The Fruits of our Labor: Zoka Family Direct Trade from El Salvador

Are you ready? The time has come! Our container of exceptional El Salvador coffees has arrived and they are now ready for your enjoyment. All of the coffees in these El Salvador offerings are part of our Zoka Family Direct Trade Program. By consuming these very special coffees, you become part of these incredible relationships. In this newsletter, I will introduce several of our new coffees. I will also discuss the remarkable community programs in these coffee producing regions, which makes the coffee that much more delicious!

Organic Buena Vista

The Organic Finca Buena Vista is owned by Margarita and Francisco Herrera, a retired couple who now put their efforts back into this small farm of 41 production acres. The high altitude (4250-4500 feet) of this region in conjunction with soils rich in volcanic ash and organic material are ideal for the production of superior bourbon coffee.

Finca Buena Vista is the definition of sustainability. Tucked into the heart of the most extensive watershed in Western El Salvador, this farm is vital habitat to a variety of native tropical plant and animal species. Nine families live and have permanent work on the farm and they are paid at a rate of 60% above the Salvadoran rural minimum wage.

In 2011, the Herrera’s launched a project to build new homes for all nine families. I had the opportunity to visit several of the newly constructed homes and they were incredible. Because the community is without potable water, the Herrera’s recently built a large underground water storage facility that holds approximately 58,750 gallons of collected rainwater.

This water is used for the on-site processing of coffee as well as for community members use for bathing and washing dishes. Additionally, the Herrera’s are reserving funds from their coffee sales to implement an electrification project in the community, as there is currently no source of power. If all of these amazing projects weren’t enough, this coffee truly speaks for itself. A lighter bodied coffee with sweet citrusy notes of key lime and cream, this is one is a home-run baby.


The high elevation farm of El Guaje produces distinct coffee, which the owners call NATAMAYA after their two daughters, Natalia and Mayita. Nena and Hermann Mendez purchased this isolated, abandoned farm ten years ago and we are very impressed at the progress that’s been made in bringing it back to life. NATAMAYA sits high in the mountains of Cerro El Aguila in western El Salvador. This old growth bourbon coffee grows at elevations ranging from 3940 to 5160 feet. The entire farm encompasses 120 acres, 74 of which produce coffee while the remaining acres are home to a dense beautiful forest.

Nena and Hermann’s grown daughter Mayita is also very involved with the farm, and with the help of a grant from the SQ Foundation, organized the construction of a school in the nearby community, Ojo de Agua. She is also currently collaborating with the same foundation to organize a day care facility for farm employees. Additionally, the Mendez family has recently designated an area in the community for a health clinic. Every month, community members of all ages can receive attention and medical care from a visiting doctor, nurse and dentist.


Nena Ortiz Mendez co-owns Finca Talnamica with her three siblings, Freddie, Cecil and Carlos Ortiz. The siblings have strong emotional ties to this farm, as they often visited with their parents when they were children. When their father passed away at age 99, the siblings inherited this farm and it continues to produce quality bourbon coffee. At an elevation of 4,462 feet, Finca Talnamica primarily grows red and yellow bourbon coffee. The coffee from this farm will be used in several of our signature blends.

I spent two years living on Finca Talnamica in the community of Shucutitán, and several of the Oritz siblings are very involved with the community. They donate resources annually that are used for school projects such as recycling and composting programs, educational murals, as well as provide the salary for the computation professor. The siblings also supplied the community with materials to construct a waste management facility, and helped to fund and create a workspace for a women’s cooperative that was initiated in 2009. These women (who are seasonal coffee pickers) learned how to bake artisanal breads, as well as make jewelry and natural shampoos from aloe Vera and chamomile tea. This group of women, who call themselves the Comitè de Mujeres de Shucutitán (Women’s Committee of Shucutitán), have become the first successful female entrepreneurs in this community.

More to come soon,