If you’re looking for delicious coffee, beans from El Salvador can be a great option. Fruity, citrusy, and sweetly acidic, this coffee is flavorful and aromatic. But with so many roasters, how do you find one that will send you great beans?
We’re here to make shopping for delicious coffee easier, with this list of the five best El Salvador coffee brands available in 2020.
We sampled each coffee and wrote a detailed review of it, looking closely at the flavor, freshness, price, origin, and sustainable certifications so you can be sure you’ll receive a delicious bag.
|Volcanica El Salvador|
|Teasia El Salvador||2lb||4.5/5|
|Cubico El Salvador||1lb||4.3/5|
|Las Lilas El Salvador||0.75lb||4.2/5|
Our overall favorite is Volcanica’s El Salvador Coffee. These single-origin medium-roast beans are aromatic, flavorful, and very fresh.
This coffee is sold in large 16-ounce bags and a choice of four grind sizes, including whole bean. It’s full-bodied and well-roasted, arriving very fresh. It’s grown above 3,000 feet in volcanic soil on a single El Salvador farm, the Santa Barbara Estate, and has Organic, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance certifications.
Volcanica seals its coffee bags immediately after roasting, so you can feel confident that you’ll receive fresh beans. If you don’t like the coffee you’re sent, the company offers a great 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Another good option is Larry’s Organic Fair Trade Whole Bean Coffee El Salvador Dali Blend, which is dark and sweet with many sustainable certifications.
Sold in 12-ounce bags, the El Salvador Dali Blend arrives fresh and aromatic, with notes of chocolate, caramel, and even marshmallows. The beans are slow-roasted to a consistent, though fairly dark, medium roast. Larry’s Coffee operates out of an eco-friendly office, and its beans are certified Organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, and Shade Grown.
This coffee is fairly pricey, especially given that it’s not single-origin. This coffee blends beans from El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Mexico, so it’s not going to give you the distinctive flavors of El Salvador’s coffee.
Teasia’s El Salvador Whole Bean Coffee is a less expensive option that offers interesting but not very fresh single-origin beans.
For this coffee, sold in large two-pound bags, Teasia uses the Bourbon variety of Arabica beans. They’re grown at 4,000 to 5,000 feet on a single farm, Finca Santa Isabel, and are wet-processed, producing clear, bright acidity. The beans are small-batch roasted to a medium level.
The downside of this brand is that the beans often don’t arrive very fresh. The bags are printed with the roast date and the roaster’s name, but we found that these dates were often multiple months in the past. Because the coffee isn’t fresh, the flavor isn’t as strong, and the beans aren’t very aromatic.
The El Salvador Ground Coffee from Cubico consists of single-origin, medium-roast beans that unfortunately don’t arrive very fresh.
This coffee, which is sold at a reasonable price in 12-ounce bags, is grown in volcanic soil at 4,000 to 5,000 feet of elevation. The beans are Red Bourbon Arabica and have nutty, citrusy flavors that are also slightly sweet. There’s a fun gift box option that includes additional information about the beans.
This ground coffee doesn’t arrive as fresh as we would like. The bags are printed with the roast date and roaster name, but we found that they may arrive a month or two late. It’s not very aromatic and the flavors are somewhat dull.
The Las Lilas Chocolate & Light Acidity El Salvador Coffee is our least favorite brand. This single-origin dark roast coffee is bold and flavorful but not very interesting.
Sold in 12-ounce bags at a fairly low price, this coffee is grown at an elevation of 4,600 feet at a farm called El Balsamo in El Salvador’s Quezaltepec Mountain Range. It’s a mixture of Red Bourbon and Typica beans, both of which are Arabica varieties.
We found that the oily dark roast didn’t complement El Salvador’s unique coffee flavors as well. The taste is somewhat chocolatey but not very complex.
You’ve seen our list of the five best El Salvador coffee brands. But how much do you know about El Salvador’s coffee? Keep reading for our guide to the history, flavors, and varieties.
Farmers in El Salvador first started growing coffee in the 1800s. It quickly became an important part of the Central American country’s economy, funding infrastructure and encouraging development. How important? Just before the Great Depression, coffee made up an impressive 90% of El Salvador’s exports, and as late as 1988, that number was still 50%.
Coffee is so important to El Salvador that its citizens call it “el grano de oro,” or “the grain of gold.” Though coffee growing in El Salvador has declined in recent years, there are still quite a few great companies exporting delicious beans.
El Salvador, which is located between Guatemala and Honduras, is known for its nutrient-dense volcanic soil and fairly high altitudes. Most of its coffee is grown between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, meaning it qualifies as Strictly High-Grown (SHG) or Strictly Hard-Bean (SHB). This high altitude results in slower-growing but dense and flavorful beans. The harvest period runs from October to March.
The best-known varieties of El Salvador’s coffee are Bourbon and Pacamara, both of which are members of the high-quality Arabica family. Bourbon coffee beans are larger and less dense, with gentle but complex flavor. Pacamara beans are a more recent invention, a cross between two other varieties, with complex and fruity flavors and strong aromas.
So what does coffee from El Salvador taste like? These beans are known for their sweet, fruity flavors, with strong notes of citrus and chocolate. Fresh beans will have complex aromas with hints of spices and flowers. The processing, which typically consists of washing and sun-drying the beans, results in bright, sweet acidity and clear flavor. El Salvador coffee is particularly known for its full body.
El Salvador’s coffee is softer and less acidic than many other Central American coffees, making it a good choice if you’re sensitive to acid.
As with all coffee, whole bean is the gold standard. This is because coffee beans start to lose flavor within 15 minutes of being ground. If you’re willing to grind your beans at home, you’ll be rewarded with more flavorful, aromatic coffee. You’ll want to grind the amount you need just before brewing. If you don’t have a grinder or would like to upgrade, take a look at our guide to the best burr grinders or learn the difference between manual and electric grinders.
If you prefer not to grind at home, you may want to look for a brand that sells pre-ground coffee. Many brands offer a range of grind sizes, so you’ll want to buy the size that corresponds to your favorite brewing method.
Most of our favorite brands roast their beans to a medium, or city, level. This complements the gentle, complex flavors of the beans well, giving them sweet caramel notes without burning out the more delicate tastes.
El Salvador is now a major producer of Fair Trade coffee, which promises to pay fair prices and protect the environment at the same time. You can also find coffee with certifications like Organic, Shade Grown, and Rainforest Alliance. If you’re interested in sustainability, look for the seals on the bags of coffee.
What’s the bottom line? Our favorite brand is Volcanica’s El Salvador Coffee, a flavorful, single-origin coffee that’s sustainable and backed by a great satisfaction guarantee. Our runner-up is Larry’s Organic Fair Trade Whole Bean Coffee El Salvador Dali Blend, which is a dark, sweet, and well-roasted blend of Central and South American beans.
There are so many great coffee beans out there, and El Salvador’s offerings are particularly tempting. But when you purchase coffee online, you want to feel confident that it will arrive flavorful, aromatic, and fresh. We hope this list of our five favorite El Salvador coffee brands, complete with comprehensive reviews and a detailed guide to the country’s unique coffee, helps you find your new favorite beans. Enjoy your El Salvadorian coffee!
Featured image credit: Teasia Coffee El Salvador, Amazon
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