Farm: Finca La Providencia (Pacas)
Varietal: 100% Pacamara
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1,150 to 1,480 metres above sea level
Owner: Exportadora Pacas Martinez S.A. de C.V
Town / City: Canton las Cruces
Region: Santa Ana
La Providencia (Pacas) - El Salvador
Although the Pacas family has farmed coffee in El Salvador for more than 150 years, Finca La Providencia is a relatively new addition. The 66+ hectare farm was acquired by the family in 2009, and it was especially chosen due to its location, which is protected from the wind. This is a rare quality in the hills around Santa Ana, where most farms have to plant tall trees in a grid-like pattern to act as wind breaks!
The predominant variety on the farm is Bourbon, but the Pacas are ever experimental, and they have planted small plots of Pacamara. The coffee trees are all grown beneath shade, which contributes to a slower maturation of the cherry, improving its development. The total number of shade trees on the farm is an impressive 7,566, which also contributes to biodiversity and conservation of the species. In addition to the coffee plantation there is 14 hectares of natural forest, which is conserved in its natural state and is a haven for wildlife.
The farm’s manager, Carlos Miguel Mendoza has worked on the farm for a long time, predating the sale to the Pacas. Along with his wife, Yanira Mendoza, they have managed to form a highly efficient and focused team to achieve a coffee of good quality.
The farm has been replanted some areas, as many of the trees were not in a very good condition when the farm was purchased. This replanting was done in 2010 using Bourbon variety seedlings. Soil fertility is maintained using organic matter so as to provide all the nutrients necessary for healthy growth. Soil and foliage are analyzed before deciding how to apply fertilisers every year. Normally, fertilisation is undertaken four times during the year and the foliage 3 times during the year.
Shade trees are pruned in April so that coffee plants will get 70% sunlight during the fruit´s growth period and 30% during the ripening period. This allows the coffee cherries to receive enough sunlight when they are growing and enough shade during the ripening process, allowing the coffee beans to slowly develop favourable characteristics.
The soil conservation practices around the farm include the planting of izote plants to prevent erosion plus digging of “fosas”, which are big holes that serve as water traps and help keep moisture in the soil, as well as trapping organic matter. Farm workers also perform “suachado”, where the soil is ‘turned’, allowing more water and oxygen filtration to the root system of the coffee trees.
Bourbon & Pacamara plants are cultivated using the “agobio” method, where branches are bent in order to provoke new growth of productive branches, using the well-developed root system that the plant already has. Agobio helps increase the life span of the plant up to 90 years. In some parts of the farm, the multiple vertical method of cultivation is used. In this method, the branches of the tree that are no longer productive are stumped in order to provoke new growth.
La Providencia provides 65 jobs per month during the harvest period and 36 during the non-harvest period. Maria and her family are determined that for every bag of green exportable coffee that is produced, one person is provided with a job for 15 days. This number includes both the agricultural and industrial processes.