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Francesco Sanapo
Looking for the best coffees! A diary of my travel to the coffee’s countries of origin. Finca Santa Petrona

Thursday February 23rd 2012 I got on a plane which brought me to two wonderful countries: El Salvador and Costa Rica. It wasn’t my first travel to the countries of origin but, like every single other time, I had a strong and very pleasant feeling. Even before I left I already knew I would meet so many people and learn a lot of things; maybe this was the main reason I decided to start this trip.


I cleared a few doubts that I had regarding the steps of processing coffee and I discovered very interesting experiments that are being carried on with great results. I’ve studied in depth the drupe with the help of local agronomists, from maturation to collection, by testing directly the different results on the beverage.


First stage on my schedule: El Salvador

When I arrived in San Salvador’s airport I found my dear friend Alejandro Mendez with open arms. With him, we immediately stopped by one of the marvelous coffee shops branded “VIVA ESPRESSO”; here I tasted a good coffee (finca San Jose – coffee of the year 2011) and I met Federico Bolanos. Both Alejandro and Federico were quite busy because the Salvadoran barista championship was about to start and they had a team to follow and to support for the first phase of competition, which was going to be held the following day.

For this reason, I spent my first two days in El Salvador following competitions: you can find a complete report on them on this blog  http://coffeeinspiration.gruppocimbali.it/?p=309


After the competition, my schedule included visiting a few producers and companies, where I've learnt about the processing of coffee (mills).

I visited many fincas and mills, but since it’s impossible to write about all of them, I’ve decided to give some space to the producers that proved to be more interesting for me, both for the taste of the coffee they produce but also for the history and professionalism of their work.


Finca Santa Petrona

Finca Santa Petrona has been a family business for five generations; currently, it’s run by  Lily Pacas, a truly eclectic woman, by her brother Federico Pacas and their father.

All throughout my visit, Lily showed a particular aspect of her character: her stubborness for producing a top quality coffee (I would add that this is her strength). She has a great passion for coffee, and that’s why she’s been the first female barista to win the national competition in El Salvador. She managed to run both her two biggest passions in an excellent way:  daily work in the finca and constant attention towards the world of  coffee shops.

Finca Santa Petrona is located at a height of 1450 metres on the slopes of the Saint Anna volcano and is the second oldest finca for the cultivation of the Pacas variety, but it also produces other excellent varieties of coffee, such as bourbon and pacamara. The history of this finca started back in 1917 and, since its foundation, Santa Petrona has always been recognized as producer of one of the best coffees in El Salvador. They work in connection with the local community and fully respect the natural environment: this is what can be defined an approach to sustainable business, which has allowed to produce a good coffee for over 100 years.

The company estends over 17.67 hectares and is divided into several micro lots (divided according different positions and botanical varieties): VEINTIOCHITO; VEINTIOCHON; EL PEROL; LA BOLSA;  EXPERIMENTAL;  REFE; LOMA CHINA; GUAMITALES ABAJO; GUAMITALES ARRIBA; EL CERRITO; PACAS VIEJO.

During my visit I had the chance to note the quality of the work done, of the harvest which is truly hand made and controlled afterwards, in order to eliminate possible drupes which didn’t reach the correct level of maturation, until arriving to the mill (which is owned by the family too), equipped with top level machineries in order to complete the processing and to respect all the efforts made throughout the year.

Coffees produced by Santa Petrona company are processed with washed and natural processes. Besides producing great washed ones, the mill is developing a huge work in order to obtain good naturals. The process is made both on the concrete patio and on African beds, but sometimes furnaces are used too, by pre-heating them with hot air obtained with a flame powered by parchment, with a controlled temperature.


Finca Santa Petrona produces an excellent coffee and does it with commitment and dedication. These are the results of the coffee tastings:

- Finca Santa Petrona: pacamara #86:

- Finca Santa Petrona: bourbon #87

- Finca Santa Petrona pacas: #85,5

You can see all the picture of Finca Petrona on my Google : https://plus.google.com/photos/117782034001923397907/albums/5728775711589021457?authkey=CJubx82U9KGCFg

Francesco Sanapo

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