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Finca Santa Rosa Honey

A softly floral honey processed Pacamara lot from three time Cup of Excellence winner Raul Rivera in El Salvador.
  • Three-time Cup of Excellence winning farm, including in 2019
  • Produced by Jorge Raul Rivera, a second generation coffee producer
  • We visited the farm in March this year, and this is the third time we have purchased coffee from Raul
  • Look for: Blood Orange, Brown Sugar and Date.

About the coffee

Finca Santa Rosa Honey Pacamara

We picked four lots for this year, and are excited to share them with you over the coming weeks. This Honey Pacamara is becoming somewhat of a feature coffee for us here at La Cabra, with the floral notes of the Pacamara shining clearly through the sugary sweet character produced by the honey process, tied together by a crisp blood orange freshness.

This is our third year buying coffee from Jorge Raul Rivera. 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, at 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.

Look for:

Blood Orange, Brown Sugar and Date

Story behind

Visiting Raul is always a treat

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. Raul Sr. capitalised on this, 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, a great showcase for the first few speciality coffee producers in the country. The Riveras saw a prime opportunity to enter the high quality coffee market, and realised that 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 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. Visiting Raul is always a treat, he’s a genuinely passionate and professional coffee producer who’s enthusiasm is rather infectious, in fact it’s sometimes difficult to leave Finca Santa Rosa, as Raul is always keen to share his knowledge and experience. The pride he takes in every single detail of the farm and step of the process is obvious, and this translates into the incredibly high quality lots of coffee he is able to produce. During our visit in March, we were also able to visit Raul’s small cupping lab in San Salvador and taste some of the truly special lots he was considering entering into the Cup of Excellence.


Producer Jorge Raul Rivera
Region Chalatenango
Altitude 1550 masl
Varietal Pacamara
Process Honey
Harvest March 2020


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.

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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