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El Salvador Metapan Decaf

Decaf Almond Bakers chocolate Red cherry

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  • Country - Colombia
  • Varietal - Castillo, Caturra, Colombia
  • Process - Sugarcane process decaf
  • Altitude- 1700 masl 
  • Roast Level - Medium Dark
  • Body- Creamy
  • Acidity- Apple
  • Sweetness- Sugarcane

Alejandro Valiente’s family has grown coffee in the Metapán region of north-west El Salvador for four generations. When he took control of the wet mill in 2010, he started experimenting with processing techniques, determined to showcase the potential of coffees from this region and to make his mark on the rising specialty scene.

His first ever Pacamara micro-lot, submitted to a pioneering new project organized by the Millennium Fund, immediately gained him attention and plaudits. The standout lot impressed the project coordinators enough to earn Alejandro a visit from Ryan Brown, then the green coffee buyer for Stumptown, who proved to be a great influence on Alejandro’s vision and helped him to explore the untapped potential in the Metapán region.

Alejandro was invited to be involved in agronomy projects in Nicaragua and Guatemala and spent some years sharing his wealth of knowledge there. However, in 2017 he felt the call to return to his roots and apply all that he’d learned to his land and community at home. 

It was on his return to the family farm that the Socios de Cosecha (Harvest Partners) project was born. Alejandro assumed a leadership role within his community, helping local producers to develop improved processing techniques. The infrastructure of the mill was upgraded with the construction of three-tiered drying beds – specially designed to hug the trees and feel part of the landscape. A purpose-built cupping lab – with superb views over the surrounding hills – was established on site so that the local farmers can sample the products of their endeavours.

The project now works directly with 67 producers (with farms of 1-3ha) for 100% traceability on each micro-lot, and a fully solar-powered dry mill has been established on site to save on milling costs and to be fully vertically integrated in the supply chain.

The team has been a pioneer in sustainable practices and it’s inspiring to see how seamlessly their practices work with the environment to produce great coffees – summer 2021 has seen a superb selection of honey and natural processed lots from Socios de Cosecha.


This process was first discovered by a scientist called Kurt Zosel at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in 1967 as he was looking at new ways of separating mixtures of substances. In 1988, a German decaffeination company called CR3 developed this process for decaffeination whereby natural carbon dioxide (which comes from prehistoric underground lakes) is combined with water to create ‘sub-critical’ conditions which creates a highly solvent substance for caffeine in coffee. It is a gentle, natural and organically certified process and the good caffeine selectivity of the carbon dioxide guarantees a high retention level of other coffee components which contribute to taste and aroma.

The process is outlined below:

The green beans enter a ‘pre-treatment’ vessel where they are cleaned and moistened with water before being brought into contact with pressurised liquid carbon dioxide. When the green coffee beans absorb the water, they expand and the pores are opened resulting in the caffeine molecules becoming mobile.

After the water has been added, the beans are then brought into contact with the pressurised liquid carbon dioxide which combines with the water to essentially form sparkling water. The carbon dioxide circulates through the beans and acts like a magnet, drawing out the mobile caffeine molecules.

The sparkling water then enters an evaporator which precipitates the caffeine rich carbon dioxide out of the water. The now caffeine free water is pumped back into the vessel for a new cycle.

This cycle is repeated until the required residual caffeine level is reached. Once this has happened, the circulation of carbon dioxide is stopped and the green beans are discharged into a drier.

The decaffeinated coffee is then gently dried until it reaches its original moisture content, after which it is ready for roasting.

There are several benefits to using this process for decaffeination:

The agent used for extracting the caffeine is entirely natural and the process can be classified as ‘organic’ due to the complete lack of chemicals used throughout. There is also no health risk by consuming coffee that has been decaffeinated in this way.

The way the process works means the other compounds in the green bean are left untouched, meaning decaffeination has no effect on the flavour and aroma of the finished product. The carbon dioxide is very selective and doesn’t extract the carbohydrates and proteins in the green bean which contribute to flavour and smell.

The cell structure of the green bean and the finished roasted bean is unchanged which is of great advantage when working with speciality coffees.

The by-products are 100% natural and recyclable.