Origins: El Salvador


Overview

Altitude Range: 500 - 1800m


Language Spoken: Spanish


Harvest: October – March.


Annual Coffee Production: 844,000 bags 


Common Varieties: Bourbon, Pacas, and Pacamara


Avg Farm Size: 5 hectares to 50 hectares. 

General Cup Profile

Salvadorans wear the Bourbon badge of honor proudly. Producers, even in the face of impending coffee-leaf rust, are loyal to this variety known for its big body and sweetness. Producers in El Salvador believe the Bourbon variety is what makes a coffee distinctively Salvadoran. The cups typically are big bodied, creamy, and full of sugar. Higher-grown Salvadoran coffee also expresses mild citric acidity in the form of lemon and lime. Processing experiments in El Salvador are leading to some very unique microlots, by introducing notes of strawberries and blackberries in the cup alongside the other elements.

Growing Regions

Alotepec-Metapán 

(1000–2000 masl) This is a small volcanic region located in the northwest, is famous for producing the finest coffees in the country. The varieties found in this region are: Bourbon, Pacas, Pacamara, Catuai, and Catimor. We source some exciting microlots from producers in Chalatenango, which is located in this region.

Apaneca-Ilamatepec

(500–2365 masl) Apaneca is the largest coffee-growing area in the country, and this is where most of the bigger farms are located. The region is near to Santa Ana and Ahuachapan cities. The principal varieties cropped here are Bourbon, Pacas, and various Bourbon derivatives.

El Balsamo-Quetzaltepec

(500–1960 masl) The volcano San Salvador is in this area, helping providing rich volcanic soil in the region. The varieties found in this area are: Bourbon, Pacas, and various Bourbon derivatives.

Cacahuatique 

(500–1663 masl) Most of the producers in this region have extremely small farms (5–10 hectares). The varieties found in the region are: Bourbon, Pacas, and a host of other varieties.     

Chichontepec 

(500–1000 masl) The volcano Chichontepec is located between La Paz and San Vicente. The coffee farms in this area are located on the slopes of the volcano. The varieties found in this area are: Bourbon, Pacas, and mixture of Bourbon with Pacas.  

Tecapa-Chinameca

(500–2139 masl) This is a mountainous region, where the morning dew can be seen covering the coffee in the early hours. The varieties found in the region are: Bourbon, Pacas, and mixture of Pacas and Bourbon.

Processing

Washed primarily with some natural and honey experimentation. 

Production History

Coffee was first cultivated in El Salvador in the 19th century, and it its beginnings, it was only for domestic consumption. In the middle of the century, the government encouraged the people by giving tax breaks, exemption from military service for coffee workers, and the elimination of export duties for new producers. By 1880, coffee was an exportable product and was becoming more important to the economy.

Coffee production flourished throughout the 20th century, reaching its peak in the late 1970s. By 1980, coffee was responsible for the 50% of the gross domestic product. The civil war of 1980 affected the production of coffee, and caused widespread decrease in yields and exportation.

After the war, Salvadoran coffee producers started investing on technology in the farms, as well as planting new varieties. This renewed interest in coffee inspired the creation of the Institution of Coffee. All of these important factors helped to develop the coffee industry. Since then, coffee production has grown to once again be an extremely important economic factor in El Salvador.

Looking Forward

Today, El Salvador is battling coffee-leaf rust disease, or roya, as it is known in Central America. Many producers are loyal to the delicious, yet rust-susceptible Bourbon variety. Proactive measures are being instituted to help control roya, and we are not seeing a mass introduction of new rust-resistant varieties here like we have in other countries. Some producers are seeing over 50% loss of crop, and now the fate of the Salvadoran coffee market is in their hands to rebuild.

One of our green buyers, Piero Cristiani, is from El Salvador, and his mother has been involved in the coffee industry in a big way for decades. Piero is working closely with producers uncovering new projects and help to share his experience in their fight against roya. The future is bright for El Salvador as new agricultural practices are being introduced to help combat roya, and more producers are approaching us with an interest in separating out lots for you our clients.