Oil Master Millers: José Jesús Marín Pozo

José Jesús Marín Pozo

Oil mill master of the Cooperativa associated Olivarera de Casariche (Seville).

José Jesús Marín Pozo, oil master mill of the Cooperativa Olivarera de Casariche.

José Jesús, better known as “Pepe”, has been in charge of the mill for 20 years. But his link with the associated cooperative of Casariche is more extensive, since he began working in 1988, almost 35 campaigns ago. Throughout this period he has held all the positions in the cooperative, from working in the area of olive reception and cleaning of the mill to becoming master of the mill, a position he currently holds. “A professional who has carried out all the tasks has the privilege of having an integral vision of the entire production process, which allows him to propose solutions that go beyond my specific work,” Pepe points out.

In describing his work as a master, he points out that, although there is an important peak of work during the campaign, after it begins what we call the “quiet” work: cleaning and maintenance of the machinery. “This work is key to have a campaign without scares in the plant and to achieve the highest quality oil,” says Pepe.

Looking back, he is struck by how much things have changed over the years, how technology has been introduced in the mill, facilitating production and allowing higher yields and better quality. This technology has also meant a necessary professionalization of the team in charge of the mill and of the farmers. In this sense, he still remembers how the olives were piled on the ground and left for several days. On the other hand, “now we clean everything with great tenacity so that the fruit arrives in perfect condition and we obtain the highest quality extra virgin olive oil,” says Pepe.

He recalls with a certain nostalgia that when he arrived at the cooperative there were no decanters, since the first ones were installed in 1989, “while I was doing my military service”. There was also no weighing program, so they had to weigh, unload and reweigh the tractors to calculate the difference. Of course, there were also no washing machines, and many other technologies that today are essential to extract the juice from the olives with the highest possible quality. He even recounts how some farmers used to transport the olives in sacks, realizing that “it is impressive the change that has taken place in the cooperative since I started working here”.

“Before, the objective was to obtain the maximum olive oil possible, but nowadays the focus is on quality”, Pepe points out, and he considers that these changes go hand in hand with technology, since technological improvements have improved olive yields and have favored the prioritization of quality over quantity.

Although today we all understand that these changes have been positive and favorable, Pepe tells us that there were many people who were against them at the time. And the fact is that change is always hard. Little by little, with the imposition of Oleoestepa’s internal rules and with generational changes, all these changes were assimilated and accepted, making today’s olive mill possible.

In addition to all these changes, Pepe also talks to us about extra virgin olive oil and affirms that it is essential that the fruit is healthy and clean. Also the cleanliness of all the places where the fruit has to pass through, i.e., the conveyor belt, pipes, mill, etc., and of course, a good adjustment of decants to avoid spoiling the mass.

He also highlights the importance of correctly classifying the oils, because “although all olive oils are extra virgin, we can find more or less quality, and it is very important to have trained personnel to be able to correctly classify the oils, which is why he congratulates the great work of the laboratory and tasting panel that we have at Oleoestepa”.

In the 34 years that Pepe has been with this cooperative, he has had many anecdotes, some accidents such as the overflowing of some oil tank, and other very happy ones, such as the birth of his daughter just the day after the end of the campaign. “It couldn’t have ended better.

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