Available for shipping from Apr, 2022 to Jun, 2022.
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The coffee story
This varietal was developed by Angel Cabrera, the Father of Pacamara. It was developed Circa 1984 and planted the same year at Finca Las Brisas. By planting the right canopy trees for shade, promoting mycorrhizae in the soil and doing a great job harvesting and processing, this lot is an extraordinary boutique coffee.
Finca Las Brisas, a farm located in the town of Juayua in the middle of the Apaneca Ilamatepec mountain range, is proof of how good farming practices, technology and expertise in post-harvest can change the future of coffee. While most Salvadoran coffee producers have been struggling with climate change, outbreaks of leaf rust and labour shortages (leading many to abandon their farms), Carlos Pola is on the other extreme of this stark reality with a healthy plantation, increasing production and outstanding quality.
A new wave of opportunities
Carlos comes from a family of farmers (he is the 5th generation) but worked in the textile industry for 20 years before becoming fully dedicated to coffee. “The textile industry has been declining in El Salvador because neighbouring countries have a better competitive advantage. I wanted to move away to do something else and, having been involved in coffee my whole life, I could see there were many many opportunities for change,” he recalls.
“Coffee used to be something people would look into and tell you that you should be doing something else. However, the specialty industry brought a new wave of opportunities,” with that mindset, Carlos embraced coffee full time in 2012. Today, he manages Finca Las Brisas and 2 other family farms and is determined to bring coffee farming to the 21st century by investing in technology and sustainability.
A fungi powered farm
Carlos describes his approach to farming as “dramatically new and sustainable”. He doesn’t produce washed lots because the process results in the contamination of water sources. The farmer is also a big believer in the power of Mycorrhizal fungi, a type of fungi that forms a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with the coffee plants. The fungi colonize the plant through their roots and establish a network of structures through which they exchange sugars and nutrients with the tree.
“The plant provides carbohydrates in the form of sugars that it obtains from atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis; fungi in return provide nutrients and water to the plant. Fungi forms filaments (hyphae) that form a network (mycelium) that expands hundreds of times the capacity of the root and breaks down nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible to the plant,” Carlos explains.
According to the farmer, this is a natural process, but it has been replaced by chemical fertilizers for the last 50 years. “I have been doing this all over the farm for 6 years now and it really works! The fungi help restore soil by capturing atmospheric CO2 and water retention keeps trees healthy even in months with no rain,” he says.
When the leaf rust crisis hit Central America in 2012 and 2013, his farms were badly affected as most in the area. Carlos decided to renovate most of the farm with new varieties that are more resistant to the disease. This factor is very significant for El Salvador, where many producers stick to the traditional production of the Bourbon variety due to its good reputation for cup quality.
“In El Salvador, it was inconceivable to plant anything but Bourbon or Pacas. But Bourbon is so complicated to maintain... You end up using a lot of fungicides which is not good for the environment. My thinking was that I had to look into other varieties and become an expert in creating microclimates and in processing methods. You have to be completely professional on the mill, If you do that, you can work with any coffee. After the crisis, I started renovating and spent 6 years at 15% capacity production levels. I had to reinvent myself. So I kept a little Bourbon, and renovated with Pacamaras, Pacas and other hybrids that have been in the farm for more than 30 years.”
21st-century farming and Ferrari red cherries
Other than replanting, Carlos changed the architecture of the farm. “‘Why is it that everyone plants coffee in squares or rows going down the hill?’ I asked myself. I asked others too and no one seemed to know the answer. I decided to plant my new trees in rows following the contours of the farm like they do in Brazil,” he remembers. Carlos is referring to contour farming, a practice that consists of planting trees along a line of the same elevation to conserve rainwater and prevent erosion, a big problem in El Salvador. The plantation looks like a spider web from above, under the tree canopy (Carlos grows trees that help to fix nitrogen in the soil).
Carlos is also innovative in the use of technology. “I developed an app that traces the coffee from farm to cup through QR codes,” Carlos explains. Workers of the farm can access a database through their mobile phones and input information in real-time, tracing batches daily from the moment they enter the mill to the moment coffee arrives at the client. On top of that, Carlos is always experimenting with new processing techniques and recipes to get the best out of his cherries - which he only picks when they are “Ferrari red” - and to bring new flavours to roasters. As he puts it, he is not in the business of “selling fruit”, but experiences.
Once the ordering period ends we will consolidate all coffees in a shared container. During transport, your coffee is fully insured. We will keep you informed about the shipment status.
Upon arrival of the coffee at the warehouse, you can choose between 2 delivery modes:
Doorstep delivery: We will take care of transport to your roastery. We will provide your coffee fully insured until it is ready for unloading from the truck at your roastery.
EXW (ex. warehouse) means that we will provide the coffee ready for pick-up at the terminal of the warehouse. You are responsible for organising transport and insurance from the warehouse to your roastery.
Currently, we can deliver coffee anywhere in Europe, except Hungary. For all European buyers, the coffee will be provided custom cleared in any case. Roasters in Switzerland choosing EXW will be responsible for customs clearance.