As an export crop, coffee has long played a role in the history and economy of El Salvador. The coffee industry this year made good gains and showed additional growth of gourmet coffees raised with environmentally sensitive practices. Coffee exports for 2007-08 increased 24% to 994,538 60 kg. bags over the prior year according to the Salvadoran Coffee Council.
This month saw the Cup of Excellence Program awards which honors the best gourmet coffee beans coming out of El Salvador's coffee farms and cooperatives. This year the highest rated coffee came from La Ilusión farm, bordering on the Santa Ana volcano:
The farm is run minding environmentally friendly practices trying to maintain a balance with the surrounding ecosystem which is part of a natural fauna corridor, crucial for migratory and native birds. This is very important for Ernesto, since La Ilusión is neighboring one of the most important national parks in El Salvador known as Los Andes, nestled on the Santa Ana volcano and delimiting his farm with dense Pine and Cypress forest which also provides a special microclimate to his farm.A recent article describes how coffee farms around the Santa Ana/Ilamatepec volcano, damaged when it erupted in 2005, have come back better than ever:
The Ilamatepec volcano, also known as Santa Ana, caused significant crop losses when it erupted and thousands were evacuated, fleeing from a flood of boiling mud and water.This map shows the locations of winning farms with a group clustered around the folds of the volcano.
But farmers now growing their coffee near the crater of the still-active volcano say their yields are increasing quickly.
Several farmers who suffered damages from the eruption have been selected for the annual Cup of Excellence auction set for this week in San Salvador....
[O]nce trees recover foliage, growers often see record crops thanks to the nutrients added to the soil.
"This is part of nature's recovery process. (The ash) can help improve the soil and increase fertility," said Salvador Urrutia of Procafe, a coffee investigation foundation in the Central American country.