Join us for our virtual event on 8th April with Vava Angwenyi introducing her new book Coffee. Milk. Blood.
Coffee has been grown commercially in El Salvador since the 1850s – it was an important export for the country following the decline of the indigo industry and quickly became the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer. Yields were high and there were good relationships with import partners which meant El Salvador built a reputation for its efficiency and quality coffee. The coffee industry contributed towards some of the country’s most important infrastructure, though it also assisted in widening the gap between the nation’s rich and poor, with landowners maintaining political and economic control.
The industry continued to thrive throughout the 20th century until civil war hit in the 1980s which forced many farmers to abandon their land and coffee trees in order to escape the conflict. Whilst this saw a dramatic fall in production, causing many buyers to look elsewhere, there was one positive to come out of the war. During that period, many other Central American producing countries were undertaking research into higher yielding, disease resistant varietals to replace the lower yielding heirloom varietals. El Salvador managed to escape this process and has therefore held on to its fantastic Bourbon trees which are far superior in the cup when compared to coffees grown from varietals which have gone through a programme of cross breeding. Around ninety per cent of El Salvador’s coffee is also shade grown which contributes towards fantastic character and complexity and helps to maintain the country’s vast array of plants and wildlife.
El Salvador is a land of volcanoes providing a stunning and dramatic backdrop, fantastic altitude and mineral rich volcanic soil – the perfect combination for the production of outstanding coffee. We believe the country’s best coffee comes from the West and the Santa Ana region which sits amongst the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range.