms owned by himself, his children and his siblings in the Apaneca-Ilamatepeq mountain range near Santa Ana. For Miguel Sr coffee is a family tradition as well as his passion. It has been under the guidance of third generation farmer Miguel Sr that they have grown their operation into one of the most respected coffee growing and exporting enterprises in El Salvador, creating the foundation for his children and grandchildren, the fourth and fifth generations to continue his legacy.

We have been offering two lots from the 2013/14 harvest for the last several months (from Finca San Luis and Finca San Antonio) and we’re adding two new lots to the menu for the fall. We’ve chosen to highlight these lots from Buena Vista Estate and Finca El Rosario as examples of the tradition that the Menendez Family continues, as well as their commitment to innovation and continual improvement.

Buena Vista is a great example of a traditional Salvadorian coffee farm that is managed with both quality and responsibility in mind. Of the 30 ha (1 ha is equal to 2.47 acres) of Buena Vista, 25 ha are planted in Red Bourbon, with the remainder set aside as a biological preserve. Preserving their natural resources is vitally important to the Menendez family, and they go to great lengths to preserve the land for future generations. The Apaneca-Ilamatepeq range is home to many natural hot springs, and the farms use the water from these springs in the mills, as well as provide to provide the local communities with drinking water. Their extensive efforts to be responsible to the environment and their community have allowed the Menendez’s farms to acquire Rainforest Alliance certification, one of the most respected environmental and social certifications in the industry.

The flavors in the cup reflect this traditional approach to the craft and art of growing coffee. It is filled with the classic flavors of a great washed El Salvador: brown sugar sweetness, tangerine acidity, and a rich, underlying hazelnut base. This coffee is the Menendez family’s pride and joy, a top performing lot year after year. It is an excellent option for any brewing method, and many report great success as a single origin espresso.

Finca El Rosario, located on the high flat plain between Apaneca and Ataco, often produces unusual and exciting lots and hosts some of the Menendez family’s newer and more experimental varietals. The high elevation (1400 meters) and flat nature of the plain necessitate extensive windbreaks to combat the strong winds that are common there. They have planted native Colpachi trees in over 16 miles of 15 foot tall wind barriers to protect the fragile coffee plants. These windbreaks have the added benefit of naturally dividing the farm into sections perfect for experimentation.

The lot we have brought in this year is a Caturra varietal, a departure from the Menendez family’s more traditional Bourbon and Pacamara varietals. Caturra is directly descended from Bourbon, a natural mutation that was originally found in Brazil. It is a shorter plant, making it more resistant to the winds that are so common throughout El Salvador. It is also somewhat resistant to Roya, a fungus that that is currently wreaking havoc among the coffee farms of Central America. Normally this varietal is grown primarily for its high yields, but under the careful ministrations of the Menendez family it has been transformed into a truly special cup with notes of grapefruit, maple sugar, and pecan. Yet again this is a coffee that performs wonderfully as drip, espresso, or just about any other brewing method.

Both lots will be featured in our café, as well as at select wholesale locations. The Buena Vista lot will also be on the shelves at our grocery customer’s locations. Look for it at New Seasons, Whole Foods, Green Zebra, and Food Front, starting September 23rd, 2014.