Working Toward Energy Independence at a Coffee Wet Mill in El Salvador

Solar panels and wind power are helping this El Salvador coffee mill move to 100% renewable energy

Alejandro Valiente has worn many hats in the coffee industry, and almost every single article or blog post you find online about him (and there are many!) mention his drive to push technological advancement at both the farm level and in the coffee mills he develops in the name of quality improvement.

A coffee farmer floats coffee cherry to remove the under ripe coffee that floats
A coffee farmer pours coffee cherry into a bucket of water to remove the under ripe coffee that floats to the top. Metepán region.

Over the past few years, Alejandro has teamed up with San Francisco’s Four Barrel coffee roasters to build a buying operation in the Metepán highlands of El Salvador, called CafenorSV. Alejandro is no stranger to this region, as it’s where he grew up and currently has coffee farms with his family.

This past year Alejandro undertook a major project to move his entire milling operation to running off of 100% renewable energy. Unfortunately, none of this was plug and play, and Alejandro and his team had to customize much of the equipment needed (solar panels/battery banks/wind turbines, etc) to power their wet and dry mills, cupping lab, coffee warehouse and office area.

photo collage of the solar and wind power equipment used to run this green coffee mill
1. & 5. solar panels line the roof of the mill 2. & 8. battery banks for storing power 3. monitoring temperature and humidity in the drying rooms 4. new raised drying beds 6. cherry in the receiving hopper 7. small wind turbines for generating power, 9. power converter for incoming solar energy

Not only has Alejandro supported the same group of coffee farmers in Metepán during this time, but he’s also spent much of the last three years working with them to increase quality and yields using organic agronomical practices such as permaculture and beneficial fungi.

We bought 5 different lots of coffee from Alejandro this year, all varietal separations of Pacamara and Pacas (under the name “Santa Ana”).

Check out the Pacamara and Pacas from this project HERE

A brief background on El Salvador coffee production, including videos from our origin travel

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