El Salvador’s Coffeelands

Text By Jeff Courson, Southwest Account Manager for Ally Coffee / Photos by James Tooill, US Sales Manager

Flowering coffee trees at Finca Sabanetas in Chalchuapa

Although it is the smallest country in Central America, El Salvador is packed with wonderful places, people, and of course coffee. Ally Coffee and several clients visited El Salvador in March for a sourcing trip and were able to see different production methods and farms in two regions of the country.

Finca Sabanetas is a coffee farm in Chalchuapa growing coffee trees under the shade of other species. The fragrant coffee blossoms and lush green leaves covering the branches indicate the trees’ health. The soil here is rich and growing traditional varieties has been successful for owners Luiz Mario and Beatrice Pimentel.

Finca Loma La Gloria is nestled in the mountains of El Boquerón, managed by Anny Ruth Pimentel. El Boquerón means “the big hole,” referring to the San Salvador Volcano’s crater. The volcano stretches along the north border of the capital city San Salvador and the Boquerón area is located inside the volcano’s crater. Here, the land surrounding the crater is covered in bright green hues. It is a jungle of coffee farms, private properties, and communities of people living off the land in permanent and temporary housing. Many community members work on the local coffee farms and mills during harvest and processing times of year.

Flowering coffee trees at Sabanetas and ripe harvest at Loma La Gloria.

The name Loma La Gloria means “Hill of Glory” and the farm is 127 manzanas (about 300 acres, or 120 hectares) of coffee plots ranging from 1200 to 1750 meters above sea level, where the farm hugs the rim of the volcano. The varieties on the farm are Bourbon and Pacamara, the original Salvadorian varieties that grow well in the region’s climate and have distinct characteristics, both in the field and in the cup. All the plots are identified by natural and planted borders and have mixed shade trees of pine, avocado, pepeto, cuje, lime, jabuticaba, cypress, mundani, voladoers, and tatascame.

Sunset at Loma La Gloria and full flowering at Sabanetas.

Right in the middle of the farm, at about 1500 meters, sits Beneficio Loma La Gloria, where all the coffee comes to be processed daily after being picked. The beneficio has everything needed to process coffee including reception tanks, deulpers, washing tanks, patios, raised beds, warehouses, a dry mill, and sorting tables. Loma La Gloria is know for its Honey processed and Natural processed coffees.

Patio drying Honey and Natural process coffees (left) and raised beds drying Honey Processed beans (right).

Many of the farms in El Salvador were devastated by the la roya leaf rust in 2012–13, but farmers have worked hard to replant and restore the land. The spirit of hard work and positivity is apparent both in coffee production and pastimes. One of the perks of working at the mill is once the beans are collected off the patios for warehousing, one of the patios doubles as a soccer arena where some fairly healthy matches are played.

After the patio is cleared of coffee, Jeff and the folks at LLG are ready for a soccer match!

See additional photos in the Facebook album.