Well, where do we start - there’s a lot to say about Benjamin Paz.
He grows killer coffees at his farm, Finca La Salsa, but in addition to that, he and the rest of the Paz family, through their work at Beneficio San Vicente, are responsible for connecting us with all of the other producers that we work with in Honduras.
(Benjamin Paz, Nolan Hirte, Proud Mary Coffee Founder, and a bag of Yellow Geisha)
Beneficio San Vicente:
The Paz family have quickly elevated Beneficio San Vicente to the position of one of the most respected names in Honduran specialty coffee.
San Vicente’s founder, Fidel Paz, began working in the town of Peña Blanca, Santa Barbara, in the early 1980s. For 20 years Don Fidel worked hard to establish Beneficio San Vicente as a reliable exporter in the region. Over time, coffee prices began to rise, encouraging more and more local producers to get involved. In 2000, Don Fidel’s son Fidel and nephew Arturo joined the team, bringing with them a deeper understanding of agronomy, sales and marketing expertise.
Around the same time that Fidel and Arturo joined the team, programs like the Cup of Excellence and the emerging third-wave coffee scene began to highlight single producer lots from the villages surrounding Peña Blanca – such as El Cielito, El Cedral and Las Flores.
In his role as chief agronomist and cupper, Arturo Paz lead the charge in introducing Beneficio San Vicente’s farmer clients’ coffee to the world. His expert palate and encyclopedic knowledge of coffee husbandry and processing allows him to advise farmers in a holistic way; from soil health and nutrition, to harvesting and processing, and everything in-between.
In 2009, another one of Don Fidel’s sons, Benjamin Paz, joined the San Vicente team, tasked with further strengthening the existing farmer-roaster relationships.
Benjamin’s passion and dedication to the farmers and his community is truly humbling. Outside of Honduras, in specialty coffee markets across the globe, he’s become something of a coffee celebrity – always looking to establish new relationships between producers and coffee companies. In Peña Blanca, he is cherished.
During our recent visit to Peña Blanca and much of Santa Barbara, it’s impossible not to notice the whistles, waves, head nods, the frequent calls of “Mincho!”, from the streets, as we cruised through town.
(Benjamin's favorite position - relaxing in a hammock)
Finca La Salsa:
In addition to his work at Beneficio San Vicente (his family's business), Benjamin is also a coffee producer in his own right.
His farm, Finca La Salsa, is planted with varieties not typically associated with Honduras, including geisha and SL28. Located on the high slopes around Lake Yojoa, La Salsa is often shrouded in a dense layer of mist. This unique micro-climate means that temperatures are generally kept pretty low and the coffee trees are protected from too much direct sunlight. These factors slow down the ripening and cherry maturation, resulting in a super sweet cup profile.
The story of the famed geisha variety, that was rediscovered in Panama in the early 2000s, growing in the Santa Barbara region of Honduras, will forever be tied to Proud Mary.
During various visits throughout the years Proud Mary founder, Nolan Hirte, took Geisha seeds from Panama (Elida Estate, Hacienda La Esmeralda, & Finca Auromar) and Guatemala (Finca Santa Felica), to Honduras.
Planted at relatively low altitudes, to begin with, to give the plants the best chance at survival, the offspring from these trees have since been planted high up in the mountains of Santa Barbara – specifically, at Finca Don Andres (the Fernandez brothers farm) and Finca La Salsa. Meaning, the Honduran Geisha’s that we purchase come from the same genetic lineage as some of the best geishas in the world.
In 2021, Benjamin placed 5th in the Honduran Cup of Excellence competition, with a washed geisha, from La Salsa, and in 2022, he only went and won the whole fucking thing! 1st place, with a triple anaerobic washed Geisha!
(Benjamin Paz and Nolan Hirte, Proud Mary Coffee Founder)
El Dorao Cafe:
In addition to all of the work Benjamin does at Beneficio San Vicente and at his own farm, he also owns a coffee shop in the heart of Peña Blanca. With El Dorao, Benjamin’s goal is to introduce specialty coffee from Honduras, to the people of the area – something that seldom happens in coffee growing regions.