Water management has two important components. One is the protection of the water sources from erosion. The second refers to the use of water during the wet milling process. One of our greatest efforts in environmental protection is the preservation of the basins of the different creeks that cross our estates. To do this we make sure that each basin has sufficient vegetation not only to protect it from erosion, but also to preserve the delicate microenvironment (and its wildlife) that exits within it. In the event of a particularly harsh rainy season, or a prolonged weather phenomenon such as “la Niña”, the consequences of unprotected basins could be catastrophic. Eroded basins lead to uncontrolled flows of water, which could easily deviate from its natural path and permeate the steep hills around it. This can result in massive ground movements, which in turn result in environmental disruption and possibly in human and economic tragedies.
The second component is what we do in order to prevent contaminated water from reaching natural water sources. Water from the wet mill that has been in contact with the cherry or parchment beans( and therefore containes fermented sugars) is filtered in tanks and grounds away from fresh water sources.
Solid Residue Management
The main concern in the management of solid residues on coffee estates is how to dispose of the leftovers of the wet milling process.
The first phase of the wet mill consists on separating the coffee seed from its epicarp and mesocarp, also commonly referred to as the pulp and cherry. These organic leftovers ferment rapidly, and if they are not managed correctly they could easily contaminate water sources.
In our efforts to leave the smallest environmental print possible, we try to recycle most of our “garbage”, and our management of pulp is a perfect example. Once the pulp is separated from the coffee been, we locate it under a transparent plastic roof where it will remain for a couple of days while it starts to decompose. The next step is to transport this semi-decomposed pulp to different parts of the estate where we have our nurseries. There it will finish to discompose during the next 6 to 12 months and become pure organic material, or black dirt. This organic material is used for the coffee nurseries, were the coffee seeds are becoming the small trees that will end up being planted across the estate. What is leftover from this then is dispersed throughout the surrounding coffee fields in order to enrich the soil.
Preservation of Wildlife Habitat
In our estate of San Pascual we only grow coffee under the shade of indigenous trees. By doing this we disturb as little as possible the natural habitat for dozens of different animal species.
In our other estate, Santa Bárbara, we only have a fraction of our production under shade, but we have always been conscious of protecting wildlife habitat. That is why we reserve around 20% of our this estate exclusively for natural vegetation, and as was mentioned before, we take incredible care of the different creek basins.