Montecarlos, El Salvador
Montecarlos is a truly spectacular farm; it covers the entire circumference of a long dormant volcano nestled in a chain of volcanic cones, two of which have recently erupted. Near its base are fumaroles spewing sulfuric vapors, heating and turning the surrounding volcanic rock white. On one side is the Pacific Ocean and on the other the Central Plateau bringing warm winds up the northern slopes. Tall slender wind-break trees form walls which criss cross each other into neat squares throughout the farm. Inside the crater is a lush virgin forest surrounding a meadow with a pond below. The volcanic topography creates an ideal microclimate for coffee—with fertile soil coupled with high elevation and shade-grown coffee trees.
Montecarlos Estate is owned and run by Carlos Batres and his wife, Julie. The couple were both educated in the US and have lived in metropolitan areas like D.C. and New York, as well as London, where Batres represented El Salvador at the International Coffee Organization before moving back to El Salvador. The farm has been handed down to family members for five generations, and in the mid-1980s, Batres inherited a slice of the land and has continued to expand it over the years, acquiring more land from neighbors (mostly relatives). He has now accrued at least 40 years working within the coffee industry.
Montecarlos became the first estate in the world to grow and develop the Pacamara variety of coffee. Batres purchased most of the material El Salvador’s National Coffee Laboratory had been working on to cross the Pacas and Maragogype varieties. Between the years of 1987-1990 it was planted and developed at Montecarlos Estate, with the first commercial crop harvested between the years 1992 and 1993. Other varieties that each make up roughly 25% of the land are Catuaí, Caturra, and Bourbon (which we purchase annually).
Pacamara grew popular after being acquired by Starbucks in 2004 and labeled as Montecarlos “Black Apron Exclusive,” and in the same year, was highlighted at the El Salvador Cup of Excellence for its quality. Batres is rightfully proud of being a major player in pioneering Pacamara coffee, and it continues to be a prominent part of the farm’s offerings. He continues to share it with other coffee farmers in El Salvador.
El Salvador has a clear-cut dry season followed by a rainy one (May through October), ideal for evenly ripening coffee, which at the higher elevations occurs in February.
Coffee is only harvested each season when perfectly ripe, which means that it may take several passes before the cherries are plucked to ensure the best flavor in the resulting cup. Once harvested, the cherries are milled and washed three times from the natural mineral water springing from the farm.
The Montecarlos Mill has been in use for five generations, featuring the original architecture that has been in the family since the 1870s. Coffee is 100% sun-dried on clay patios which allow the beans to dry in fifteen days—keeping temperatures cool in the daytime and retaining warmth at night. The channel system of the Mill is also unique in that it uses gravity to carry the beans upon being washed to any of its 60 drying patios.
Beyond coffee, The Montecarlos Estate does much to help its society. The farm employs 250 full-time employees and an additional 250 part-time, paying above minimum wage. The farm also supports a school, church, and the use of roads that make transportation easier between towns.6 The focus of Montecarlos is not single-minded in producing coffee, but also pays close attention to the community at large.
We take pride in roasting our Montecarlos coffee to a level that brings out its inherent nougat, tangerine, and milk chocolate notes. It makes for a deliciously full-bodied, clean cup, and can be brewed a multitude of ways. Whether morning or evening, Montecarlos is an approachable coffee that becomes an instant crowd-pleaser.
February - March 2023
Drip, Immersion, Espresso