Farm: Finca Santa Rosa
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1,857+ metres above sea level
Owner: Pacas Family
Town / City: Canton Potrero Grande Bajo
Region: Santa Ana
Overall: Peanut butter, Genmaicha (Roasted rice tea), macadaemia, toffee
Finca Santa Rosa Red Bourbon FW - El Salvador
This 100% Bourbon lot hails from Finca Santa Rosa, owned by the Pacas family. The Pacas family is one of the oldest and most prominent coffee farming families in El Salvador. They have a stellar reputation not only as producers of coffee but as some of the most socially conscious employers in the country. Mercanta is pleased to offer this quintessential El Salvadoran specialty coffee from one of the founding families of El Salvador specialty coffee.
The Pacas legacy began the 1800s when Jose Rosa Pacas decided to explore the world of coffee. He purchased land high in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range and planted Bourbon trees. During the mid-1900s, his son, Fernando Alberto Pacas Figueroa, picked up the baton, earning for himself a reputation as an unparalleled grower of coffee. He was particularly known for experimenting with farming methods to increase productivity. His most important achievement was discovering a new coffee variety on one of his farms: what we know today as the ‘Pacas’ variety.
Fernando Alberto’s son, Alfredo Pacas Trujillo, continued the tradition, implementing his father’s cultivation techniques and drastically increasing production levels at all the family farms, of which there were several. In the early 1990s, Fernando Alfredo Pacas Diaz (his son) decided to take the family business to the next level by processing and exporting his own coffee. Prior to that, most coffee in El Salvador would be sold in cherry to a mill that would process and export the beans with no traceability at all. Fernando Alfredo’s strategy was to obtain the highest quality coffee from his own farms, preserve traceability and enhance the product through clean, innovative milling practices.
Alfredo has passed this heritage and a love for coffee farming to his children – Alfredo and Maria – who bring an energy and modern approach to coffee production that is passionate and quality-focused. They have a clear vision for the specialty coffee sector in El Salvador: specifically, their own farms. They continuously push the boundaries to improve quality, mixing traditional best practice (like using the agobio method of pruning, implementing careful soil and shade management, & use of older varietals) with cutting edge quality control systems and techniques. Management and record-keeping from harvest to harvest are notable for their stringency and scientific approach.
Finca Santa Rosa was one of the flagship farms for the Pacas family and has now been in the family for five (going on six) generations. As Maria Pacas says, “it is the farm where we have learned to grow coffee and love it.” The farm is situated on the Santa Ana Volcano, a region famous for its coffee. Enormous efforts are made to ensure the highest quality on the farm, and this starts with cultivation practices. The Café Pacas team works hard to perfect fertilisation, shade pruning, coffee planting, etc. in order to provide the plants with the nutrients and conditions that are ideal for their growth and proper development.
The coffee plots at Santa Rosa have been recently renovated, along with the shade trees that provide an ideal microclimate for the coffee. This has been done with the intention of increasing production as well as quality. The family has decided to focus on high-quality varietals such as Pacas, Pacamara and Bourbon. All these varieties grow under a protective canopy of shade, made up of indigenous tree varieties such as the leguminous balsam and Ingas. These trees are chosen for their heavy leaf fall, which provides a rich, natural mulch that both inhibits undergrowth and fertilises the trees. The farm is also home to many different animals including squirrels, armadillos, wild cats and quails.
Coffee from Santa Rosa is hand-picked only when perfectly ripe and is delivered to the Pacas’ family wet mill, Vivagua, on the same day that it is picked. The coffee is then floated, pulped to remove the skin and then left to ferment in tanks for 2 to 3 hours. During this time, around 30% of the mucilage is loosened from the parchment.
Following this brief fermentation, the coffee is rinsed in clean water and then spread on patios to dry in the sun, where it is turned regularly to ensure even drying. When the coffee reaches 11% humidity, it is bagged and then moved to the warehouse, where it is rested until ready to dry mill.
40 people work full-time at Finca Santa Rosa, all of whom have families that depend on the farm to make a living. As a company, Café Pacas are committed to paying workers salaries that are fair and will allow them to meet their needs and those of their families. They also provide them with constant training and good working conditions. Because of this investment in worker welfare, many employees stay at their jobs through to retirement.
In addition to these measures, Café Pacas knows that a company must contribute more widely to society in order to be fully sustainable. Beginning in 2012, they developed a social responsibility strategy in conjunction with two non-profit organisations - FUNPRES and FORJA – which includes a series of social different programs, many of which focus on education.
Furthermore, the family has prioritised violence prevention programs on their farms, including workshops in: Emotional Intelligence, Assertive Communication, Interpersonal Relationships, Resilience, and Teamwork, among others. Psychological help is available for team members and their families to help them cope with specific situations. Twenty people have already directly benefitted from the program at Finca San Joaquin (another family farm) and have gone on to be agents of change in their communities. At the end of the programme, more than 250 people will have been directly impacted by the project.