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Finca Santa Rosa Natural Pacas

Heavy dried fruit is punctuated by a malic acidity in this naturally processed Pacas lot by Raul Rivera.
  • 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: Maple, Apricot and Dark Chocolate.

About the coffee

Finca Santa Rosa Natural Bourbon

This is the first time we have purchased a Pacas lot from Raul, and the natural processes softens this cup out into a rich dessert-like coffee. A creamy milk chocolate base is joined by notes of baked apple, and a sweetness full of raisin and plum.

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:

Milk Chocolate, Apple and Raisin

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. We picked four lots for this year, and are excited to share them with you over the coming weeks.


Producer Jorge Raul Rivera
Region Chalatenango
Altitude 1550 masl
Varietal Bourbon
Process Natural
Harvest March 2020


The natural, or dry process, is the traditional process, going back generations. When accomplished in a controlled and careful manner, dry processed coffees can produce flavour experiences not found in wet processed coffees, deep fruits and florals, normally with heavier mouthfeel and lower acidity. The cherries are first sorted, and then laid out on in thin layers (2-6 cm) on raised drying beds. These are almost always used for high quality naturals, as they aid airflow around the coffee as it dries, enabling more even drying. It is very important that coffees are sorted very carefully early on in the drying process, as all of the cherries quickly turn dark brown, making it impossible to separate under and overripe cherries. The cherries are turned frequently to avoid mold formation or over-fermentation, until they reach a moisture content of below 20%, and the outer cherry layer shrinks and blackens. This process takes between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.

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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