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Finca Santa Rosa Honey

The honey process brings heavy sweet chocolate and date character, lifted by a fresh note of blood orange.

Expect notes of:

Blood Orange


Milk Chocolate

Finca Santa Rosa

This is our second year buying coffee from Jorge Raul Rivera. Jorge Raul is a second generation coffee producer, based just outside the town of La Palma, in the far north-west of El Salvador, close to the border with Honduras. His farm, Finca Santa Rosa, is located not far from La Palma, around 1550 masl, on the slopes of El Pital, El Salvador’s highest point. The farm is planted mainly with the famed Salvadoran varietal Pacamara, and has produced some of the country’s highest quality and most innovative coffees in recent years.

Jorge Raul Rivera Sr. began growing coffee, mainly of low quality, in the region around La Palma in 1979. This was the very beginning of El Salvador’s brutal civil war, so many were abandoning their land, selling cheap and fleeing into neighbouring Honduras. Jorge Raul capitalised on this and bought some plots cheaply and began to grow coffee. He was one of the first to grow coffee in the area, and one of the few that stayed during the war. As El Salvador began to settle again after the war, the Riveras bought the land that would become Finca Santa Rosa, and began to grow timber, due to government subsidies aiming to help the post-war rebuilding effort. However, in 2003, the Cup of Excellence came to El Salvador, and the Riveras saw an opportunity to enter the high quality coffee market, and the conditions at Finca Santa Rosa were perfect. The family knew that if they could produce micro-lots of high enough quality, they could fetch high prices at the Cup of Excellence auctions, making their farm highly profitable. They therefore planted their farm with Pacamara, famed for high quality cups, and set off in pursuit of the Cup of Excellence crown. Years of work have resulted in three wins, in 2014, 2017 and 2019, all with with their honey-processed Pacamara. The pine from the old timber plantations has been retained as shade for the coffee, always reminding us of a Danish pine forest during our visits. This year, as well as the honey lot we have purchased previously, we have also purchased a full natural Pacamara from Jorge Raul, which brings soft orange notes backed up by a deep dried fruit and brown sugar sweetness.


The Pacamara varietal is a proud part of El Salvador’s coffee growing culture. Although the varietal is now grown across South and Central America, it originated in El Salvador, and Salvadorans maintain that the highest quality Pacamaras grow there. It is a cross between 2 varietals, Pacas and Maragogype. The Pacas varietal is a natural mutation of Bourbon, that causes the plant to grow much shorter, so it is easier to pick and can be planted in closer proximity, leading to higher yields per hectare. The varietal is named for the Pacas family, one of the most well known producers of coffee in El Salvador. They have been growing coffee since the 1920’s, and now have a fully integrated coffee business, from farms, a coffee mill, roastery, to cafes and barista training centres. In fact, both their coffees and baristas have been involved in many recent El Salvador Barista Championship wins. The variety was discovered on their farm San Rafael in 1956, and as well as higher yields, was also resistant to many diseases and climate conditions. The Salvadoran Coffee Institute was at the time very interested in the Maragogype varietal, which was producing very high quality cups across El Salvador, but was very susceptible to disease and climactic changes such as frosts. After hearing of the discovery of Pacas, the Salvadoran Coffee Institute decided to create a new varietal, aiming to keep the great cup quality from the Maragogype, but incorporate the disease resistance of Pacas. They named their project Pacamara, combining the two names. The project took nearly 30 years, through generations of crossing, but in the late 80’s, the final version of the Pacamara variety was released to farmers. The variety is now popular in countries such as Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua and obviously El Salvador, leading to diverse flavour profiles, depending on how and where the coffee is grown and processed, but is often very fruit-driven, with some herbal and floral notes. The quality is almost always very high, and Pacamaras have placed highly and won Cup of Excellence in several countries, El Salvador being no exception. A Pacamara has won the national competition outright in five of the previous six years, three of these from Finca Santa Rosa.

About La Cabra

A focus on raw material

If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.

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Producer Jorge Raul Rivera
Region Chalatenango
Altitude 1550 masl
Varietal Pacamara
Process Honey
Harvest March 2019


With the honey process a certain amount of mucilage and pulp are allowed to remain on the coffee bean during depulping. The cover will stay with the bean during fermentation and drying thereby contributing to the sugars absorbed by the bean and affecting the flavour notes of the final cup. The amount of mucilage remaining defines the type of honey process - white, yellow, red or black in ascending order of mucilage concentration. If they are processed properly, the coffees can take on quite a lot of sweetness and flavours while remaining clean.

Raised drying beds (sometimes referred to as African drying beds) are often preferable when working with honey processed coffees, because of the additional airflow they allow. The air ensures that the beans dry evenly and reduces the incidence of fungi and bacteria formation. On the other hand, some farmers are accustomed to using sun-exposed patio drying that require a regular raking of beans to avoid moulds. While total fermentation and drying time depend on such choices as well as ambient temperature and moisture levels, red honey processing easily needs two weeks from depulping until drying has completed.

La Cabra

Brew Guides

You can brew our coffees any way you want it is just a matter of the right ratios.





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