Finca la Guachoca | El SalvadorBluebeard Coffee Roasters
Notes: Orange, cinnamon, hazelnut & grape
Producer: La Familia Pacas
Farm Manager: Juan Constante
Region: Municipio de Coatepeque, Santa Ana, Cerro Verde
Process: Washed Red Bourbon
Altitude: 1548 masl
Finca La Guachoca lies at between 1410 to 1600 metres in the foothills of El Salvador’s extinct Cerro Verde volcano, in the fertile Apaneca Ilamatepec mountain range. It is owned and managed by the Pacas family, who have been farming coffee in El Salvador since 1905 and own several small estates in the area. The Pacas family purchased the farm in 2009 and renamed it La Guachoca after the quail-like Guachoca bird that is native to the farm and region.
La Guachoca extends over 31.5 hectares, which are planted out with Red Bourbon varietal trees, as well as a few Pacas varietals. Its soil is very fertile - containing a high proportion of a nutrient-rich red volcanic rock known locally as cascajo. The proof of the soils potential and quality, according to Maria Pacas: "Some coffee plants were buried underneath a land slide, but after a few days, they came out through the red rock looking as happy as if they had been showered with roses!"
The farm’s slopes are interspersed with native shade trees - including Ingas, Jocote de Corona, Avocados, Cirin, Lengua de Vaca, Pimienta de montaña. These are pruned so that the coffee plants get 70% sunlight during the fruit’s growth period and 30% during the ripening period - allowing the coffee beans to slowly develop all their characteristics
The farm’s Bourbon trees are pruned using the "agobio" method. This involves bending one of the tree’s main vertical stems over and tying its end to the ground - this widens the tree without harming it, triggering growth of new productive branches along the bent stem. This method can help to increase the life span of the plant up to 90 years, as well as increasing its yield.
The Pacas family have various soil conservation practices in place on the farm - such as planting native izote plants to prevent erosion, and digging “fosas” - large ditches that trap excess rainwater, helping to retain moisture in the soil and trapping organic matter. The family continues to plant new coffee and shade trees each year, and have introduced endangered native tree species to help protect El Salvador’s biodiversity.
The coffee cherries are handpicked when fully ripe. They are then ‘semi-washed’ - after the coffee is pulped with clean fresh water, it is left to ferment for 12 hours, rinsed and put out to dry on the farm’s brick patios with part of the mucilage still on the bean. When 12° humidity is reached the coffee is then stored at the farm’s parchment warehouse for 30 days, giving the beans an adequate rest before final milling and export. The Pacas family has also invested in an in-house cupping lab, which allows them to monitor the quality of each and every lot they produce.
La Guachoca provides 90 jobs per month during the harvest period and 50 during the non harvest period.