Departments: Ahuachapán, Sonsonate, Santa Ana
Harvest period: October to April
Highest altitude: 2365 meters
Lowest altitude: 600 meters
Least Precipitation: 1,800 mm
Most Precipitation: 2,300 mm
Highest Temperature: 84.2°F
Lowest Temperature: 53.6°F
Coffee Varieties: Borbón (51.8%), Arabica-Pacas (22.5%), others (25.7%)
Region overview: This region includes the departments of Ahuachapán, Santa Ana and the eastern part of Sonsonate. It is the region with the highest concentration of coffee plantations in El Salvador. At least, there are 30 coffee-producing municipalities in these three departments, the most important are: Apaneca, Ataco, Atiquizaya, Tacuba, San Pedro Puxtla, Jujutla Chalchuapa, Santa Ana, Coatepeque, El Congo, Candelaria de la Frontera, San Sebastian, Salitrillo, Izalco, Nahuizalco, Juayúa, Santa Catarina Masahuat y Salcoatitán.
Also known as the “Coffee Golden Belt”, it has been widely recognized for many years by Master Testers in the industry. Historically, the “Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range” has been recognized as the introduction of coffee for the first time in El Salvador. The earliest plantations were located in Ahuachapán, and then extended to Santa Ana, Sonsonate and later to the rest of the coffee regions. The first review about coffee production in El Salvador was written in 1750 by a Dutch Consul, who wrote about an Ahuachapan farm that was cultivating coffee.
Coffee…a priceless red colored grain on earth
Western departments were pioneers in coffee production. This region is still the most important coffee-production regions producing over 50% of the total production of coffee in the country. Santa Ana continues to be regarded as a coffee-producing city. In the 1860's, Santa Ana produced approximately 32,000 quintals of coffee; which represented almost a third of the country´s total coffee output. However, not long before 1881, Santa Ana reached 175,000 quintals.
Slowly, the coffee production movement permeated each western department. Ahuachapán, for instance, had Ataco as its main coffee-producing town before 1876, with approximately 8,000 quintals; then Atiquizaya, with an output of 5,000 quintals. However, Apaneca was not considered among the key towns, since it only hosted 33 coffee farms before 1866.
Even though coffee was the main economic activity in Sonsonate, this department produced less coffee than its western neighbors. Before 1866, all of Sonsonate´s output reached 5,000 quintals, representing only a third of Santa Ana´s production. Juayúa was one of the most important municipalities in coffee production: one out of five families cultivated coffee.
Consejo Salvadoreño del Café