Roast: Full City (4/7) (Medium)
Tasting Notes: Blueberry, Chocolate, Creamy, Redcurrant, Whiskey
Altitude: 1100 MASL
Variety: Bourbon, Pacas
Processing Method: Natural
This coffee is grown by the Urrutia Estate, the estate's first coffee tree was planted in 1875 by Mr. Juan Urrutia. Six generations later the farm is run by Enrique, Rene, and Gustavo, with their father, Gustavo, still involved as an advisor. Over the years they have placed in the finals of the Cup of Excellence 7 times as well as gaining accolades from trade bodies and national associations such as Exporter of the Year in 2015 and landing in the top 5 in 2017.
The farm spreads over 140 hectares and was recently awarded the Denomination of Origin (DO); an award given by the Salvadoran Coffee Council under the SCA standards to guarantee quality and characteristics of coffee from a geographical region from the Central part of El Salvador, including the Balsamo Quetazaltepeq Mountain Range and the San Salvador Volcano.
All coffee from this estate is 100% shade-grown and native trees are planted every year to prevent erosion. In 2020, the farm turned its hand to strawberry growing, an important step for them diversifying crops on the farm. It also helps to fund the renewal of their coffee trees, with a program of 22,800 new Bourbon trees being planted from the end of 2020. Unsurprisingly the farm is Rainforest Alliance certified and home to 120 species of migratory birds, 24 different species of mammals and 259 species of insects and 20-30% of the farm is natural forest.
This coffee is an excellent example of not only premium Salvadoran coffee but Central American coffee as a whole. With an excellent body, low acidity, and some strong tasting notes, this is a must-try coffee.
Coffee was first introduced to El Salvador in the early 19th century where it was only used domestically. However, by mid-century its commercial potential was obvious and the government introduced many legislations to promote the coffee industry, including; tax breaks for producers, exemption from military service for coffee workers, and elimination of export duties for new producers. As a result, the Salvadorian coffee industry boomed throughout the remainder of the century, and by the 1920's coffee accounted for 90% of the countries total exports.
This push continued well into the 20th century and by 1970 El Salvador was the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world which is astounding considering its size (≈12th the size of the UK and smaller than the Midlands). Around 1979, a cocktail of politics, overdependence on coffee for economic growth, guerrilla attacks, and natural disasters meant that investment in the countries coffee industry was hugely reduced. As a result, the industry stopped growing in El Salvador, and combined with a price fall of 35% in 1987 the industry plummeted. As of 2002, coffee trading only accounts for 3.5% of El Salvador's GNP and they account for less than 1% of global production.
Whilst El Salvador's coffee industry has not entirely recovered from the 80's civil war and has since struggled to compete with other regions' lower-priced coffee. This has allowed a niche market to emerge, offering premium arabica coffee that is 95% shade-grown, then expertly picked and milled by a skilled workforce. Farmers have aimed more at quality rather than quantity and this is very apparent in coffee from this region.