Sustainable Agriculture at Finca Pashapa
We have been purchasing coffee from the Salazar family’s farm, Finca Pashapa, in La Labor, Honduras longer than anywhere else—14 years as of 2016! We’ve always been drawn to Roberto Salazar’s sustainable agricultural practices and have learned a lot about organic farming from him over the years. He’s especially known for his worm composting skills and has some of the healthiest coffee-growing environments we’ve ever seen. Roberto’s worm composting system is a major contributing factor to Pashapa’s economic sustainability as well as environmental sustainability because it helps them make all of the compost that their farm requires.
We’ve always been delighted with the sustainability of Roberto’s coffee, but the quality levels over the years were inconsistent. We almost always sold Finca Pashapa as a french roast coffee, with the characteristics of the roast dominating the coffee’s flavor profile. We wanted to keep buying Roberto’s coffee each year, but as our quality standards increased, it became difficult to find a place for it among our offerings.
After many conversations and a lot of trial and error, the Finca Pashapa 2016 harvest was the best version of the coffee we’ve ever tasted. By refining picking and processing techniques, the Salazar family demonstrated what can happen when quality and sustainability come together. Investments in quality improvements generally have quicker returns, but that return can be at the expense of long-term sustainability, as is the case with over-use of chemical fertilizers. Sustainability investments, like the build-up of healthy soil over time through compost application can take longer to produce results; and that’s why increases in the quality and sustainability of a coffee don’t always go hand-in-hand. They do, though, at Finca Pashapa, and we hope the Salazar family’s path can serve as a model for other coffee farmers.