Pacamara is a fascinating and somewhat heavily researched cultivar, despite only accounting for about 0.22% of El Salvador’s coffee plants. It is a uniquely Salvadoran variety, developed internally by the Genetic Department of the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC) over the course of nearly 30 years beginning in 1958. Pacamara’s parents are Maragogype and the native variant Pacas, a naturally occurring Bourbon mutation discovered by the Pacas family in the Santa Ana volcanic region within El Salvador. Maragogype is a naturally occurring (and well-researched in its own right) mutation of Typica, first discovered in Brazil’s rural mountainous Bahia region. Maragogype is a large seed variety, and it contributes this characteristic to Pacamara.
Pacamara is coveted for more than just its absurdly large screen size, however. The cultivar showcases an intrinsic, unique character typically dominated by the herbal and savory side of the coffee flavor family tree. This offering is no exception in this regard. It has a middle-of-the-road density, and while the moisture isn’t terribly high at 11.6%, the water activity might raise an eyebrow as it brushes up against 0.60. As a result, the coffee responded well to an elongated roast profile with an extended period of Maillard reactions.
Two very different profiles here – long and short, with identical time (1:36) spent caramelizing sugars after first crack. The longer roast (PR-0291, gray) was unanimously preferred at the cupping table with a lot of the commonly associated flavors of the variety, including fig jam, herbs, and a satisfying combination of sweet and savory.
The shorter profile (PR-0292, red) inverted my standard incremental changes, charging hot with high gas and gradually decreasing. It didn’t work out all that well for this particular coffee. I’d strongly recommend focusing on a slow and steady pre-crack development, really sussing the most out of the coffee as it changes color from green to gold to auburn.
Richard and I brewed a really delicious Kalita filter drip batch with the longer roast above (PR-0291) a few days off roast. Replete with sweetness and character, lots of sweet breakfast pastry (almond croissant, strawberry danish,) a myriad of baked fruits like peach cobbler and poached pear, and a hint of spearmint.
I took the same roast on a spin in the La Marzocco GS3, and found it fairly easy to dial in. The longer roast lent itself well to pressurized extraction and seemed to favor a wider ratio (at least in my opinion). Tighter shots were balanced with notes of salted caramel and butterscotch with a hint of grilled citrus. Looser shots yielded more herbal notes and brighter orangy acids. My two favorite recipes are below: