Top 7 Best El Salvador Coffee Bean Brands Reviewed

Do you want to try something different than what you’re used to?

Drinking the same old coffee can get boring, so we love to expand our knowledge of coffee sourced from the best growing regions of the world. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Their coffee culture and production are, by comparison, huge.

There are numerous El Salvador coffee brands trying to outpick, outroast, and outsell the competition. We decided to narrow it down to our Top-7 to give you a taste of what you can expect when you dive headfirst into El Salvador.

Why El Salvador Coffee is Special

Not every coffee-growing country can boast that their coffee is grown on volcanoes. There’s something magical about that concept because volcanoes can be so destructive when they go off, but thanks to the volcanic soil, agriculture can flourish.

El Salvador’s unique climate, soil and geography make the perfect nutrient-dense beans that have had time to mature. Although most coffee beans aren’t labeled Organic or Certified Organic, they are grown in organic conditions. The soil is so rich that multiple varieties of coffee can be cultivated.

The high altitude growing operations have adopted new technologies over the years to maximize yield and produce the best beans.

Climate

El Salvador has a tropical climate with an average altitude of almost 2,000 ft. The mountainous regions where coffee grows have moderate temperatures. Plants are grown in the shade and don’t absorb as much water because of the steep slopes. This is both a blessing and a curse because while plants are nutrient-dense, they become susceptible to diseases like leaf rust.

Cultivation

Most growers wash their beans mechanically. In this process, the outer fruit eventually soaks up more water than it can handle and starts to fall off. The beans are then dried in the sun to both preserve and add new flavors.

Coffee Production in El Salvador

Coffee was first introduced to El Salvador in the early 1800s. Coffee exports peaked 200 years later in the 1980s, and a series of unfortunate events have prevented the country from piercing the top-10 list of coffee-producing countries.

Years of coffee cultivation had a serious toll on the environment, and due to the competition in the global coffee market, the country couldn’t match the prices. Today, coffee still accounts for a large portion of the GDP. Recently, El Salvador took steps to prevent child labor on coffee farms by passing several laws. These actions by the government show that they’re not all about money. They value their people.

The 7 Best El Salvador Coffee Beans Review - Our Picks

Even though it’s small, El Salvador produces amazing specialty coffee at affordable prices. Our picks are based on overall quality, positive reviews and

Volcanica Coffee El Salvador Peaberry Coffee

Volcanica Coffee El Salvador Peaberry Coffee

  • Region: Unknown
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole Beans (1 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Peaberry with chocolate, nutty, and floral notes
  • Certifications: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance

This medium-roast peaberry coffee will excite you with its nutty and floral notes. It’s a single-origin 100% Arabica, and you’ll get a hint of how it will taste as soon as you pop open the bag.

Volcanica is a brand that has been around since 2004, but they’ve grown fast. They currently sell 100+ different coffees. Their mantra is to fresh-roast their beans for shipment. They don’t keep a large stock around to ensure you get the finest gourmet coffee fresh in your cup. As the name suggests, Volcanica sells coffee from the best coffee-producing volcanic regions in the world.

This aromatic El Salvador Peaberry is processed by washing and then sun-dried. Reviewers praise this coffee for being very smooth and flavorful — no excessive acidity or bitterness. You can brew this coffee any way you want, but French Press seems to be a popular method.

Peaberry is rare, and this particular peaberry rivals that of the famous Tanzanian and Ethiopian berries.

Koffee Cartel Santa Ana Coffee

Koffee Cartel Santa Ana Coffee

  • Region: Santa Ana
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Whole bean (1 lb and 2 lb bag), ground (1lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Red Bourbon variety, nutty, chocolate, and floral notes
  • Certifications: Unknown

The name of the brand may be off-putting to some, and frankly, we’re not sure it’s the best name for a company looking to make coffee better. Nevertheless, the brand makes up for in its actions.

