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Published, Aug 25, 2020

Sustainability. Santa Elena farm & the man behind it.

One of the cornerstones of our sustainable mission, and recent B Corp certification, is our sourcing program. Our approach to sourcing means that we pay a fair price to the producers, we work with those who have socially and environmentally sustainable practices and we strive to develop long term relationships. The importance of B Corp for us is that it is an independent verification of this, following one of the most rigorous audits out there.

Here we shine a spotlight on one of our longest-standing coffee producing partners, Fernando Lima of Santa Elena. We’ve worked with Fernando for many years. His pulped natural processed bourbon crop forms a critical component of our Resolute Blend. We also work with him on a washed processed, as a UK exclusive for Selfridges restaurants in Oxford Street. Our collaborative relationship with Fernando has also led to some incredible experimentation, including our Lima Tasting Series back in 2016, which you can read about here.

Fernando Lima standing by gates of his farm, Santa Elena

Having worked so closely with Fernando, we've been fortunate to have developed a friendship with him. He’s kind, quiet, and modest. He’s an incredibly hard worker. But also a man of many passions and accomplishments beyond the farm. One of his great loves is running, which he has in common with our Head of Coffee, Freda. As well as a great success, running marathons (he has a host of medals to show for it), Fernando fixes up old bikes. These are French, retro beauties, reminiscent of childhood. It's a hobby that plays to his meticulous character. As well as a relationship borne of shared interests, the hospitality we receive on trips to Santa Elena is full of kindness. As well as Fernando, his wife Magdalena could not be more welcoming. She creates feasts of delicious local food cooked with creativity and flair. They’re just a great couple. With the global pandemic, our visits are currently on hold, but as soon as we’re able, Freda will be out to visit Fernando and Magdalena, bag packed with his favourite Weetabix and Bovril.

As well as the hospitable welcome we receive at Santa Elena, a visit there is soul-quenching stuff. It’s located in one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited on our coffee travels, sitting high above the striking crater lake, Coatepeque, on El Salvador’s Santa Ana volcano. When you stand looking out over the lake, you can feel your shoulders relax.

The view from the Santa Elena farm, which looks over a crater lake. A bird flies overhead.

The combination of the high altitude of the farm, rich volcanic soil and canopy shaded coffee trees creates the perfect environment for a delicious cup; slow ripening of the coffee fruit in a protected low wind environment that is full of nutrients is exactly what a great coffee needs. After nine months of growth, the coffee is hand-picked where it undergoes its first of five levels of sorting, selecting only perfectly ripe cherries. Fernando’s incredible attention to detail in the processing of the coffee is reflected in the vibrancy of the flavours and the strong structure of the cup. Fernando has been growing speciality coffee at the farm for 25 years, during which has won Cup of Excellence six times.

As well as Fernando’s meticulous attention to detail, his approach to environmental sustainability is exceptional, with certifications including Rainforest Alliance, Bird Friendly and certified organic by BCS, a German company operating in Central America through Mayacert. The farm employs 50 full-time workers and 250 part-time, during cropping; it offers medical services to the workers, in the form of monthly on-site medical care.

We’re proud to work with Fernando and look forward to many more years of collaboration. Part of our commitment to B Corp and our ongoing sustainability mission is building and developing on what we currently do. As part of this, we are reviewing our auditing process and will be releasing these in 2021, once the global pandemic permits travel and access to the farms.

An image of Fernando Lima walking into dense bushes on his coffee farm

The Cuzcahapa Co-operative where the Santa Elena coffee is processed