| Maria and Guillermo Alvarez, Finca Malacara |
The brother sister combo that owns Finca Malacara in El Salvador
I had the good fortune to meet Guillermo Alvarez Prunera and Maria Alverez de Murray, a brother / sister team that owns Finca Malacara, a farm from El Salvador. They were at the Intelligentsia booth. They are the current 4th generation owners of a 27 hectare farm, that provide some of the coffees used in Intelligentsia's Los Inmortales microblend, as well as some of Intelly's Single Origin offerings.
We talked quite a bit about their farm, the way they strive to improve the quality of their coffee, and how a really first rate Director of Coffee like Geoff Watts makes a big difference to them, especially in terms of imrproving the quality, year by year.
As an example, even though their family has been growing and cultivating coffee for decades now, Geoff got involved with them a few years ago, and showed them hands on new ways to pick and sort the coffees to really maximize the flavours. He also spends a lot of time onsite wit them teaching them how their coffees are used in various brewing methods, which both brother and sister said lead to big improvements in how they grow and handle their coffee.
I was especially happy to hear the improvements to the lives of their workers that Maria and Guillermo seem especially passionate about.
They have ten "permanent" families that work their farm year round, and they hire an additional 20 families during picking season. They have recently done a major upgrade to the living facilities for their worker farmers, and they've been adding to the local school that both their workers and the local community uses. They have also done some work introducing and upgrading a local health care facility for the same reason.
Part of what made this possible is the partnership they have with Intelligentsia Coffee, and the fact that now, they're getting multiple dollars per pound of coffee in some cases, whereas in the past, it was a fraction of that. These ethical farmers, who also work very hard on good growing techniques, are really giving back to their community and working with their employees to better the lives of all. It's a great story, and we hope to have even more in a future article on the CoffeeGeek site at some point.