Our work in Monte Sion
Coffee 1652 work directly with the coffee traders of Monte Sion

Coffee 1652 works directly with the coffee traders of the green coffees from the Monte Sion Plantation and have close ties with the plantation’s owners, Dr & Mrs Urrutia. The Urrutia family have worked tirelessly over recent years to ensure the welfare of the people they employ to work with them – helping to build good quality housing, secure fresh water & sanitation, excellent working conditions, fair pay and access to local healthcare.

Dr Urrutia has been closley involved in the development of a local medical centre, to ensure that everyone is able to get medical assistance when they need it, the local children have all received a vaccination programme comparable with our own; children are encouraged to attend the local school that Dr Urrutia was involved in the development of and responsible for locating quality teaching staff. The story is a wonderful one of success - against very difficult odds. In purchasing the award winning coffees, sourced from this plantation co-operative, you, too, are helping to support the wonderful work of Dr Urrutia and his hard working team team in their community.

You are helping to support the lifeline that the plantation has become to many people in the Monte Sion region and your purchases are ensuring that funds continue to flow directly to the source of the need, without the overheads of unseen organisations filtering it on the way.

The secret ingredient of Café Monte Sion.

The 2009 cupping contest held by Rainforest Alliance during the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), positioned the farm Monte Sion as one of the top 10 best certified coffees in the world. In this article we visited the farm to discover the secret ingredient to this Salvadoran coffee. San Salvador, May 13th 2009.- Our vehicle heads up the mountain range that touches the clouds in Atiquizaya, a region of Ahuachapan, El Salvador.

That place is Monte Sión, the certified Rainforest Alliance farm that begins to dress up with white flowers in its coffee trees. The ‘cicadas’ fill the farm with music; these seasonal insects hide up in the native trees that protect the bourbon coffee trees. In this outdoor atmosphere, the owners, Dr. Luis Urrutia and Mrs. Lilliana de Urrutia, are grateful to God and their workers for making it possible that the Rainforest Alliance certified coffee produced in the 52.5 hectares, be catalogued as an excellent quality coffee in the international coffee world. “For us it was a gratifying surprise to learn that we had qualified as one of the Top ten coffees worldwide. We think that God and our workers had much to do in the process and for this achievement”, said Dr. Urrutia during our conversation - just a few steps away from the batch where the award winning coffee came from.

In the search of improving our coffee quality we decided to certify it and take care of the environment.

The process to which Dr Urrutia refers to, is the implementation of the Sustainable Agricultural Norms, which, since 2004, they have been working to on the plantation at Monte Sion. “I understood well the message; the Rainforest Alliance certification helps us maintain a good environment, which is important given that this country is almost arid. We barely have 15% of rainforest, including natural forests and coffee plantations. If we did not have the coffee forest we would be living in a desert.” Another value that Dr Urrutia attributes to the quality of the coffee produced in Monte Sion comes from the principle of protecting the internal forest of the farm, as it is established in the Norm. “In the search of improving our coffee quality we decided to certify it and take care of the environment. The forest is part of such Quality because it makes the coffee more sweet and gives it a better aroma”.

The coffee tree branches, blossoming with flowers, extended through one of the paths. Dr Urrutia stops in his path and points out that they have planted 12 native trees per hectare; these trees offer an adequate shade that will allow the coffee cherry to grow juicy and as big as a grape. “The advantage of the seal is that it gives the guarantee of more shade. This means that our coffee will be sweeter, it will have better aroma, and will be big in size” Dr Urrutia enthused. Mr. Lilliana de Urrutia mentioned that on one occasion they had some visitors, who had come amazed at the size and sweet flavor of Antigua Guatemalan coffee - but as soon as they saw the coffee trees of Monte Sión during their harvest season and they tasted its quality, they did not hesitate in doing business with Monte Sion. "They said that the coffee cherries look like grapes because they are so large.” Good workers conditions influence positively on the quality of our coffee. Before arriving at Monte Sión, we heard childrens voices competing with the singing of the cicaras.

"With the help of our coffee buyers, we have built this pre-school".

This was because, in Monte Sion’s sister farm, Shalom - also certified by Rainforest Alliance - there is a pre-school centre that teaches the workers children of both plantations. “Before the women had to work in the plantation whilst carrying their children, and, as a grandmother, I felt sorry to see those children wandering around there, under the fierce heat of the sun; sometimes even under the rain. So with the help of our coffee buyers, we have built this pre-school” relates Mrs de Urrutia. In this school, around 20 children learn their first letters, to count and to have fun with the toys that the Urrutia´s bring them from San Salvador. While the children happily follow their teachers´ instructions, their parents prepare artisan traps to control the broca in the coffee forest and tend the coffee plants, that they are so dependant on for their continuing life and health.

Reina de Melendez, one of the workers, tells us of her feelings of working on this Rainforest Alliance certified farm. “I have learned to do everything, even how to make traps to stop the broca. I am also very happy because they (The Urrutia´s) take us on recreational trips with my daughter to other places. They are good with us, they love us, and they love our children too,” explains de Melendez, while she is rolling a little bottle that contains alcohol to attract the broca, which is then put inside a recycled plastic bottle. The Urrutia family not only takes care of education and recreation for their workers, as the norm stipulates, they also have a complete program of preventive and nutritional health, as well as spiritual healing and “revival towards the Word of God”, as Mrs Urrutia commented. “At Monte Sion our farm manager, Fredy Ventura, helps us to preach the Gospel to around 42 people, including workers and people from the community. They pray and fast during the week.” Dr Urrutia believes that if their workers are physically and spiritually healthy, this will have a positive impact in the production of specialty coffee. This is the reason they have the motto “help others and God will help you.” “We are committed to our God; because if he gives us so many blessings, why shouldn´t we help our people are share with them those blessings.” The Urrutia´s hand out spiritual books to enrich the teachings and the daily life of their workers.

Fredy Ventura said that in his daily routine they “read the Gospel, pray and ask for protection. This is why we haven´t had any working accidents in spite of the fact that there are delicate tasks such as pruning of trees. We have a working day from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in mutual accordance with the administration.” Sorting and nurturing with the best, both permanent and temporary workers have learned to sort the best quality cherries in each harvest to guarantee the taste, aroma and body that distinguishes Monte Sion coffee. For Dr Urrutia, the award of being in the top 10 places of certified coffee in the world “could not be possible if our workers did not have the desire to do things the best way possible: sorting the coffee, harvesting in full ripeness and processing soon to obtain the best quality - and to take care of those trees with the love they require.” The quality of coffee produced in Monte Sion has also to do with the nourishing of the coffee trees. Fertilizers that are prohibited by the norms of Sustainable Agriculture are not applied in the plantation. Instead they use lombricomposteras, pulp juice and other foliar, as fertilizers that would not contaminate the environment or human health - and which also provide a unique quality to the coffee.

Café Monte Sion is a blessing.

The clouds and cold winds begin to come down the Cachio Mountain Range and, as we look around for one last time during this visit, down in the valley lies a workers house with a solar panel, next door to the natural reserve of 1.4 hectares protected by the green seal of the farm Monte Sion. With this view for a backdrop, Dr. Urrutia concludes “to cultivate coffee with the Rainforest Alliance certification as a guide map, to help our workers feel good and to please God with what we do (in Monte Sion) is what gives our coffee its special flavor. As our slogan says: Café Monte Sion is a blessing.”