Pacas Coffee: A Fruity Central American Single Origin
You might have heard of the famous Pacamara and Catuai coffee beans. But what about the genetic parents who made those delicious Arabica cultivars possible?
The Pacas is an Arabica coffee variety that needs a little more love. Keep reading to learn more about what it is and how to make the best of this coffee bean.
What Is Pacas Coffee?
Pacas coffee is a variety of Coffea arabica that is native to Central America. First discovered in 1949 on a coffee farm in Santa Ana, El Salvador, Pacas is a natural mutation of Bourbon coffee (1). Farmers have been breeding Pacas with other varieties of coffee to create cultivars like Pacamara. Cultivars are bred for specific genetic traits, like their size or resistance to coffee leaf rust.
Pacas is a dwarf coffee plant, like many other naturally-occurring Bourbon coffee bean varieties. It only grows up to 4 feet, instead of the 10-15 feet typical of other arabica coffees. On a commercial coffee farm, this smaller size and narrower spread allow higher-density planting and increased yields. So Pacas is frequently bred with other varieties to create higher-yielding offspring.
What Does the Pacas Plant Look Like?
The dwarf Pacas coffee plant has dark-green, glossy leaves. It grows white and purple flowers that bloom into small, dark red berries containing two seeds each (2).
Pacas Cup Profile
The cup profile of any coffee bean is determined by its terroir, processing method, and roast level – and, in this case, its genetic predecessor. Sharing similar tasting notes to their Bourbon parents and other Bourbon offspring like Catuai, Pacas coffees are well-balanced with a rich body.
Most of El Salvador’s coffee is shade-grown, so you can expect a sweet, complex cup. But differences arise due to the processing method.
The majority of El Salvador coffee beans are wet processed, and honey processing is the second most common method.
Pacas beans that have undergone washed processing are completely de-pulped with water in special tanks. These Pacas coffees will be brighter and less complex. You’ll be tasting the bean itself rather than the surrounding fruit. As a result, the cup profile is clean and straightforward.
Honey-processed Pacas coffee beans are de-pulped and then allowed to dry naturally. Since more mucilage is left intact, the fermentation and breakdown of natural sugars in the fruit impart sweeter, fruitier, more complex flavors to the cup, according to Charles Lauriat of Trianon Coffee (3).
In the cup, honey-processed coffees tend to be more complex than their washed analogs, but not as fruity as natural coffees.
Want to see honey processing in action? Check out how Oscar and Francisca Chacon process their coffee beans at their Costa Rican Las Lajas Micromill.
Best Brewing Method for Pacas Coffee Beans
The best brewing method for Pacas beans depends on whether you buy wet-processed or honey-processed beans. We suggest using a Chemex or coffee siphon for wet-processed beans to bring out the clean, bright flavors. For honey or naturally processed coffees, methods that help the beans develop more complexity are preferred. Try the Aeropress, French press, or even espresso.
Pacas is a well-balanced, sweet, and complex single-origin coffee from Central America. Whether you enjoy the clean flavors of wet-processed beans or the fruitier, sweeter notes of honey-processed ones, Pacas coffee has a cup profile that’s great for any time of day.
Have you tried Pacas beans? Drop us a comment below or in our Home Grounds Facebook group and tell us about your experience.
The best roast levels for Pacas coffee are medium to medium-dark roasts. These roasts preserve the fruitiness and complexity of the beans while providing enough heat for the sugars to develop.
The best places to buy Pacas coffee beans are from local coffee roasters who import green Pacas coffee beans directly from Central American coffee farms.
Fresh-roasted coffee beans will always yield the best cup because there is less time for the coffee beans to oxidize. Oxidation breaks down volatile flavor compounds, leaving behind a cup of coffee that tastes more like cardboard than fruit.
Yes, Pacas coffee is good in a cappuccino. But if you’ll be using this single-origin bean in a cappuccino, we’d suggest going with a darker roast and pulling ristretto shots. The darker roast brings more caramelized boldness to the bean, and the concentrated ristretto preparation adds a rich body and sweetness to the final cup.
- Arabica Coffee Varieties | Pacas. (2022). Worldcoffeeresearch.org. https://varieties.worldcoffeeresearch.org/varieties/pacas
- Gardens Alive. (2022). Dwarf Pacas Coffee. Gardensalive.com. https://www.gardensalive.com/product/dwarf-pacas-coffee
- How is honey processed coffee different from washed or natural? (2021, August 13). Trianon Coffee. https://www.trianoncoffee.com/blogs/news/how-is-honey-processed-coffee-different-from-washed-or-natural