El Salvador Johny Lemus Valle
|Region||La Montañita, La Palma, Chalatenango|
|Favoured brew Method||Pour over, batch brew, aeropress, Plunger|
|Tastes Likes||Cherry, Vanilla& Nougat|
Chalatenango is not as well-known a region for coffee production as Santa Ana in El Salvador, but Cafe Imports senior green-coffee buyer Piero Cristiani has spent years investing in and developing relationships with the community of smallholder farmers there in order to source some of the best, most dynamic coffees we've tasted. The average farm held by these producers is between 1–3 manzanas in size and most yield fewer than 20 full-size bags of exportable coffee annually. They grow predominantly Bourbon, Pacas, and Pacamara variety coffees, and until the 2010s the producers with whom Cafe Imports partnered with had all been selling their lots on the local market for a low price, without any way to access better buyers.
Piero and his green-buyer's associate, Alberto Reyes, have worked closely with these families for several years in order to build a solid foundation, being sure to bring them higher prices and reward their exceptional quality. Piero purchases from these producers in parchment and has the coffee custom-milled on behalf of Cafe Imports, which takes some of the burden of processing off the farmers. These super-small lots are bagged in smaller increments (35 kilograms) and affectionately called "pequeños," but don't let their size fool you: These are exquisite coffees grown by committed, passionate farmers, many of whom are seeing specialty prices for their lots for the first time in the area's history.
Johny Lemus owns a 3-manzana farm (1 manzana is slightly smaller than a hectare) called San Antonio, where he grows Pacas variety in fertile black soil. (He also grows a bit of Gesha and is working to improve the quality of those cups.) He processes his coffee both as Naturals and as Washed.