Coffee from El Salvador


El Salvador can proudly say that it is both the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. This is a title not many can claim to have, so it is a true honor. Above all that, it is a globally well-known coffee origin. This is because this crop represents an important part of the country’s culture and also an economic contributor. Of course, there were ups and downs concerning coffee growth, but it has ultimately become nothing less than one of the greatest origins worldwide.

Understanding the context

In the 1920s and the 1930s, coffee represented an astounding 90% of the country’s export, and therefore the main economic power. Even though this went on for approximately 50 years, sadly, a civil war began in 1979 and went on until 1992. This tragic event caused the coffee production to suffer all around the country, and in just seven years, it plummeted drastically by 19%. If this was not enough, even after the war ended, in 1992, it was still hard for El Salvador to break back into the international market, as the competition was already heightened between other different countries.

The silver lining came in 2015, when the Salvadoran Coffee Council created a development plan that went on for 5 years, in order to resuscitate the industry. It included three targets: first, improving the position of El Salvador coffee on the global market, then promoting internal consumption, and ultimately increasing the production of high quality coffee.

The result is that in recent years, it has been reported that of all exports made by El Salvador, only approximately 1.86% are coffee, of which about 40% ends up in the United States. This happens considering the fact that the country produces around 85.000 tons  of coffee a year, all of it grown by 20.000 producers. As a result, the locals consume about 18 million kilograms of coffee annually. 

Growing regions

Starting from the fact that El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, it might be hard to believe that it actually has a number of different growing regions. They include Ahuachapan, Chalatenango, La Libertad, Santa Ana, San Salvador, Morazán, and many others. Here, the harvest season extends for a longer than usual period of time, from December through March, and the peak can be noticed in January and February. 

Because some of the farms are located in either mountainous, or remote areas, the transport of their crop can be delayed due to many difficulties that are encountered. This is why it is very important for the packaging to have a high quality, in order to preserve the beans for as long as possible. 

The quality and flavour of the beans

Right now, almost all of the coffee is shade grown. The prominent variety is Arabica, 60% of it being Bourbon and the runner ups Pacas and Pacamara. 

In case you have not heard about Pacas before, it is an original Salvadoran variety, representing approximately 25% of the whole production. Its story goes back in 1956, when the Pacas family discovered this natural mutation of the Bourbon variety. It quickly became a famous plant, mainly because of its high yields and small size, which means that more can be grown in less space, a huge benefit for the small farms. Later on, Pacas was crossed with Maragogipe in order to create Pacamara. 

Pacamara also enjoys a worldwide popularity, thanks to its elegant acidity, medium to heavy body and an almost creamy texture. Right now, it can be found in the Honduras region and you can tell it apart due to butterscotch, chocolate, red berries, and citrus fruits notes. 

Processing methods

In El Salvador, there is no right or wrong way to process the coffee beans. Producers always experiment with their techniques during the harvest time in order to find the best alternative. Approximately 10% of the sold coffee is ”pergamino” washed (parchment), while the rest are honey and naturally processed. 

The choice in processing is highly influenced by the accessibility to better prices. This is why if, for example, one producer will gain better results with honey processing, the rest of the producers will follow, and therefore create a trend. This whole experimentation has led to the El Salvador coffee to have various sweet and complex aromas and flavours, like fruit, dark sugar, chocolate and caramel. 

If this type of coffee has caught your eye, you should also know that it is mostly RTB and A rated. Even so, don’t fully trust us and see for yourself how amazing and tasteful El Salvador coffee is. You can do this by visiting specialized sites like Cafendo, or Cafe Imports, that will make sure to provide you with the best quality products. Who knows? You might find your new favourite coffee!