Situated high in El Salvador’s Apaneca-Ilamatepec Biosphere Reserve, Sicafe, a family-run coffee company, has grown coffee for more than 150 years.
We’re incredibly honored to introduce Sicafe as one of our Sourcing Trip Experience Host Sponsors. In March 2023, a group of carefully selected coffee professionals will spend three days with them, learning more about the coffee they grow and the farms they operate.
We spoke to Rafael Silva, Head of Operations at Sicafe, to learn more about the company and its remarkable achievements.
Six generations of coffee knowledge
In 1870, Fabio Morán and Epifanio Silva started working on the parcel of land that would later become the Silva family’s first coffee farm: La Siberia.
Since then, Rafa explains, six generations’ worth of “long-standing expertise” has been passed down over the years, culminating in the successful company we see today. Sicafe is so successful, in fact, that it has won several Cup of Excellence awards in recent years.
“El Salvador may be a tiny country in a small coffee producing region in Central America, but we excel in terms of quality,” Rafael explains. “I think El Salvador produces top quality coffees that can match those grown in any other country around the world.”
As well as La Siberia, Sicafe also operates two smaller but highly productive estates, San Cayetano and Llano Grande, as well as the La Fany farm.
“At Sicafe, we want to grow more than just coffee – we are producing a legacy,” Rafael says. “We are an extremely hard-working group that strives to produce top quality coffees while keeping the environment in mind by blending chemical and organic practices and products in our farms and mill.”
He adds that in 2017, Sicafe’s mill was recognized as the most eco-friendly in the country. But as well as being used for the coffee grown at the company’s farms, it also supports more than 20 other farmers in the region, too.
“This means that we are able to provide a richness and diversity when it comes to coffee, and meet the requirements of a range of different buyers,” Rafael notes. “We are constantly innovating and working on new processing techniques to be able to offer a wider spectrum of coffees the next time buyers visit us.”
What can STE attendees expect from Sicafe?
Rafa is adamant that STE attendees staying with Sicafe will first and foremost learn about the sheer diversity of Salvadoran coffee. As well as growing iconic varieties such as Pacamara, Sicafe offers plenty of others, including Geisha, Catimor, and various types of Bourbon.
“We will be visiting farms in Apaneca and in Santa Ana,” he explains. “Roasters and importers will be able to learn the challenges of each area and the benefits for the quality of each, as well.”
In his opinion, traveling to coffee farms is incredibly important, as it means buyers can interact with the people they buy their coffee from and witness first-hand how sustainable coffee can empower entire communities.
“Coming into the country is the only way that you will be able to see and completely understand this and truly admire the impact you make on each person,” he adds. “There are still thousands of producers still struggling through all the adversities to be able to share El Salvador’s coffee with the world.”
Having attended the first PRF event in 2016 – which was also hosted in El Salvador – Rafa says he’s looking forward to the wealth of knowledge that will be shared across both the STE and the two-day forum.
“As an STE Host, we are thrilled to be able to share part of who we are and what we do with clients that will be joining us,” he says.
The Sourcing Trip Experience is meticulously curated to ensure that roasters from around the world are paired with leading Salvadoran specialty coffee producers.
Over the course of the experience, roasters will get the opportunity to speak with producers at length about Salvadoran coffee production, tour their farms and mills, and sample a range of different coffees.
Some example activities that you can expect during the STE include:
- Farm tours, which will cover a range of different varieties and producer profiles
- Tours of wet and dry mills, where participants will see optical sorting machinery, depulpers, fermentation tanks, and other key equipment in operation
- Cupping sessions arranged directly with producers
- Roundtable discussions on industry challenges from both producer and roaster perspectives
- Networking opportunities with potential sourcing partners and roasters from around the world
- Organized dinners with local specialities/dishes