Nestled within the heart of Central America lies the lush and vibrant coffee-growing region of El Salvador's Alotepec-Metapan mountain range. Pronounced "ah-lo-teh-pehk meh-tah-pahn," this region is located in the northwestern part of the country and is characterized by its high altitudes, ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 meters above sea level. An interesting fact about the Alotepec-Metapan range is that it forms part of the larger Apaneca-Ilamatepec coffee region, which has been recognized for its exceptional coffee quality by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).
Coffee has been cultivated in the Alotepec-Metapan mountain range since the late 19th century. The region's rich volcanic soil, temperate climate, and high altitudes create ideal conditions for growing high-quality Arabica coffee beans. Over the years, coffee cultivation has become an essential part of the region's economy and has played a significant role in shaping its social and cultural fabric. Today, the Alotepec-Metapan range is home to numerous small and medium-sized coffee farms that continue to produce exceptional specialty coffees.
Within the Alotepec-Metapan region, the majority of coffee farms employ traditional, eco-friendly, and sustainable farming practices. This often includes shade-grown coffee, which promotes biodiversity and helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Additionally, many farmers use organic fertilizers, such as compost and worm castings, to nourish their coffee plants and improve the quality of the beans.In terms of processing, the most common method employed in El Salvador, including the Alotepec-Metapan region, is the washed (wet) process. This involves depulping the coffee cherries to remove the outer skin and mucilage, followed by fermentation in water tanks to break down any remaining mucilage. The beans are then washed to remove any leftover residue before being laid out to dry on patios or raised beds. This method typically results in a clean and bright cup profile, which is characteristic of El Salvadoran coffee.
Coffees from the Alotepec-Metapan mountain range are known for their bright acidity, medium body, and balanced flavor profile. Tasting notes often include flavors of citrus, such as lemon or orange, as well as floral and fruity notes like jasmine, red apple, and apricot. Some coffees may also exhibit hints of caramel, chocolate, or nuts, adding to the overall complexity and depth of flavor. The clean, bright, and nuanced characteristics of Alotepec-Metapan coffees make them highly sought after by specialty coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike.
While many talented farmers and producers contribute to the exceptional quality of coffee in the Alotepec-Metapan region, a few notable farms include Finca El Carmen, Finca Santa Elena, and Finca Las Mercedes. These farms have gained recognition for their dedication to sustainable farming practices, community engagement, and the production of high-quality specialty coffees.As you explore the diverse and captivating world of specialty coffee, the Alotepec-Metapan mountain range of El Salvador is a region not to be overlooked. With its rich history, eco-friendly farming practices, and unique, vibrant flavors, coffees from this region offer a truly exceptional experience for coffee lovers everywhere.