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El Salvador - Finca La Ilusión: Washed, Bourbon.

Undoubtedly one of our favourite coffees at 3fe, we have enjoyed Ernesto Menendez's coffee since we opened in late in 2009. We have used his coffees at both National and World Barista Championship level and to our mind it's one of the finest examples of what El Salvador has to offer.


Finca La Ilusión is located in North-west Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range in El Salvador. The trees on the farm are 19 years old; these are mostly Red Bourbon (70%), as well as 25% Orange Bourbon, and the remaining 5% is made up of mixed varieties, including Typica and Kenya. The coffee you're drinking is made from the separated Bourbon trees.


The farm runs alongside one of the most important National Parks in El Salvador, known as Los Andes, which is nestled on the Santa Ana volcano. The farm is bordered by dense Pine and Cypress forest, providing wind shelter for the farm and a unique microclimate that is ideal for producing great coffee. It is also part of a natural fauna corridor, crucial for migratory and native birds. As such, running the farm in an environmentally friendly way and maintaining the balance within the ecosystem is extremely important to Neto.


Neto's main focus is to improve both the harvesting process at La Ilusión and the wet milling, done at the nearby San Carlos farm. This involves strict quality control records, and Neto supervises each step in the process personally. Training is given to the workers in picking perfectly ripe cherries, as well as extra sorting after harvest avoid any unripe cherries getting into the cup. 


After harvesting, they transport the cherries to Finca San Carlos to depulp them immediately. They are then fermented for up to 16 hours, washed with clean and fresh water to remove the mucilage, then sun-dried on patios for around 14 days until the optimum moisture level of 12% is reached. The coffee is then stored in a controlled environment at the San Carlos warehouse. It's the attention to detail throughout this process that really makes this coffee a cut above the rest.


  1. Country: El Salvador
  2. Owner: Ernesto Menendez
  3. Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range
  4. Altitude: 1,750–1,850 m.a.s.l
  5. Variety: Bourbon
  6. Process: Washed