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A cup of innovation – Jasal coffee mill, El Salvador


With so much innovation and good practice taking place, my visit to the Jasal Coffee Mill in El Salvador was totally deserving of its own post.

On one hand they are experimenting with rare and hybrid varietals of arabica, taking advice from roasters and baristas on trends in flavour profiles and using techniques from elsewhere in the world to improve quality. (African raised beds and Kenyan double washing for example).

On the other hand, most of the sheds in use today were built by the current owner's great grandfather in 1905 and have been lovingly restored over the years. They work with organic principles to improve farm health and are are re-learning traditional El Salvadorian coffee farming techniques and preserving knowledge which is in danger of being lost as older farm workers/ farmers leave the farms.

Given that we love a good restoration project ourselves, taking a look around the mill and seeing these techniques in play first hand, was pretty awesome.

Minimising water use

Jasal is pioneering environmentally sustainable ideas around coffee processing by minimising their water usage.

The first machine in the photos below mechanically removes the mucilage - meaning that they don't have to soak the beans in water to ferment the mucilage off. This massively reduces water use it also allows them to get a cleaner, brighter cup profile - because the coffee is not having to ferment before it's dried. This also helps improve crop yield as the reduced risk of product being over fermented and unsaleable means farmers can sell more of the crop.

The second photo is of the channel system used to get the freshly pulped coffee (pulpers sitting under the hoppers) to the mechanical de-mucilager.

The final pic is one of the original 1905 water tanks which were built at the same time as the original mill house and sheds. Jasal Mill harvests all of their own water - off the patio when it rains!

African raised beds

The guys running Jasal Mill use techniques from across the world to improve the quality and yield of the coffee. Kenyan double washing for example and using African dried beds.

The photos below are of experiments taking place on raised African beds. The first picture is a red honey process experiment. Everything is meticulously documented so that experiments can be easily replicated and scaled up when a successful flavour profile is discovered.

The final pic below is of one of the floatation tanks. These were spotless, using tiles rather than concrete and anti mould grouts which reduces contamination at the first point of contact.

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