El Salvador: Understanding the Progress

Posted on June 1st, 2016

Cafe Imports has been buying coffees from Chalatenango in El Salvador since 2007 when Chalate (as we call it locally) was discovered by Cup of Excellence.  These coffees have consistently been taking the top places in Cup of Excellence and other competitions even since. Currently, we are purchasing coffee directly from producers at parchment level and organizing the dry milling of the lots.  This allows us to have access to the top lots in the area; we cupped about 60% of the high altitude production to select our lots this year.

 We have found quality in this area to exceed what is produced in other parts of El Salvador this is due to several factors:

1. Prominent Pacamara Variety

2. Cooler Climate Conditions

3. Drying on Raised Beds

4. Terroir

Pacamara is probably one of the top cupping varieties globally.  It was developed in El Salvador by Mr. Angel Cabrera and his team.  It is a cross of Pacas (a dwarf Bourbon) and Maragogype.  With Pacamara we’ve seen 88+ cups at 1200+ meters!  This is a very low altitude for an 88 point coffee, which speaks directly to the inherent quality of this variety.  We are also purchasing Pacas lots, which are essentially a dwarf version of the Bourbon variety with higher yields.  In very small volumes we are also seeing some Bourbon and Catuai.


The cooler climate simulates higher altitude and allows for a softer drying curve, which is essential for cup stability on arrival to consuming countries.  Also, many of the producers dry on raised beds which also dries the coffee at a softer pace.

Finally, the terroir is very similar to the rest of El Salvador, but is in much better shape as land in Chalate hasn’t been worked as much as other parts of the country like Santa Ana.

Most of these lots are small microlots so this year we have decided to export them in 35kg Yute + GrainPro to give access to smaller roasters.

Words by:  Piero Cristiani, Café Imports Sourcing and Development

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