Ep. 799 El Salvador Argentina Pacamara Washed

Yellow plum, caramel, sultana

We have been buying from Finca Argentina since 2008 and have seen a lot of changes and developments at the farm level over that time. Heading into the 2024 season, El Salvador has been hit hard by the wider labour shortage impacting other Central American countries. Labour shortages have been a concern in the coffee industry worldwide for decades, but shortfalls in Central America in recent years have become particularly acute due to large numbers of people from coffee-producing regions migrating to cities and to the United States seeking more job opportunities and higher wages. Luckily, most of the farms we source from in El Salvador are currently managing well but they are having to consider more ways to retain the necessary numbers of staff during harvest season and steps to make working with them more attractive.

Throughout the rest of the growing season at Finca Argentina, individual workers are given a lot of responsibility over pruning and managing trees. On many farms, pruning would be quite regimented (e.g. every other tree gets a skeleton prune in this section) whereas Finca Argentina are leaving these decisions much more up to the knowledge of the staff, deciding on a plant-by-plant basis what kind of pruning is needed when they work through an area. It is easy to ruin coffee production on trees if you don’t make the right pruning choices, so this shows a lot of trust and is only possible when they retain and develop their workers’ skills long term.

The volume of coffee production this year is good, although anomalies in local weather are causing flowering to spread over a longer period. This means more of this year’s crop than usual is likely to be lost to under-developed or dried-out coffee cherries on the trees when harvest season arrives. The main issue affecting plant stock at Finca Argentina this year is Anthracnose, a fungal disease causing die-back of leaves and branch tips. The staff are treating this via pruning and applying fungicide treatments. A new addition to the farm in 2023 was the planting of Mundo Novo trees. This Bourbon x Typica variety has commercial importance in Brazil and other South American countries but is rarely used in Central America. The plants are high-yielding and produce good cup quality despite high susceptibility to leaf rust, pests, and fungus. The first harvest from these trees will be seen in 3 years.

In recent years the overall safety of El Salvador has improved, with reduced gang activity. Mauricio Martinez (Finca Argentina owner) moved to Canada at the start of 2024, where his son Alejandro has been living for a while now. Mauricio is still involved in overseeing the farm remotely, though he relies on his farm manager and the team on site to do a good job and to keep him up to date. His daughter, Beatrix, has not been involved in coffee previously but she’s now working to become involved a little bit to help the family business. Although he’s living in Canada, Mauricio is still visiting El Salvador regularly to check in on things. Processing of the coffee is still done at the Los Ausoles dry mill, who have a very good relationship with Mauricio and have shown good consistency and reliability for us as buyers.

Yellow plum gets drizzled in pale caramel for a well-balanced, fruity but sweet cup. A sprinkle of sultana on the finish balances it all out and brings you back for more.

Farm Information

  • Country: El Salvador
  • District: Ahuachapán
  • Municipality: Ahuachapán
  • Nearest city: Turin
  • Farm: Finca Argentina
  • Producer: Mauricio Martinez
  • Dry mill: Los Ausoles
  • Elevation: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Pacamara
  • Processing method: Washed
  • GPS: 13°56'29.4"N 89°47'04.1"W

Further Information

Tasting notes: Yellow plum, caramel, sultana.
  • Clean cup: (1–8): 6
  • Sweetness: (1–8): 6.5
  • Acidity: (1–8): 6
  • Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
  • Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
  • Aftertaste: (1–8): 6.5
  • Balance: (1–8): 6.5
  • Overall: (1–8): 6.5
  • Correction: (+36): +36
  • Total: (max. 100): 86.5

Roasting Information
Medium-dark - keep the pace steady as you go through first crack, most of the way through the gap and just to the edge of second before finishing the roast, no more.