Finca El Meridiano
Despite the clement weather at Finca El Meridano (located in the Nanegal region of Ecuador, not far from the capital Quito), things have not been entirely smooth sailing. Whilst the coffee market has been reaching the highest prices in a decade, bringing higher financial return for farmer’s output; lingering effects from COVID 19, the global shipping crisis and inflation have significantly offset those returns. Mario has said that the cost of the agricultural inputs (such as fertilizer) has more than tripled over the last year, and is leading him to consider more organic inputs to try and offset the rising cost of production. However, things like organic manure are no easy fix – as the price of feed for livestock has also doubled.
One of the principal (and costly) efforts that goes into producing excellent speciality coffee is that of selective picking, only removing the ripest cherries from the trees and allowing immature cherries to continue to ripen. This requires a skilled and attentive labour force, that is entirely seasonal. In some countries this labour force is relatively plentiful, but farmers in Ecuador can often struggle to attract and crucially maintain consistency in their labour force. Mario says the cost of labour for pickers has gone up, but harder still is to keep someone once they have been trained, even when higher quality work is financially reworded.
Never the less, thanks to the cup of excellence win, his excellent quality and strong partnerships Mario’s farm is still maintaining profitability. However, not all of his neighbours have been as lucky.
Mario described this harvest as his best yet from his 12 years at the helm of Finca El Meridiano. His focus purely on growing one varietal – the Bourbon x Geisha hybrid “Typica Mejorado” to its best expression both of genetics and the terroir of the farm; alongside a singular focus on the washed process has meant that every year he’s taken his quality to new levels, perfecting his craft. The same approach to continual improvement meant the farm ran, in Mario’s words, like “a well-oiled machine”.
The weather ensured that the potential was there; Mario unlocked it and further enhanced it with a major tweak to his processing technique – after picking, the cherries were washed, sorted and dry fermented as whole fruit for 24hrs, followed by his standard washed protocol. This additional pre-fermentation, supercharged with the sugars in the fruit flesh blew us away at the cupping table when we received our first samples of Mario’s harvest – layers of florality, citric acidity and tropical fruits, a truly delicious coffee and one we’re delighted to share.
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Lighter roast complex coffees like this shine on pour over. Start with a recipe of 30g of fresh ground coffee to 500ml of filtered, hot water just off boil (98c). Bloom for 45 seconds, followed by a slow steady pour to a total brew time of 2:30 – 3:00 minutes.