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Sourcing Trips | 24 Jul 23

A Visit to El Salvador: Part Two

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  • Café Pacas:

    Renowned for the discovery of the Pacas variety in 1949, the Pacas family have been in the coffee growing industry for over five generations, fleeing the country during the civil war, and returning in the mid-1990’s to continue the legacy that had been set before them.

    Back with renewed vigor, Alfredo Pacas Diaz also chose to open their own mill, Beneficio Vivagua to consolidate costs and streamline the exporting process. One by one, smaller producers turned towards the mill for support on processing and exporting, often too extensive with low return on investment for smaller producers.

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  • Fast forward to the present day, Café Pacas has put a lot of time into varietal cultivation. Known for the discovery of Pacas and Bernardina, they have recently discovered 2 new unidentified varieties on the farm. In collaboration with botanical institutions in Italy, they are working tirelessly to find the genetic history of these 2 new varieties. Their heirloom garden contains over 15 different varieties from origins such as Colombia and Panama.

    When deciding which farm to visit, we chose to go to La Esperanza as we had purchased a natural Pacamara lot from them the previous year. La Esperanza is split into 18 tablons, all divided by elevation and variety. Tablons #11-18 are batched together while #Tablons 1-10 are separated and fully traceable. The Pacamara lot we bought was from El Cascajal, Tablon #5.

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  • Two problems that Café Pacas and much of the coffee producing industry in El Salvador are facing are political tension and aging out of producers. The average age of producers that Café Pacas works with is 59 years old. With more opportunities overseas, producers are having difficulties finding successors for coffee farming. Another issue is political unrest and opposition. In recent years, the government of El Salvador has been cracking down on crime and gang activity, through mass arrests. Currently under a guilty-until-proven innocent justice system, many coffee workers are being jailed due to association or simple suspicion of gang activity.

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  • Although I only spent 1 day with the Pacas family, my understanding of their operations and producing philosophy grew exponentially. I am forever great for this opportunity.

    Until next time!

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  • “With these varieties, we’ve been able to build on the experience that we have from 5 generations of growing coffee and the intersection between that experience and that curiosity in finding new things. The discipline and the technical prowess allow us to scientifically innovate.” – Alfredo Pacas

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