Origin Focus // El Salvador
November’s Roasters Choice Subscription featured the latest washed coffee from Joe Molina at Finca Bosque Lya in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
In this post we take a closer look at Salvadorean coffees, starting with an introduction to the amazing Finca Bosque Lya ...
As one of the very first farms we sourced from, Bosque Lya has a special place in our hearts. We’ve been buying coffee from Joe Molina since we started back in 2014; roasting his tasty bourbon coffees every year since.
This year’s crop was extra special, in February we were able to visit Bosque Lya to see the farm for ourselves and finally meet Joe and his team in person. Joe’s a veteran of the industry, a great raconteur and someone who knows pretty much everything there is to know about farming in this part of Central America.
Joe’s been growing coffee in El Salvador for over 40 years now, when we meet up at his place in Santa Ana his passion and enthusiasm are as strong as ever. We’re excited to get to Bosque Lya.
Soon we’re climbing into Joe’s pick up truck, I can’t help noticing an old Volkswagen sat next to it - the VW is in need of a little renovation but a classic all the same. Joe explains this is his old camper van, the same one he and his wife drove home from California in after both finishing university there in the 1980’s. Joe studied agronomy and as well as farming he’s now involved in teaching at the university in Santa Ana.
Bosque Lya is about half an hour’s drive away. We arrive and Joe’s in his element showing us around the farm. As you’d expect in El Salvador, the coffee trees are mainly shade-grown bourbon. As he navigates us around the slopes and paths, Joe’s a font of knowledge on everything from the flora and fauna to the varying growing conditions and micro climates experienced in the different pockets of land.
Bosque Lya is in an elevated position and the views around the farm are incredible. In the distance we can see the imposing Santa Ana; the largest volcano in the country. El Salvador is often referred to as the land of the volcanoes and there are over one hundred scattered across the landscape here; many are active, making the soil rich and fertile.
We have an amazing day at Bosque Lya.
As with most experiences in life it’s the people we meet along the way that provide the lasting memories - Joe Molina has been the perfect host.
Coffee Production in El Salvador
In Central America El Salvador has a nickname, ‘Pulgarcito’ - meaning ‘little thumb’. The nickname is a nod to the diminutive size of this coffee producing nation. It may be small but packed into this little country you’ll find some of the best farms in Latin America.
Bordered on the northeast by Honduras and the northwest by Guatemala, El Salvador’s coastline stretches for around 200 miles along the Pacific Ocean which is on the south side of the country.
While coffee production here has declined since the 1980s it's still a renowned speciality coffee origin and home to some of the world’s most sought-after varieties including the Pacas variety. Pacas was a natural and spontaneous mutation of Bourbon, first discovered in the Santa Ana Volcano region.
The harvest season here runs from December through to March, reaching its peak in January and February. El Salvador has a fantastic climate for growing coffee and especially for drying naturals and honeys; we love the all-round qualities that the coffees here display - they're genuine crowd pleasers.
Pictured above is the menu at Viva Espresso in San Salvador, proudly showing their range of Single Origins - all from different regions in El Salvador! It may be the smallest nation in Central America but there are still several recognised producing regions, including Ahuachapan, Chalatenango, La Libertad, Santa Ana, San Salvador, and Morazan.
The washed coffees we buy from Bosque Lya are milled by Borbollon at their washing station and dry mill in nearby Santa Ana. Borbollon work with a few other farms in the area and carry out a wide range of processes such as honeys, naturals, and experimental processes. As well as bourbon from Bosque Lya we also buy coffees from Jasal, a family run operation with several farms and one wet mill, also in the Santa Ana area.
Later in the trip we travel to La Laguna in Chalatenango to make some connections with some producers there who are working with Blue Harvest, a non profit organisation promoting regenerative farming in El Salvador.
It's been a long time coming but we're sure we'll be back in this part of Central America soon.