Finca Bosque Lya achieved fame in specialty coffee circles when it took first place in the 2004’s Cup of Excellence competition. Whilst the competition’s focus is all about cupping, if extra points were awarded for a farm’s beauty then Bosque Lya would be in an even stronger position. This is a 96 hectare farm - 64 of which are dedicated to coffee, the balance being left as natural rainforest. However, in many parts of the farm it is difficult to recognise what is pure forest and what isn’t, since so many shade trees are used. There is an abundance of wildlife including birds such as humming birds, orioles and hawks and many migratory bird species. Mammals include wild cats, armadillos, deer and possum. There are endless beautiful flowers including colourful rare orchids and epiphytes that grow on the branches of the trees. The views from this farm are also jaw dropping, with the mountains and volcanoes of west El Salvador and Guatemala on the horizon. The towering El Chingo Volcano takes centre stage in this dramatic scene.
Finca Bosque Lya is situated in the municipality of Santa Ana on the foothills of the Ilamatepec Bosque Lya – or ‘Lya’s forest’ farm is near to the Santa Ana Volcano in the Apaneca Mountain range of western El Salvador. The farm was established in 1932 when Gustavo Vides Valdes named his property in honour of his newly born daughter, Lya. Bourbon is the most prevalent variety on the farm – mainly red though but there is a little orange and yellow too - though there are many other varieties grown for experimentation and diversity, including Pacamara, Caturra and Typica.
An altitude range of 1,473 to 1,650 metres above sea level brings about coffees of great complexity that are sweet and lively. Ripe red cherries are handpicked between January and March and taken to a collection point to be hand-sorted by pickers before being taken to the El Borbollon mill. On arrival, the cherries are emptied into separate tanks for different lots from farms around the region. Water is used to move the cherries up a pump and into a ‘Pacas’ depulper (of El Salvadorian origin) which works using a cylinder pushing against a metal wall to remove the skin of the cherry from the beans.
The pulped cherry is composted with calcium and then re-distributed between farmers using the mill as fertiliser for the next harvest. The sticky beans are then moved in channels to fermentation tanks where they will rest for 13 to 15 hours and naturally present bacteria and microbes break down the sugars and alcohols in the mucilage of the bean. At the mill we asked for them to produce
a natural lot for us this year using the ripe cherry selected from the best sections of the farm.
The cherry is delivered from the farm where it is then floated and separated to ensure only ripe cherries are used in producing these lots. Once ready the cherry is moved to the patio usually late in the afternoon so they lose the initial moisture without ‘heat shock’ from the strong afternoon sun. They are then left for 48hrs to settle and not raked to prevent the skin of the cherry being damaged whilst soft. The coffee is turned every 45 minutes to 1 hour on the patio until it reaches moisture of 11%. Usually the drying on the patio will take between 10-14 days. Here it is then left to rest in bags in grain pro to settle for 30 days before being hulled ready for shipment.