Meet Rolando Ramirez Moreno
New producer for Round Hill Roastery
During our time in El Salvador back in 2016 we were really fortunate to meet Rolando a new producer for us and also for our importer Mercanta. Coffee has been in his family for three generations and in 2005 Rolando decided to commit himself further into the coffee world by taking on new farms trading under the company name of Cayro.
We spent the day with Rolando being driven around in Mitsubishi Sport Shogun I believe (sorry not that it enhances the coffee but it adds to the off road charm). We started by visiting Montes Urales a coffee which we were roasting late last year. Rolando explained how El Salvador has had it rough the past few years, produces have gone out of business and many of the areas farms have been abandoned due to leaf rust. To combat this Rolando has planted shade trees however they are planted in a way which makes the farm look more like field. The trees are more hedge like boxing in the coffee trees to protect them from the winds that carry the fungus which destroys the coffee leaves. This serves many other purposes too, Montes Urales is high altitude and really on the edge of the world! the shade trees offer protection from the relentless coastal wind and help keep the soil from eroding. Coffee farming is hard work!
While standing at the edge of the cliff (farm) Rolando then tells us about his love for surfing and casually asks if we have time for a surf! I was so committed to jump in a go for it however we had the wet mill to visit and a cupping in the afternoon maybe next year!
From here we drove to the Cayro Company Mill in Ahuachapan (about 30 mins away). Now this is no ordinary drive we drove what felt like a secret James Bond villain bunker movie set, Rolando took it in his stride...you know it's his daily commute. I had to ask what was happening. Rolando turned around and in his very chilled out way explained, "oh yeah my mill is near the only Geothermic Electric Energy plant in El Salvador." It was truly mad, steam erupting from huge tubes coming from the ground harnessing the power from the volcano.
Now after that the mill had to be impressive. Low and behold it was, a patio large enough to play rugby, and loads and loads of raised drying beds.
Rolando explains that it is not the norm for farmers to process their own coffee at the farm it is much more common to take your cherries to a local mill. Obviously Rolando processes all his own coffee but he also processes and sorts other farmers coffees in the local area too. He then explained that since the massive fall in production any smaller farmers, and large ones for that matter are turning to processing to create more value for their smaller harvest. Hence the need for so many drying beds, Red Honey, White Honey, Natural, the list goes on they are doing it. All this requires constant turning and lots of space.
After a tour of the Mill we are shown into the cupping lab. Pretty much all of the cupping is done in the Capital San Salvador, however Rolando and his team kindly make a make shift lab in the back of his roastery. Yes what a true coffee man! Farmer, Exporter, Miller, Producer and Roaster / Surfer! Here we cupped quite a few different lots and processes. Personally I find cupping quite challenging when out of the roastery, I get so used to how things taste under controlled environments however it was here we found two coffees which we pretty much bought there and then on the tables.
Montes Urales Natural
San Jose Ataco
Both stunning examples of what El Salvador has to offer and I and all at Round Hill are really keen to see what Rolando and his team will harvest and ship next year.