We’re excited to share our next Sourcing Trip Experience (STE) host sponsor: Mapache Coffee. Owned and managed by Jan-Carlo and Sofia Handtke, the company operates six farms in El Salvador’s Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountains, striving to maintain the balance between shade-grown coffee trees and the canopy that shelters them.

The STE is designed to bring roasters from around the world to meet some of El Salvador’s best coffee producers. The aim is that these experiences can serve as the basis for a long-term sourcing relationship.

Taking place before PRF El Salvador, the STE will run from March 12 to March 15, 2023, after which attendees will make their way to the Salamanca Exhibition Center in San Salvador for the two-day Producer & Roaster Forum.

Read on to learn more about Mapache Coffee.

Stewards of the Salvadoran forests

For five generations, Mapache Coffee has been producing some of El Salvador’s finest shade-grown coffees. Today, the company is committed to caring for the forests around its farms, implementing sustainable practices that span production and processing.

“The quality of coffee we offer is exceptional, comprising more than a dozen varieties from six different farms processed in different styles,” Sofia explains. “El Salvador is a unique coffee producing country, where you can go from mountain to beach and vice versa in half a day.”

All six of its farms incorporate shade trees, which gives Mapache ideal growing environments for iconic Salvadoran coffee varieties like Pacamara and Pacas. Other varieties grown here include Bourbon and Ahuachapán.

Jan-Carlo and Sofia employ at least 150 local people year-round. This number spikes to more than 700 during the harvest season, many of whom work at Mapache’s modern wet mill at Beneficio El Recreo.

Like all other aspects of Mapache’s operations, its wet mill is designed to produce as little waste as possible and is symbolic of the company’s relationship with the environment around it. At the mill, wastewater is recycled and used multiple times, while the leftover cherry pulp is used to produce the compost that feeds the soil on its farms.

What can STE attendees expect from Mapache Coffee?

Jan-Carlo and Sofia intend to show their guests how specialty coffee production is carried out in harmony with the environment in El Salvador. Visitors will witness first-hand the level of care that goes into their coffee production.

Some of its farms are incredibly remote, like El Batallón, which is located at the end of a number of narrow high-altitude roads. 

Elsewhere, Finca El Naranjito and Casa de Zinc lie some 1,300m (4,265ft) above sea level, just a stone’s throw from El Imposible National Park.

“We intend for it to be an enriching experience of knowledge on both ends,” says Sofia. “We want to be able to show roasters and importers our operation and build long lasting partnerships.”

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

“We think the coffee industry is made up of great people, from growers, importers, roasters, to consumers, and everyone in between,” Sofia concludes. “Being able to spend time and share ideas and information is what builds better relationships that eventually translate into growth for the specialty coffee industry.”

If you’re interested in attending the Sourcing Trip Experience, book your experience here or email the STE Coordinator at tati@producerroasterforum.com. 

Mapache Coffee: Growing coffee sustainably in the Salvadoran mountains