Im sure that many of you have noticed that we have a AK-47 on the label of our El Salvador – Tono Tincas Pacamara. We didn’t just put it there because it looked cool or we were trying to push some sort of socialist rebel agenda. I thought that I might take a minute to discuss the meaning behind this symbol and hopefully start a new conversation.
First, What is Pacamara?
Pacamara is a hybrid of Pacas and Maragogype varietals created in El Salvador in 1958. The scientists took the low yield Maragogype and crossed it with the high yielding Pacas variational creating the Pacamara. The first thing you’ll notice is the large size of this roasted coffee and its smooth flavor characteristics. The Pacamara tree has extremely large leaves, fruit and seeds.
Why should I care?
This all started back in 2010 when Hemileia vastatrix, or Coffee Rust as we all know it , began to proliferate through Central and South America. Coffee Rust is an obligate parasitic fungus, which means it is a microorganism that must take energy and nutrients from a specific live host (coffee) and reproduces differently than either plants or animals. Arabica is the most susceptible species to this fungus, but Robusta can also be affected.
When the fungus first colonizes on a coffee tree, it presents with a slight discoloration on the underside of leaves. These spots quickly progress to yellow then an orange ‘dust’, which are the mature spores. Most commonly rust causes infected leaves to fall off, leaving the tree without leaves and at a considerable disadvantage for the rest of the fruiting season. Leaf rust usually does not result in plant death, but it is possible under extreme colonization.
A coffee plant can lose a substantial amount of foliage when attacked by coffee rust. When a coffee plant does not have the optimal amount of leaf area, it does not have the ability to accumulate adequate energy via photosynthesis and store up the appropriate resources for fruit production. This is why there is generally a loss of yield even the year after rust outbreaks and why the Pacamara varietal is very susceptible.
To help bring awareness to the issue, the marketing geniuses at Stumptown conceived a new campaign that would grab the attention of their patrons as well as help to further the discussion regarding Coffee Rust. The staff were to wear the newly designed shirts which would spark conversation. Some people probably misconceived the imagery as something violent, while others just asked and were then educated regarding the campaign.
We chose to use this symbol on our bag of Tono Ticas to help further the cause, raise awareness, and show our willingness to fight (not violently) to save these varietals. People don’t realize this, but we are losing our coffee farming ecosystems to climate change, disease, and overpopulation at an alarming rate. I haven’t even began to discuss the planting of disease resistant strains of plants that will forever change the taste of coffee as we currently know it. So, please help us preserve and protect the many varieties of coffee out there by purchasing quality coffee, especially when that coffee leads to a higher wage for the farmer and his workers, furthering the cycle and uplifting all who are involved in the coffee chain.