Roberto Salazar, Finca PashapaWhen our Director of Coffee and Co-Owner Peter Giuliano tasted a phenomenal coffee during a Honduran coffee competition in 2003, he was so impressed that he made a point to meet the farmer as soon as possible. “Solid as a rock … and built to roast,” in Peter’s words, the coffee had a dense body, sweet acidity, and pure coffee flavor. The farmer, of course, was Roberto Salazar and the coffee came from his Finca Pashapa, located in Ocotepeque. Peter immediately made plans to visit his farm, and through an increasingly close partnership, we have buying Roberto’s coffee ever since. Amazingly, it keeps getting better each season! Roberto is a true pioneer of sustainable, organic agriculture, and it shows; his farm is a lush forest, dense with a perfect canopy, myriad songbirds, and pristine indigenous vegetation. Roberto is heir to a rich coffee tradition; his grandparents founded Finca Pashapa 42 years ago, and produced the first washed coffee in the region. Today, we sell Finca Pashapa’s coffee as our signature French Roast; it is sweet, chocolaty and complex, never ashy or hollow the way lesser French Roasts can be. We believe it to be the most delicious French Roast on the planet.
Q: How did you get involved in coffee? Tell us a little bit of your history.
My grandparents began farming coffee in Ocotepeque 42 years ago, when all of the equipment was made of wood and the coffee had to be taken through El Salvador for export. I started working on the farm 10 years ago and we started transitioning to organic production a year later. I have also been a national judge in the Cup of Excellence for five years, and on two international juries. I also work with a group called Honduran Quality Coffee that cups coffee from the entire western region of Honduras in hopes of recognizing and promoting quality.
Q: Where were you born?
I was born in Ocotepeque.
Q: High quality coffee requires a lot of hard work. What do you hope for the coffee that you produce?
More than anything, I hope to achieve the highest level of sustainability for the future of my farm and my family. I hope that the consumer of my coffee understands the efforts we make to take care of the natural environment and to represent our nation of Honduras.
Q: Do you have children? If so, how many and what are their names?
I have a named Sofía.
Q: What is a typical food from your region?
The name of my farm, Finca Pashapa, comes from an indigenous word for a sweet local treat: pashapa means tortilla with panela. Panela is boiled sugar cane and it is eaten all over the region, but in this village they ate a lot of pashapa.
Q: Please share something special or unique about your part in the coffee process.
I manage a mill, CAFELOL, that receives coffee from 350 producers in the surrounding area, most of them very small (0.5-2 bags/year) and only organic producers. My goal as manager is to get producers to think more of the environment, their health, and sustainability.
Q: Coffee can be exhausting. How do you like to relax in your free time?
Free time?I don’t have free time! To relax, I like to walk around the farm and the forest and admire the beauty of the natural world.
Q: Who is a hero of yours?
Q: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been? Describe it to us.
My favorite place is actually very close to my farm: we call it el chorro [the jet] because one of the springs in the forest falls into a beautiful pool. Sometimes you can even see rainbows in the water!
Q: We tell all of our customers about your amazing worm compost operation. How did you begin that project?
I began nine years ago with a gift of 800 worms from the Honduran Institute of Coffee and over the years I have expanded the operation to what it is today: now our worms make 200,000 pounds of compost each year.