Santa Ana, El Salvador
Aida Batlle has always been eager to experiment with her coffees, which makes working with her a never-ending and rewarding learning experience for us. She is recognized throughout the coffee world for creating great coffees through her dedication to careful processing, and Finca Kilimanjaro represents this fine attunement to quality. This coffee continues to be the best and most distinct coffee we taste from El Salvador with notes of white grape, vanilla, and citrus.
When we first tasted Finca Kilimanjaro, it was in a blind-tasting for the preparation of the 2003 Cup of Excellence auction. One coffee in particular stood out to our buyer at the time. This coffee was curiously different—it had the deep, fruit tones and acidity of a Kenyan coffee, but the sweet buttery caramel notes that typify Salvadoran coffees. It was a sort of African-Latin hybrid taste, both unusual and delicious.
It turns out that legend had it that Kenyan varieties were planted at Finca Kilimanjaro sometime in the 1940s–1950s as an experiment. This would explain the curious cupping flavors during our Cup of Excellence experience. When we first learned about these varieties being planted on Aida’s farm, it was an exciting prospect because we had never even heard of a farm in Latin America that grew any of the Kenyan varieties. At that time, the conventional wisdom was that the microclimate and soil were more important to coffee flavor than variety, so we were shocked that we could actually taste the "Kenya-ness" of the coffee variety.
In 2018, with World Coffee Research recently introducing its coffee variety genetic testing service, Counter Culture Coffee sent a few coffee seeds from Kilimanjaro to be genetically tested. The results matched the reference for Bourbon variety—which is widely planted in El Salvador and also on Aida’s farms. However, Aida also sent some other coffee leaves to WCR and the results came back as SL-28 and SL-34! This confirmed the legend of the Kenya varieties, after all.
The traditionally different profile of Kenya SL varieties as represented in this coffee—think citrus-like acidity, a juicy body, and vibrant all around—is partly due to Aida’s meticulous processing. This particular lot underwent 18 hours of dry fermentation, followed by a six hour clean water soak, and was then dried on raised beds. Complemented with your iconic Latin American profile of milk chocolate, sweet caramel, and soft stone fruit, Kilimanjaro to this day definitely holds its own on the cupping table, even directly next to our Kenyan offerings which tend to overpower Latin American offerings. This year’s lot boasts flavors of white grape, vanilla, and citrus.
(FEEN-kah killi-man-JAR-o or FEEN-kah keelee-man-HAR-o in Spanish)
Aida's father, who loved mountains and Africa, named many of the coffee farms their family own and manage. Finca Kilimanjaro is an ode to the famous Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Santa Ana, El Salvador
Finca Kilimanjaro is situated on Ilamatepec, also known as the Santa Ana Volcano. The town of Santa Ana is at the base and 650 meters above sea level, but Ilamatepec climbs to over 2,300 meters.
Aida Batlle began managing family farms Finca Kilimanjaro, Los Alpes, and Mauritania in 2003. Counter Culture has been working with her since that time and have been alongside her for the ride ever since. She is recognized throughout the coffee world for creating great coffees through her dedication to careful processing, and her coffee is sought after by roasters all over the world. Aida is ever-present and always smiling at WCE/SCA events, traveling to cafes and engaging with the barista community, and speaking at events. Aida's "rock star" status comes not only comes from her coffee's incomparable quality, but also from her die-hard, enthusiastic approach to coffee on every level.