Nelson Ernesto Flores
FINCA LAS MERCEDES STORY
In the beautiful Caballeros community nestled in La Palma, Chalatenango, surrounded by a dense pine forest and clouds, is Finca Las Mercedes, which is managed by Nelson Ernesto Flores and his wife Ana Elsy Murcia.
For the past 15 years, Nelson has been involved in coffee, first supporting his mother, and now running his farm. 7 years ago, he started focusing on specialty coffees when he and his mother saw that by selling quality coffee, they could be able to improve their incomes. Today, they both sell their total production as specialty coffee to Caravela.
He tells how his main motivation to work in coffee has been his family, and since his mother, Blanca Marina Reyna, a well-known producer in the region, entered this industry. Nelson recalls, “We had a small plot of land, we planted grains, mostly corn and beans – that’s how we started to grow the land years ago. And where Finca Las Mercedes is now, which is my farm, it was a pasture area for grazing cattle, and today it’s a renovated area with trees and coffee. Today, I feel more economically supported thanks to coffee cultivation; this allows me to improve my family’s quality of life and progress.”
On their farm, Nelson and Elsy grow different varieties as follows: 50% Pacamara, 30% Bourbon, and 20% Catuai varieties. Nelson oversees the farm’s agronomic and administrative management, his wife Elsy helps him with processing and drying, and they hire pickers during the harvest peak and for specific activities during the off-season months. To produce quality coffees, Nelson comments, “We start with selective harvesting, only picking cherries at their optimum point of ripeness. Due to the distance and lack of access roads to the farm, the harvested coffee cherries are left resting for approximately 15 hours in a clean bags on the farm, and the next morning the coffee is pulped on the farm. Then the wet parchment coffee with all the mucilage is transferred to clean bags and sacks, to be later transported on horses a few kilometers down the hill, where a pick-up waits for transporting the coffee to the fermentation piles.” Therefore, fermentation occurs in two phases, first in cherry for 15 hours, and after being pulped for 24 hours more. Once this process is completed, this coffee is washed and transferred to raised beds, where 100% of the coffee dries on beds for an average of 15 days (about 2 weeks).