Posted in Kafevend Blog
Time magazine has recently run an article about the most influential people of the food and drinks world entitled 'Gods of Food', which means that Aida Batlle of El Salvador has just been promoted to the rank of goddess of coffee. Quite a feat when one considers the multitude of folk involved in the industry! Today we consider two questions: who is she and how did she do it?
Aida Batlle is a fifth generation coffee farmer owning four fincas, or farms, in western El Salvador on the slopes of the nation's highest volcano, Santa Ana. As might be expected, the high altitude and rich volcanic soil provide perfect growing conditions for her coffee cherries. While mechanical harvesting brings down both ripe and unripe cherries, Aida and her team hand pick only the ripe coffee cherries, guaranteeing a superior taste experience, perfectly suited to the 'third wave'. Coffee's third wave refers to the move towards single-origin coffee and the significance attached to the provenance of the bean.
Aida spent many of her formative years in Miami, where her family sought shelter during El Salvador's civil war from 1980 to 1992, so she's well versed in north American culture. She took over management of the family farms in 2002 and is equally well versed in coffee production. Her enthusiasm for the task is demonstrated by her daily hands on approach. Her high standing and influence in the coffee industry was first established in 2003 when she decided to enter El Salvador's inaugural Cup of Excellence competition. One of her farms struck gold with first place and she secured almost $40,000 for her coffee at auction. As a result she made useful contacts with coffee buyers in the USA, who she regularly visits so as to maintain an up to the minute feel for what the customer wants. Her inclusion as one of Time's 'Gods of Food' surely demonstrates that all the hard work has paid off.