Coffee Category: Balanced
Process: Semi Washed & Sun Dried On Patios
What to expect
This coffee from El Retiro is a varietal from the arabica family called Pacamara. They are unique for how big the coffee beans are but also for how resistant they are to disease while also producing large yields. Expect lots of chocolate notes from this coffee and a very mild acidity.
Producer: Pacas Family
Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range
Altitude: 1,300 - 1,470m
Farm size: 19 hectares
Finca El Retiro was founded in 1927 by Fernando Alberto Pacas Figueroa. The farm has since passed down four generations and is now owned and managed by Alfredo Pacas and his family: it is one of several small estates that the family oversees in this privileged location high in El Salvador’s rich Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range.
Alfredo has passed his heritage and a love for coffee farming to his children – Alfredo and Maria – who bring new energy and a modern approach to coffee production. They have a clear vision for the specialty coffee sector in El Salvador, specifically on their own farms. Alfredo and Maria are continuously pushing boundaries to improve quality; mixing traditional best practice (like using the agobio method of pruning, planting varietals and implementing careful soil and shade management) with cutting edge quality control systems and techniques. Management and record keeping techniques from harvest to harvest are notably important for their stringency and scientific approach.
El Retiro’s Pacamara trees cover around 20% of the farm’s total hectarage. Other varieties include Bourbon and very small sections of the ‘mysterious’ Bernadina Variety, which was discovered and cultivated by the family on their Finca Los Bellotos and has since been planted on several other Pacas Family farms. All these varieties grow under a protective canopy of shade, made up of indigenous tree varieties such as the leguminous balsam and ingas. Both 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.
The coffee 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.
The farm employs 24 permanent workers and provides seasonal work for a further 105 temporary workers at the peak of the harvest. Free medical care is offered to all the farm’s employees.
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 benefited 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.
El Retiro was a finalist at the Cup of Excellence in 2006.The farm is certified under ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9001-2000, which helps to ensure traceability and further improve quality.
Our espresso recipe using 20g basket
20.5g in / 42g out
in 27 to 32 seconds