Montecarlos - Pacamara - 2022

Montecarlos - Pacamara - 2022

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    The Pacamara variety has a unique flavor profile that is often defined by an umami characteristic. At worst this can be experienced as onion-like, at best it produces the effect of an expansive mouthfeel and a completeness of flavor profile rarely found in other varieties. The present meticulously crafted lot is incredibly clean with an exceptional sweetness and is replete with rich flavors of brown butter, tropical fruits, and toasted nuts.

    Carlos Batres inherited Montecarlos in the mid-1980s. The fifth generation of his family to steward this land, Batres has made Montecarlos his life’s work. Having immediately grasped the marketing potential of the pacamara variety, Carlos purchased much of the early pacamara plant material from the El Salvadorian government and successfully produced the world’s first commercial harvest of pacamara in 1992-93. This pacamara selection from the 2022 harvest is impeccably sweet and clean: a beautiful testament to the continuation of Carlos and Julie’s inspiring project at Montecarlos.

    In the mid-1980’s Carlos Batres was living in London representing El Salvador at the International Coffee Organization. During this time the coffee market was regulated by quotas. The quota system temporarily broke down, due to the 1985 drought in Brazil, and Carlos went back to live in El Salvador representing Goldman Sachs and General Foods Maxwell House. During this time Carlos also inherited a farm and happened to come across the Pacamara variety which had just been released by the El Salvadorian government, who had been working on crossing the pacas and maragogipe varieties since the 1960s. Carlos happened to be in need of seed stock with which to plant his newly obtained farm and the pacamara variety was an interesting prospect.

    The laboratory had achieved its breeding goal of getting the productivity of the pacas (a spontaneous bourbon mutation discovered in El Salvador in the 1940’s) with the large size of the maragogipe (a spontaneous typica mutation discovered in Brazil in the 1870’s). Carlos Batres foresaw its marketing potential and bought most of the material they had available in 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990 to plant and develop on Montecarlos. He produced the world’s first commercial pacamara crop in 1992-93 and started marketing it in Europe based on its size, and not the cup, since the specialty movement had not yet picked up in the world. The coffee was sold primarily in France and Italy, where it was marketed as a substitute for maragogipe, which had practically disappeared from the market.

    By the late 1990s and early 2000s the specialty movement was taking shape in the US and the pacamara variety had started to gain broader recognition. However, it was not until Starbucks brought it into the market as a Montecarlos “Black Apron Exclusive” in 2004 that the variety became well known. At the same time, specialty coffee shined another spotlight on the variety in the 2004 El Salvador Cup of Excellence. Since then, Carlos has shared pacamara trees with other farmers in El Salvador. He is rightfully very proud of his role as one of the variety’s main pioneers and at Montecarlos, it continues to be the flagship variety.

    2022 marks the sixth consecutive year of Passenger’s ongoing foundational partnership with Carlos and his partner Julie. As always, we select multiple lots from the harvest, each an example of a distinct arabica variety. A bourbon from the farm is currently presented as our Foundational Montecarlos offering and we are proudly adding the pacamara, as well as a gesha selection, to the Reserve Lot menu at the present time.

    Montecarlos Estate

    Montecarlos Estate, located in the Apaneca municipality in the Ahuachapán department of El Salvador, is a truly breathtaking farm. Stunning landscapes and awe-inspiring vistas are in great abundance in coffee producing countries. One never tires of seeing lush vegetation adorn mountain tops while driving down bucolic roads and through small provincial towns.

    Carlos and Julie Batres, owners of Montecarlos Estate.

    Ripe Bourbon Coffee Cherry going into the floating tanks at Montecarlos Estate in Apaneca, El Salvador.

    Carlos Batres owns and runs Montecarlos Estate with his wife, Julie. Carlos was born in El Salvador and Julie in Cuba. The farm has been in Carlos’ family since 1870, when his great, great grandfather, Rafael Moran started it.

    As frequently happens in Latin America, the farm was handed down generation by generation, being split amongst siblings with each generation. By the time Carlos inherited land (five generations and any number of siblings/cousins later) the parcel he received was a fraction of the original total. Carlos, having already experienced great success in the coffee industry (though not as a producer), decided at that time to convince his wife Julie to take the farm on as a pet project. Thirty some years later and this pet project continues to unfold and expand as Carlos continues to acquire more and more land from neighbors. In its current form, this impressive farm is 500 hectares in size (1,235 acres), 400 of which are planted in coffee and 100 of which is rainforest.

    Learn more about Montecarlos Estate

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