Skilled and passionate farming techniques, transparent traceability, rich volcanic soil, high altitudes and cultivated single varieties make for ideal conditions for El Salvador to produce some amazing coffees. Coffee has been grown in the country since the 1850s and has become a major part of El Salvador’s economy, with coffee being the main export today. There are some truly interesting and exceptional coffees coming out of El Salvador; 60% of the coffee cultivated is Bourbon which is clean, bright and citrusy, the remaining 40% mostly made up of Pacas and Pacamara varieties (that El Salvador claims to be the originator of), which bring big body, good creamy mouthfeel and fruitiness. 95% of the coffee grown here is shade protected and interspersed with fruit plantations, tended to some 20,000 attentive small farmers. The pickers and millers also have a high level of education, which maintains the quality of the coffee through to distribution, a process that is aided by the Consejo Salvadoreño Del Café, whose ambitions and work in increasing export markets for growers has been paramount to growth in the specialty coffee industry.
The majority of the farms in El Salvador are located along the volcanic mountains that run almost parallel through the country; the South mountain range houses larger farms, who produce large volumes of good, balanced and full-bodied coffees, whereas the Northern range cultivates subtler, more floral and complex coffees, which is gaining increasing interest from Specialty roasters. The geography however does pose natural threats of volcanic eruptions and hurricanes.
After two tough years for El Salvador's coffee industry, with leaf rust and record low harvests, this year is looking a bit better. In early 2015 our green partner Nordic Approach visited some of the producers from Jasal and Los Pirineos and the farms were looking great, full of cherries in the higher altitudes. Quality is great and while volume isn't huge, it is up from last year.
Growing Regions: Aloptepec-Metapan, El Balsamo-Quetzaltepec, Tecapa-Chinameca, Cacahuatique, Chichotepec, Apaneca-Llamatepec (500 – 2,300 masl)
Varieties: Bourbon, Pacas, Pacamara, Caturra, Catuai, Catisic
Processes: Washed and Natural
Harvest: October - March
World Ranking: 15th Largest Coffee Producer in the World
Tasting Notes: Medium-light bodied, balanced acidity and clean, strawberry-like sweetness, with subtle almonds, caramel and juicy notes