Bell Lane & Evalynn - Origin Trip to El Salvador 2023

Completing the coffee circle, producer, roaster & coffee partner. Goran, our account manager, along with Niall, owner of Evalynn Coffee shop, recently travelled to El Salvador to meet coffee producer Fedrico Pacas of Santa Petrona. 
How it Began

I think, if you are reading this story, you might want to read the beginning of the story in our Coffee Journal called “Evalynn” because this is pretty much chapter two of the same story.

But let’s do a little recap here.

Niall opened Evalynn Coffee last year and started his coffee journey with Bell Lane. Needless to say, Drogheda gained a  specialty coffee shop. (much-needed) 

With both of us starting out as baristas, the idea of “let’s do something more”, was brewing in our minds. Niall sparked the thought to have an - Exclusive roast and offer something unique for Evalynn’s customers.

Finca Santa Petrona's black honey-processed Bourbon from the Pacas family in El Salvador had all the desirable attributes for an exclusive coffee - rich, sweet, dark-chocolatey coffee with enticing cranberry and cherry acidity. So, with great assistance from Niko, our head roaster and green coffee buyer, Santa Petrona was soon offered exclusively to all who visit Evalynn.


Chapter Two - El Salvador

Fast forward a few months, Andrew from Volcafe extended an invitation to Bell Lane and Evalynn to travel with him to El Salvador and meet the Pacas family, and just like that, we were on our way from Dublin to Toronto to San Salvador.
While on a layover in Toronto, we managed to briefly explore the city's coffee scene and just HAD to give a quick mention to Fika Coffee after having a delicious brew by Yady (owner of Fika Coffee) – amazing guys! 

We arrived in San Salvador after midnight and got some much-needed rest. The next morning, we were greeted by Federico Pacas himself! it sounds unreal, and it felt unreal!

We were then joined by Lily, Federico’s sister, and began the journey toward Santa Ana volcano, where Santa Petrona is located. Immersed in the Pacas family’s history and the coffee culture of El Salvador, Lily detailed some of the joys and also, some of the difficulties that coffee producers in El Salvador face these days, - all while maintaining a smile on her face. Lily is deeply rooted in the coffee growing community, advocating for countless coffee farmers by advising good practices of coffee farming and finding buyers.

Due to road works, we could not access Finca Santa Petrona, so we continued to Finca San Jose which was a short journey to the far side of the mountain.

At the foot of San Jose farm, Lily collected a few bourbon coffee cherries and gave them to Niall and me to taste. They were surprisingly sweet and tasted something between watermelon and pomegranate and a tiny, tiny bit peppery.

We continued deeper into the farm, where some Pacamara coffee trees grew, and finally, we summitted the farm where beautiful Gesha coffee cherries grew and we were treated to breath-taking views of Santa Ana.

Just to give you an idea about picking, the bottom of the farm is quite manageable, but as you ascend it becomes very steep and challenging. I can only imagine picking requires a lot of skill. Each picker can pick approx. 80kg-100kg Coffee cherries per day. After processing, drying, etc. this results in around 16kg of specialty-grade coffee. To be honest, I lose my sleep over that.

Next on our schedule was the coffee mill “Beneficio Tuxpal” which is also the Pacas family’s home. The mill is where all magic happens which includes processing, drying, grading, packaging, etc. We toured the facilities at the mill and were then treated to lunch with the entire Pacas family. It’s really hard to explain generosity, kindness, and hospitality!

The day closed with a “blind” cupping session in the coffee lab.  14 coffees, some of them from the same farm, but processed differently, were laid across the table for us to try.  At the end of the session, the coffee from Santa Petrona was favored among all and received the highest score on the table.  At that moment I looked at Niall and he just looked back with a smile. 😊

We said our goodbyes and handed Fedrico a small token from Ireland.  - Their coffee!, roasted by Niko in Bell Lane and served in Evalynn. It is hard to determine who was happier with this meeting - us, for going “to source” and experiencing the farm or the Pacas family, seeing their family name and legacy on our blue bag full of coffee.

 Behind the dream is a vision, behind vision is idea, behind idea is passion.