“A Few Questions With…” is a series featuring some of Ally’s partners across the globe. Our goal is to get to know the people who make coffee happen a little better, to talk about their work, and to look forward toward their vision of where coffee is headed. We’re thankful for these relationships that we get to be a part of, and excited to have the opportunity to let these folks tell you about themselves in their own words.
The following responses have been edited for clarity.
Andres Acosta is a sixth generation coffee producer operating Finca Santa Matilde (also know as Finca Atzumpa) and Finca Nazareth in Concepción de Ataco in the department of Ahuachapan in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range and coffee region of the same name. His coffee career began in 2012, but his family’s history in coffee production in the region stretches back to 1875. Today, Andres carries on the legacy of bringing sustainability, social responsibility, and employment to the communities around the farms, while looking ahead toward the future of coffee production with a fresh dedication to prioritizing quality first and foremost in his operation. We began working with Andres and his family in 2019, and are proud to continue our partnership with them to share their work with people around the world.
Andres Acosta at Finca Santa Matilde
Ally: Where does your farm name come from?
Andres: Santa Matilde comes after my great grandmother who was named Matilde Ariz, her father Manuel Ariz owned all of our family farms. This specific farm that we inherited was her favorite of them all and so it was named after her, “Saint Matilde”.
AC: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
AA: I love riding my vintage ATV motorcycles at the farm or at the beach, I love going to the beach to chill and fish. I like spending time with my friends to have a couple of glasses of wine or single malt.
AC: What’s your favorite meal to have with coffee?
AA: My favorite meal with coffee is breakfast. I love sipping and smelling a freshly brewed cup in the morning, it's energizing and motivating to start the day.
Red coffee cherries at Finca Santa Matilde
AC: What does coffee mean to you?
AA: For me coffee is life. I'm currently the sixth generation of a coffee producing family and it's a tradition to be involved in the coffee world. I’ve loved going to the farms and mills since I was a little kid, and being involved in all the components of the coffee industry is beautiful because you impact the economy, environment, communities locally and domestically, and you learn each day from every aspect there is. It feels wonderful to keep growing and improving in the business due to the changes you see throughout time.
AC: How has your work changed as a result of your relationship with importers and roasters?
AA: It has improved and is more challenging and awesome since there’s a more personal relationship and connection with them. I feel a greater responsibility to keep evolving and improving the quality of our coffees because now you see your farm’s name, legacy, and reputation on the line and theirs as well.
It is important to have constant communication with [importers and roasters] in order for us to keep satisfying our clients' needs depending on their market demands and trends so we can become better with their recommendations and they can offer better quality to their customers' demands each year.
Andres in his family mill's warehouse
AC: What has changed in your perspective as a coffee grower over the past five or ten years?
AA: My perspective has changed from wanting to produce more coffee to start focusing on producing quality coffee with new varieties and processes that can help us achieve my goal: offering high quality premium coffees to my partners. Also, building great lasting relationships with coffee buyers that care about the producers and communities around us such as Ally.
The challenge is that there’s a lot of factors that changed my mind to focus on quality [rather] than quantity. It is getting harder to produce coffee in El Salvador due to climate change (harder to control diseases such as leaf rust), the cost of agricultural supplies (fertilizers), lack of local hand labor to work at the farms (due to migration), zero incentives from the government, non-viable lines of credit, and the cost of producing is going up. All those factors have changed my perspective to focus on quality in order to survive in the industry with price differentiation as a reward of the hard work we put in creating good coffees.
AC: What is one message you’d like to share with the coffee community?
AA: The message is to invite every producer to keep grinding, keep fighting and innovating from experimenting with new varieties and processes.
For the buyers, importers, and roasters, thank you for the support and believing in producers who are still working on sustainable specialty coffee production so [that] we can still have great coffees around the world and we can maintain the tradition for more generations.
Andres Acosta giving a thumbs up with a coffee tree
AC: What do you hope to see for the future of your farm?
AA: I hope that my farm continues to produce high quality specialty coffees so we can continue our family tradition and have more personal relationships with our partners through generations.
AC: What do you hope to see for the future of coffee more broadly?
AA: I really hope that coffee can become a more attractive industry to everyone abroad, so they can start to appreciate the traceability and hard work there is in the origin of a cup of coffee and they can connect more with the producers and hands behind it.