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El Salvador Coffee

The fact that it is the smallest country in Central America does not limit El Salvador from producing high grade coffee beans consistently. El Salvador ranks as 19th top coffee exporting nation with an approximated amount of 573,000 sacks weighing 60 kilograms. It controls less than one percent total world coffee market. Production of coffee is linked with the country development where it accounted for about 90 percent of total exports in the country around 1920s.

More than 60 percent of El Salvador coffee is bourbon which is highly characterized by strong flavor of citrus, bright/clean and sweet flavor. Most coffee growers plant coffee on less than twenty hectares areas with a regulation to prevent single persons from owning more than two hundred and forty five hectares.

Varieties grown in El Salvador

Most farmers in El Salvador have adopted specialty coffee beans growing. This species include Pacas, Geisha and Bourbon. The varieties provide top quality coffee which is very expensive to the consumers but beneficial to farmers. Coffee flavor and quality vary with region mostly attributed by variety and elevation of the area.

Bourbon variety is characterized by cocoa taste and lush citrus favor. The variety grown in Santa Ana has a smooth finish chocolaty taste with hints of the wonderful mandarin citrus acid with rich full body. Varieties of bourbon include pink/ orange and red Bourbon.

Renowned Pacamara have a heavy rich body with hints of tropical fruits, aftertaste of the yellow grapefruit, syrupy- like mouth feel alongside the bright citrus flavor.

The country is also the origin of varieties Pacas and Pacamara coffee beans. Pacamara is an advancement of the maragogype and Pacas to produce high standard coffee.

Growing conditions

Coffee is produced in regions with Very high elevations varying from 1400-1500 meters from MSL. The regions are shaded with other tree species. The area receive sufficient rainfall amount throughout with moderated sunshine the year and the temperatures are medium. Rich volcanic soil in the country’s volcanoes and mountain ranges favor production of coffee in the highlands. These factors blends together contribute to production of good graded coffee which ranks high in the international market. This in turn has resulted to high prices and good return to the farmers.

Features of El Salvador Coffee Beans

Offers a variety of single origin beans for instance from specific farms (good example is the estate of El Borbollon located at the Santa Ana Volcano).

The country is turning to coffee specialty bean production which is a key to hybrid coffee and help in maximizing the returns of the farmers.

Typical kinds of coffee produced are Bourboon, Pacamara, Pacas, Caturra and Catuai. Harvesting period of coffee in the country is between October and March. The coffee is typically available around July.

Why the good quality?

More than 90 percent of coffee produced in El Salvador is grow under the cover of shades from other tree species. Combining this with very careful picking of coffee grains from the trees by farmers and extensive processing the country produces unbeatable good quality coffee. On top of this the farmers are slowly turning to high quality Arabica special coffee beans variety, grown on the highlands of the country.

Coffee growing regions in El Salvador

Coffee farms extend almost in the entire of El Salvador. The country is blessed with a lot of volcanoes and mountain ranges with varying elevations the least being 500 meters above sea level. The common major coffee growing regions in the country are:

1. Mountain range of Apaneca-Ilamatepec- The area has elevations ranging from 500- 2365m from MSL and lies on the western region. It is among the renown in the country. Homes the top farms in the country and the coffee regions include the volcano of Santa Ana. It is characterized by rich volcano soils which highly contribute to the unique standard coffee beans grown in the region.

2. Central belt- It is Located on the mountain ranges of El Basalmo- Quazaltepec. The area enjoys rich volcano soils that favor coffee production. The region is actually named after the Balsam Salvadoran coffee, aromatic resin that is grown there. The elevation ranges from about 500 to about 1900 meters.

3. Mountain range of Teccapa- chinchontepec- The region has high elevations varying from 500 -2000 meters. It lies along the volcanoes of chaparrastique and San Miguel. It ranks 3rd among the countries coffee producing regions.

4. The mountain ranges of Cacahuatique- It is in the east along ciudad Barrios and between Morazan and Miguel. The elevations range from 1663 down to 500 meters. The soils are not rich volcano but somehow clay and the farmers usually dig enough holes to put rich soils while planting new coffee plants.

5. Mountain range of Nahuaterique – The region is famous for its evergreen forests.

6. Alatepeque- metapan – The area is famous for growing high standard coffee in the northern region with altitudes between 1000- 2000 meters above sea level.

7. Chinchontepec volcano (san Vicente)- The region is among the newest coffee growing regions in the country. Varieties common are the Bourbon and Pacas.

Challenges facing coffee growers

Roya epidemic- this is a type of leaf lust common with Arabica coffee leaves. Specialty coffee varieties are high prone to this disease. With constant fights against pest and diseases the country risks the success of their coffee.

Violence, poor economy and high corruption leads to the farmers not receiving the right worth of their produce.

Harvesting coffee in the steep highlands of El Salvador can be very expensive since the harvesting method can only be through hard picking. However this is not a big challenge since the farmers are turning to specialty varieties which are very expensive in the international market.


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Last Updated: 09/02/2020