The first coffee plants reached and were disseminated in El Salvador circa 1740 by French Martinique. In principle cultivation was reserved exclusively to satisfy domestic consumption, but its economic potential became soon apparent and the government incentivized its production. Major interventions were carried out at legislative level through tax exemption for producers, exemption from military service for workers and the elimination of the duty for new growers. The large profits from coffee cultivation together with the slump of demand for Indigofera (up until then the raw material sustaining the Salvadorian economy), contributed to the success of mass diffusion of plantations in the country. In 1880, coffee eventually became the main raw material exported by Salvador. Between 1880 and 1912, coffee exports increased by 1100% and represented 90% of total exports between 1920 and 1930; this period was in fact called the “Coffee Republic”.
Contrary to Guatemala and Costa Rica, the Salvadorian coffee industry did not benefit from external financial or technical support. Coffee cultivation thus became exclusive to an aristocratic oligarchy, which over time expanded its sphere of influence to a political and military level, to the detriment of the workers who over timed evolved into an agricultural proletariat employed by the coffee barons.
Therefore, the Salvadorian economy more than any other Central American country, rested upon the coffee sector. The enormous profits deriving henceforth in the period of productive boom facilitated the creation of important investment, especially in infrastructure. However, this heavy dependence generated a boomerang effect in times of strong crisis price-wise, which hit this sector in the 1900s. The effects were devastating and led to the popular revolt of 1932, known as “The Killing” in light of the victim count, followed by civil war in 1980. These events deterred new investment and inevitably led to a collapse in terms of production, tumbling from the 4th position worldwide in 1979 to 14th position nowadays, constituting 3.5% of GDP.
ITZALCO COFFEE ASSOCIATION
Between 1994 and 1997 the European Community and CSC (Salvadorian Coffee Council) gave birth to the Itzalco project, an association of producers and exporters whose goal is to promote Salvador´s specialist coffee. The Itzalco Brand stands for excellence with strict quality standards and cultivated in the shade, fully respecting the surrounding environment.
● Apaneca-Ilamatepec – 600 to 2300 above sea level AMSL
● El Balsamo – 500 to 1900 above sea level AMSL
● Tecapa – 500 to 2100 above sea level AMSL
● Chichonotepec – 500 to 1000 above sea level AMSL
● Alotepec Metapan – 1000 to 2100 above sea level AMSL