Thumbnail Filmstrip of El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro Burundi Process Images
About El Salvador Finca Kilimanjaro Burundi ProcessThis year we purchased two different preparations of Aida Batlle's excellent Kilimanjaro coffee, Natural, which was offered and has sold out, and this uncommon Burundia double soaked process. Each process appeals to different palates, though many of us love both of them. These coffees arrived beginning October 2022 in vacuum packaging as new crop and this is the first offering of the Burundi processed version. This coffee is very sought after by our clients each year. It was unavailable in 2021 and in short supply this year due to small, though excellent quality crop size throughout Central America this season. This is likely to sell out quickly as we have a rather small quantity available.
Finca Kilimanjaro is a very high quality coffee from El Salvador and is processed to order. Starting a decade or more ago we were trying to form a direct trade relationship with Aida Batlle (pronounced Bot-lay) over the course of several years but all of her coffee had been spoken for. As we got to know one another and as the production from her signature Kilimanjaro farm slightly expanded, we finally were able to acquire this wonderful coffee and take advantage of the custom preparation that she offers.
Aida Batlle has made quite a name for herself in the specialty coffee industry in recent years and this coffee is a testament to her glowing reputation. Aida is a fifth-generation coffee farmer who, while she is native to Miami, produces some of the world's best coffee on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano in Western El Salvador. Her approach, when it comes to coffee, is as unique as the cherry she produces. She questions why there can be hundreds of types of wines but when it comes to coffee the playing field is too narrow; thus, she urges consumers to understand that all coffees taste different and they should be acknowledged for their individual characteristics as with different wine or whiskey.
The story behind her farm is a special one that pulled her back to her Salvadoran roots a little more than a decade ago. With constant threat to life and land the Batlle family took refuge in Miami during the Salvadoran civil war which ranged from 1980 to 1992. Roll the clock forward. After settling down in Nashville at the age of 28 she felt she would instead be more helpful to her father, Mauricio, who was now back on his coffee farm in El Salvador struggling to make ends meet amidst a plummeting coffee market. In 2002 she arrived in Santa Ana to reevaluate her family's coffee farm and unearth the hidden potential she knew it had due to ideal conditions such as volcanic soil and high altitude. When Aida arrived her father had been selling his harvest to the local mill, a very common practice among farmers. His coffee was mixed with lots from nearby farms and sold as a generic Salvadoran blend. Shortly after her return to her native country her father gave her control of the farm and she set out to improve each facet of production.
Her perspective was unique as she came from the United States where there is a premium placed on quality produce and other food items. Aida took this mentality and translated it into her work on the coffee farm, but not without skepticism from farm managers who were not keen on implementing new quality practices under the authority of a novice, female producer. Eventually the farm management embraced her new standards for quality and respected the amount of time and nurturing that Aida put into harvesting only the ripest, deeply red colored coffee cherries. Her technique was a stark contrast to the centuries old practice to pick coffee whether or not ripe or healthy, just to have a larger harvest and ignoring the quality of each individual cherry before adding it to the pile.
In 2003 Aida's coffee had its first shot at the spotlight when she entered coffee from Finca Kilimanjaro in the inaugural Cup of Excellence competition in El Salvador. Judges at the competition noted that the coffee had great flavor, brightness, and balance and they awarded it the 1st Place coffee of the competition, putting her farm on the international map for the first time, but certainly not the last. After the CoE competition Aida's incredibly high standards were not seen with skepticism but rather with respect and eagerness to produce quality coffee from there on out. Coffee that has been approved by her standards is deemed "Aida Batlle Selection" and cannot wear this stamp if it is not of the utmost quality.
Finca Kilimanjaro is a combination of Kenya SL-28 and Bourbon. Bourbon came to El Salvador more than a century ago, acquired from Guatemala by the then governor of Santa Ana Province, and who just happened to be Aida Batlle's great-great-grandfather. Aida has taken coffee to a new level since it was first introduced by her family and is renowned in the coffee world for her intricate level of detail and processing. She is known for experimenting with processing methods, creating a unique and highly customized coffee for the consumer. Much of her success can be attributed to her cultural diversity paired with her agricultural ideals that had been otherwise unseen prior to her introduction to the coffee scene. Aida has a keen understanding of what makes quality coffee from cherry to beverage and she utilizes her knowledge every step of the way. This concept was summarized quite perfectly by an article in The New Yorker Magazine that stated, "In an industry where farmers and connoisseurs have often been kept apart, Batlle is both - she's a producer who speaks fluent customer."
In a conversation we had recently with Aida we talked about the varieties on the farm. She said that her father did some extensive planting of Kenya SL-28 years ago nd that the Kilimanjaro was a blend with 80% of it and the balance of Red Bourbon. This mix is what Kilimanjaro has been best known for and explains some of the special flavor presented in her coffee. The mix remains the same regardless of her assortment of processing methods.
- Producer: Aida Batlle
- Farm: Finca Kilimanjaro
- Altitude: 1580 - 1720 masl; 5200 - 5600 feet
- Process: Burundi style washed, double soak
- Size: 23 hectares; 55 acres
- Annual Rainfall: 2200mm
- Harvest: January - March
- Variety: 80% SL-28, 20% Bourbon
The Burundi style processing seeks to replicate the way washed processing is done in Burundi itself. The Burundi processing seeks to replicate the way washed processing is done in Burundi itself. After harvesting only the ripest fruit for which Aida is known, coffee is then depulped and spends 24 hours of DRY fermentation, being washed every 12 hours. That means they add a little bit of fresh water and turn the coffee with a wooden paddle at two invervals. That is then followed by 24 hours of UNDER WATER fermentation, washing again every 12 hours. Lastly, when the mucilage is completely gone, the parchment (coffee in its husk) then goes back into a fermentation tank to soak in fresh water for 24 additional hours. At the end of these three days coffee is spread on drying beds to sun dry.
Cup Characteristics: Aromas of brown sugar and savory spices. Flavors of lemon, baked apple, cherry and pie spices. Very clean and sweet.
Roasting Notes: The SL-28 variety makes this a bit like roasting Kenya coffee. These beans are hard and dense and can be roasted to a variety of darkness levels. Most floral and delicate notes will be presented at City+ to FC range. The delicate nuances of this coffee will present themselves at lightly roasted levels but be sure to have a full first crack and extend it 90 or more seconds if your roaster has such capability.