Near Santiago de Maria in southeastern El Salvador, high in the mountains of Cerro El Tigre, lies the Las Mercedes family of farms. Finca Las Mercedes has been passed down through through five generations of the Ortiz family. Through their 125-year history, they have obtained a reputation as one of the elite coffee producers in El Salvador.
In 2006 Finca Las Mercedes won First Place in the El Salvador - Cup of Excellence, Lucia de Ortiz, who manages marketing and relationships for the farm, placed a call to Jeff Taylor, owner of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, and they began a partnership that has lasted since that initial call in 2006. Approaching 15 years as buyers of this outstanding farms coffee, we are always excited by the innovation each year as we explore the diversity of varietals and processing with Lucia and her team.
Mr. Adrian Ortiz, a Spanish immigrant married Miss Mercedes Rivera and settled down in Santiago de Maria, in the Usulután department of El Salvador. They started growing coffee in Las Mercedes the year of 1886. Mr. Adrian passed away in 1898 and until 1941 the farm was managed by Mrs. Mercedes Rivera de Ortiz.
In 1941, Mrs. Mercedes passed away, and the farm was handed over to Mr. Adrian Ortiz Jr. until his death in 1976. Then it was passed to Mr. Roberto Ortiz and Family, who run the farm to this day.
The farm has been owned through five generations of the Ortiz Family and has had many ups and downs, especially during the civil war of the 1980´s, a time during which this region suffered greatly.
The Ortiz family managed to preserve the farm in a healthy state. Nevertheless, in 2001 an earthquake affected the farm, destroying homes and buildings in the community as well the clay patios and other farm infrastructure.
In the years following the earthquake the wet mill and the water tanks were rebuilt, and a continuing expansion of the infrastructure of the farm was undertaken. A larger water collection tank referred to as "EL BIG" was built, as well as new clay patios and new ceramic tile ditches.
With the growing demand for new processes like naturals and honeys, the farm has built raised drying beds to facilitate a more consistent coffee drying process.
New roads were constructed into the mountainside for easier access to the different parts of the farm. Improving working conditions for the pickers and laborers who manage the farm.
Finca Las Mercedes and the Ortiz family continually give back to their community, having constructed and supplied a local School, Health Clinic, provide food for a nursing home, and support for the local soccer team. The Health Clinic currently serves more than 13 communities that surround Finca Las Mercedes. It is an invaluable part of the farm community and treasured by the neighbors and workers.
Workers at Las Mercedes receive educational talks on first aid, health and conservation of natural resources. These talks are given by experts in each area and directly impact the awareness and consciousness of the workers towards the community where they live and work.
Finca Las Mercedes is also constantly making efforts to preserve natural wild life by taking special care of the disposal of all by-products from the processing mill in order to avoid contamination to the local streams. And in compliance with the Rain Forrest Alliance certification, any chemicals and pesticides are carefully stored and managed by trained personnel, avoiding intoxications and contaminations.
The premium price we pay for the coffee is used by Finca Las Mercedes to provide medical care to its workers, as well as a quarterly reward of food supplies and clothing, as acknowledgement for their hard work and commitment to the farm.