It’s not everyday that a superstar of a coffee comes along, but La Divina fits that description perfectly. We’re excited to announce the return of this coffee, which garnered rave reviews in the short time that it stocked our shelves. With a blend of anaerobic pacamara and red bourbon, this coffee is a burst of citrus, fruity flavour. It has a rounded acidity with notes of hard candy, red cherry, and green apple.
Not only is this coffee bursting with unique, delicious flavour, but it comes with an incredible story. It was no small feat for producer Roberto Ulloa, who took an uninhabitable piece of land and turned it into the thriving farm that it is today. Now, La Divina produces some of the world’s best coffee, winning multiple Cup Of Excellence awards.
Join us as we take a deeper look at one of our favourite coffees of all time. We’ll articulate exactly what makes it special, from the piece of land it grows on, to the dedication of producer Roberto Ulloa, to the processing that lends incredible complex flavour.
La Divina Farm is located in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range in El Salvador, northwest of San Salvador. The Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range neighbours three volcanoes: Santa Ana, Cerro Verde, and Izalco.
As a result of the nearby volcanoes, the land has rich volcanic soil. Volcanic soil contains volcanic ash and lava, which is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and more. All of these minerals stimulate plant growth.
The farm overlooks a large crater lake called Lago de Coatepeque.
Producer Roberto Ulloa, a 4th generation coffee producer, purchased the 245-acres farm land in 2007. At the time of purchase, half of the land was inhospitable, and had been neglected for 3 decades. Ulloa saw great potential in the land nonetheless, and was determined to repair it. By slowly introducing agroforestry and biodiversity of plants and animals over the years, he quickly turned it into a thriving coffee farm.
Part of the recipe for La Divina’s delicious coffee is the idyllic microclimate. With an average annual temperature of 20 degrees C, the Apaneca-Ilamatepec region is made for coffee. The microclimate is due to the warm ocean breeze from the pacific ocean hitting the volcanic peaks.
The coffee trees receive perfect shade from the surrounding trees, keeping them cool and protecting them from the sun’s rays. The coffee trees are constantly covered in a mist of water, further aiding to keep them cool.
The Apaneca-Ilamatepec region was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Its biodiversity of different plant species and a wide array of birds and other animals makes it a diverse biosphere teeming with life. La Divina farm is a crucial habitat for migratory birds and a vast array of flora and fauna. This farm is home to armadillos, toucans, agouti, orioles, herons, hares, owls, and more.
The coffee trees grow in a rich forest high up in the mountains where it’s cool, at an elevation of 1500 metres. This allows shade-loving coffee trees to grow and mature slowly, developing a complex, rich flavour profile.
Biodiversity has been proven to improve coffee plants. Birds act as natural pest control, eating coffee berry borers that would otherwise destroy healthy coffee plants.
Producer Ulloa works with 4 different coffee varietals on his farm: Pacamara, SL-28, Bourbon, and Gesha. Let’s take a look at these two varietals.
Pacamara is known for large beans and excellent cupping quality, with a juicy, citrus acidity, and notes of raspberry, chocolate, and cinnamon. It’s a cross between the Pacas and Maragogype coffee varietals.
The Bourbon varietal originated on the island of Bourbon, off the coast of Madagascar. It’s known for having a mellow, sweet flavour profile.
Once the coffee beans are hand-picked, the magic happens: processing. Processing refers to the method of which the coffee beans are extracted from the cherries. The cherry itself provides a lot of flavour and sweetness to the bean, and depending on how much of the cherry is left on the bean during fermentation, the flavour can vary drastically.
Processes vary all the way from washed (where the whole cherry is removed before drying) to natural (where the whole cherry is dried on the bean intact before the bean is extracted).
The beans undergo the anaerobic-natural process, which is essentially two processes in one. Ulloa even has a micro-mill on the farm to control the flavour of the coffee, and to preserve the flavour of the beans.
Let’s look at the anaerobic and natural process in detail.
First, the beans are processed using the anaerobic fermentation method. Anaerobic simply means “without oxygen.” The beans are placed in sealed barrels, deprived of oxygen for 72 hours. The resulting fermentation gives the coffee a deliciously funky flavour reminiscent of tropical fruit and spices.
After the anaerobic fermentation, the beans undergo the natural fermentation process. This is where the fermented cherries are left to dry on raised beds in the sun, and the cherries are left intact. This imparts a sweet, fruity profile on the bean. Once the cherries are dried, the beans are extracted from the coffee beans.
At La Divina farm, there are 10-15 people employed year-round to tend to the coffee plants.
La Divina gets one harvest per year, like most coffee farms. Harvest season sees an additional 40-60 workers. This season is busy, and the farm needs all hands on deck. The work includes picking the ripest beans, processing, drying, and packing the green beans.
This process is predictable, and the farm provides a steady income for the immediate community and the greater community.
In a world where coffee is commoditized and producers get low pay for their coffees, La Divina is a much different system that benefits everyone: the producers, the environment, and specialty coffee drinkers.
A true specialty coffee experience
At Firebat Coffee, we believe that a cup of coffee isn’t just a cup of coffee on its own. The whole story of the coffee is important, from the biodiversity of the land, to the wellbeing of the producers, to the incredible flavour notes we get to taste after roasting.
This is one of the most exciting coffees to come through Firebat Coffee, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Intrigued? Shop La Divina coffee now!