It was truly an incredible weekend in Portland for everyone at Cuatro M. For the first couple of days, production & media managers, Diego and Michael, were able to tour some of the most prominent roasters, importers, and cafes in the Portland area, and meet with the very folks making all the magic happen, within those city limits.
The conversations that took place between us and the roasters were informative, but truly transformational, in regard to where we, as younger members of the specialty coffee community, can see the industry going.
Specifically, laying the foundation for work with Heart Coffee Roasters, opened our eyes to what a roaster is looking for in a producer; and in return, sharing what a producer is hoping for in the roaster he is exporting his coffee to. Being our first year working together, the conversation was eye opening to the full potential of ‘relationship coffee,‘ where roasters and producers, relate to one another what is most needed on each end of production; which in the end, truly produces the highest quality of coffee.
While enjoying great times with the roasters and baristas of Topeca Coffee, Tulsa; visits were made to Water Avenue Coffee, Sustainable Harvest Importers, Coava, The Red E Cafe, and others; some clients, some hopefuls. Our main objective, simply to observe what is happening on the roasting/cafe side of things, and taking in how each origin is being represented in the cup and from the company itself.
Within the visit to Sustainable Harvest, we were able to experience different coffees out of Columbia’s Finca La Esperanza, and witness the early stages of SH’s ‘Experimentos en Cafe,’ a lecture and workshop series featured in Portland, showcasing experimentation and production out of multiple farms across the world. On the table were varietals such as Geisha, Yellow & Red Bourbon, Pacamara, and one other naturally de-caffeinated coffee; each showing extremely different and fantastic quality on the table; which as producers, is inspiring and motivating to continually progress at the quality end of production.
Moving into the conference side of the trip, Diego and Michael were both able to volunteer for the SCAA and Roaster’s Guild, participating in the set up for the convention & expo, Coffee of the Year event, cupping classes, and lectures in spanish research and sustainability; and through each, were exposed to new faces and figures within the industry, providing some incredible opportunities for future endeavors, events, and partnerships. On top of that, visiting all of the booths, origin coffee stands, and U.S. Barista Championship, was exciting to see the multiple facets of the industry, brought together in one arena.
As the weekend winded down, our stay was overlapped by Emilio, who continued on the trail, visiting with each of those same cafes, and others, as well as attending his first meeting for the Executive Counsel of the Roaster’s Guild.
As we arrive back to El Salvador, we quickly jump back into events and projects happening here. On the production end, work has shifted entirely to export; the hulling, bagging, and loading of green coffee, which excites us to see and hear about coffees arriving in the United States, Australia, and other specialty locations; and witness the manner in which those roasters and cafes are featuring El Manzano, Ayutepeque, and other farms processed and exported by Cuatro M.
On the farming side of production; work of all kinds is being done within the plantation and nurseries, to prepare for the next and future harvests at the two plantations, operated under the supervision of Cuatro M. Pruning, fertilization, and planting, each have their own steps and methods, and we are excited to continue documenting the results of each step along the way.
The nurseries are also at full sprout, with seedlings of multiple varieties of coffee taking root, and sprouting up from their poly-bag beds of soil; to reveal the parchment bean, and then break from the bean to form two initial leaves, soon becoming a tree, that will be planted within the plantations.
This summer (Salvadoran winter) nearly 20,000 new trees will be planted across both plantations, making for a very exciting year at the plantation level of production. These events will likely take place late June to early July; so in the mean time, we work avidly to take notes on pruning and selection of healthy shoots for the existing trees; continually developing better and more sustainable farming practices; as well as developing new ideas for experimentation within the coming harvest.