A Coffee Blog

Coffee from El Salvador | The complete guide

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America and borders Honduras and Guatemala.

The small country supplies some really good speciality coffee, despite the fact that coffee production was severely affected by civil war and political instability in the 80s. We tell here a little about El Salvador and its coffee production.

A small country with historically large production

Of course, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but nonetheless, the small country was the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer in 1880. If we jump to today, the country now produces less than half the amount of coffee they managed in 1880.

The country cannot compete with a country like Brazil, which has streamlined its coffee production and which can produce large quantities of coffee. Instead, El Salvador today is focused on growing good quality speciality coffee. 

The great decline in El Salvador’s coffee production was caused by a civil war that lasted from 1979-1992. Some of what was fought for was i.a. agriculture.

Coffee production and agriculture, in general, were reserved for a very small elite who forced workers away from their agriculture to take over the large lands themselves.

One of the results of the Civil War is that much of the agricultural land has been distributed back to many of the workers. Today, 95% of El Salvador’s coffee farmers grow their coffee on less than 20 acres. In comparison, an average Danish farm of approx. 66 hectares.

Coffee varieties of the special and upscale kind

In relation to the cultivation of coffee beans for speciality coffee, the Civil War has had a good influence on this. In the time around the Civil War, there were many of the countries in Central America replaced their coffee plants with new varieties that gave a greater yield of coffee berries.

But in El Salvador, this replacement never happened because of the Civil War. Therefore, their varieties of coffee plants are still the same as those imported into the country in the 19th century. These plants may not produce the same amount of coffee as newer varieties, but the taste and quality of the coffee are better. 

The most widely grown coffee in El Salvador is of the Bourbon variety, which is a variety of the Arabica variety. The bourbon coffee tree is known for producing coffee that is very sweet and balanced in taste and with mild acidity. Of other varieties, Pacas and Pacamara can be mentioned, both of which originated in El Salvador by the Bourbon variety. 

Although El Salvador is a small country, there are certain regions where coffee is grown, each with its own characteristics. I mention three below:


The region is named after the volcanic mountain range in western El Salvador, where coffee is grown at altitudes of 500-2300 meters. In 2019, 11 different coffees from the area scored over 87 on the Specialty Coffee Association’s scoring system, which goes up to 100.

The volcanoes make the soil incredibly fertile, and the region is the one with the largest coffee production in El Salvador. The most cultivated coffee variety here is Bourbon, but approx. a quarter of the production is made up of the Pacas variant.


This region is located in northwestern El Salvador and borders both Guatemala and Honduras. Like the previous region, it is also a mountain range, and coffee is grown here at an altitude of 1000-2000 meters.

Half of the coffee grown here is of the Pacas variety, while Bourbon makes up the second-largest portion and Pacamara the third largest. A region with several coffees that also scores high on SCA’s scoring system. 


In Tepaca-Chimaneca you will find the country’s third-largest coffee production, and the coffee is grown at between 500-2150 meters altitude. Again a region of high-scoring coffees.

Bourbon is the most widely grown variety, and Pacas make up just over a fifth of the cultivated coffee. The region consists of a mountain range and is located in the eastern part of the country. 

An exciting coffee country with exciting specialty coffee

In recent years, El Salvador has had a special focus on growing high-quality speciality coffee. The large and efficient production from before the Civil War is gone, but the coffee, on the other hand, has probably never been better.

Go in search of some exciting coffees in this country and possibly look for the country’s own coffee tree varieties, Pacas and Pacamara. 

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