Having spent most of 2020 locked down without the usual calendar of coffee events to go to, it was a total pleasure to receive a lovely email from our friend Tom Flawith (Head of Coffee for Square Mile) in March 2021.
Like us, he had been provided with ample opportunity to reflect on his years in the industry to date and ponder how we collectively can start to make the differences required to safeguard the future of coffee. He reached out to express how much he enjoyed reading about our partnership with Maria Zoila Piñeda and Caravela Coffee, and the resulting project we have co-funded, designed to bring about greater resilience to climate change in the years to come.
Maria is part of the Chelazos group of producers in the town of La Palma, Chalatenango in the north of El Salvador. We have worked with this group since 2017 and identified the need for this project following a secondary trip we made in 2019 to gauge how we could support our purchases further. You can read more detail about all of this but in short, this trip highlighted the need for better infrastructure on Finca Margarita, (Maria’s farm) that would enable her to access more income for her coffee and further improve quality to safeguard herself from potential losses in yield brought about by climate-change related pests and disease. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, we are so delighted that phase 1 (installation of 6 covered raised drying beds) has been completed with phase 2 (de-pulper and tanks) planned to commence this month.
Tom and I had a good old catch-up about all of this and a pretty lengthy discussion about how specialty coffee roasteries (which tend to be more small-scale than larger commercial coffee companies) could harness their collective desire to bring about change and consider working more collaboratively when sourcing coffee. We talked about so many interesting possibilities but the immediate action point for Tom was to try and get hold of a lot of coffee from one of the other Chelazos producers to commence what will hopefully be a similar relationship in the years to come.
With the help of our mutual import partners Caravela, Square Mile have managed to secure a lot from Roberto Landeverde and his farm Finca Los Pinos which sits just over 1km away from Finca Margarita. In an effort to build awareness for the importance of these sorts of initiatives, Tom and I decided to release these lots as a collaborative pack where our customers can taste the very best of coffees from this region. In doing so, learning more about the work we have done here – the monumental benefits of which we are only just starting to fully grasp.
We are therefore delighted to make available 150 of these special edition packs which are now ready for pre-order.The coffees featured (Finca Margarita and Finca Los Pinos) are both beautifully balanced and versatile, working so well both through your espresso machine and on various filter brew methods. They will take well to milk should you want to add some but also have loads of sweetness and character when served without. Maria’s lot delivers notes of cherry and orange with hints of marzipan, while Roberto’s lot is hitting you with notes of orange, pistachio and syrup.
The artwork that features on the label has been painted by Maria herself who totally surprised us with a beautiful canvas she sent as a thank you (it’s safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the Roastery that day!). The region of La Palma is well known locally for bright and colourful murals which cover roadside buildings and Maria’s work takes inspiration from this whilst capturing the beauty of coffee farms.
We hope you enjoy getting to know Maria and Roberto and participating in the magic of collaborative coffee! Our thanks go to the team at Caravela who have not only introduced us to this wonderful region and group of producers but have also helped facilitate a long term partnership with one of our most valued coffee supply chains. We have had so much fun working alongside the fantastic Square Mile team, it is amazing what happens when people can come together over coffee! We hope there are many more occasions to do so in the future!