Koffee Cartel roasts in micro-batches to preserve the greatest amount of flavor and freshness. Their corporate, social, and environmental responsibility are on point. They get involved in the communities they work under. The company takes a percentage of all sales and donates it to local villages to bring clean water and healthcare to rural areas.

Reviewers note that these El Salvador coffee beans have a complex flavor profile that hits you with a bold punch at the beginning and smooths out at the finish. It has a dark chocolate nutty taste, which intensifies the flavors when coupled with the dark roast.

Koffee Cartel says they work directly with coffee farmers in El Salvador that handpick the beans, and you can tell by the feedback that it’s true. The beans come fresh and once you open the bag, it’ll be hard to stop inhaling the aroma.

Teasia San Miguel Coffee

Teasia San Miguel Coffee

  • Region: San Miguel
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean (2 lb, 4 lb (Two 2 lb bags) and 5 lb)
  • Flavor notes: Bourbon variety, sweet and fruity
  • Certifications: Unknown

Teasia will tease you with this coffee until you finally try it. Teasia takes pride in roasting the best El Salvadorian coffee. It is known that the best coffee comes from areas of the world with a high altitude. Teasia sources only from a single origin on farms that grow coffee at 4,000-5,300 ft.

Teasia’s San Miguel coffee comes from a volcanic region. This gives the coffee beans a smoother, less acidic taste full of popping flavor notes. Depending on how you brew your coffee, you’ll notice a complex flavor profile of sweet, fruity and floral notes. The beans are washed and sun dried and only roasted to order.

Teasia is committed to making sure every bag of coffee is as fresh as possible. They roast and ship within 24 hours of you placing your order. They’re also committed to making the world a better place. A percentage of sales go to charities that work in the education, healthcare and environment sectors.

Buffalo Buck's Coffee Pacamara Coffee

Buffalo Buck's Coffee Pacamara Coffee

  • Region: Unknown
  • Type of roast: Vienna (dark)
  • Form: Whole bean, ground (1 lb+)
  • Flavor notes: Pacamara variety, smoky, dark chocolate
  • Certifications: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified

Buffalo Buck’s is a relatively unknown name in the coffee world. Their website seems a bit dated, but Amazon reviews show their coffee is still in demand. Like most picks on our list, Buffalo Buck’s aims to deliver a farm-to-cup experience that will delight you at any time of day.

These beans will teleport you to lush El Salvador, where the mountains and volcanoes rise to the ideal heights needed to produce exceptional coffee. Buffalo Buck’s Reserve Selection of handpicked Pacamara beans are very large, and when roasted with Buffalo Buck’s dark roasting style, every cup will be smooth and bold.

Buffalo Buck’s roasts beans to order in small batches. When you let fresh-roasted coffee sit for a few months it’s no longer fresh, affecting the taste. The company does custom orders, so if you’d like a different size bag, they can cater to your needs.

Reviewers say this coffee may be hit or miss for some folks. We’d recommend this coffee for people who like subtle, smoky flavors.

Topeca Coffee El Manzano Coffee

Topeca Coffee El Manzano Coffee

  • Region: El Manzano farm (Santa Ana region)
  • Type of roast: Medium-light
  • Form: Whole bean, ground (French Press, Drip, Pour Over, Espresso) in 12 oz and 2 lb bag
  • Flavor notes: Red Bourbon variety, smoky, nutty and sweet
  • Certifications: Seed-to-cup, Rainforest Alliance Certified

Our #5 pick for the best El Salvador coffee beans is Topeca. Topeca roasts coffee to order in small matches and mostly grows bourbon trees but has diversified the coffee varieties grown on their farms over the past 15 years. Most of Topeca’s operations are done locally in El Salvador and shipped worldwide.

The coffee grown on Topeca’s farms grows at a high altitude of up to 5,000 ft. After handpicking the ripest beans and washing and drying them in a modern production facility, they’re light-to-medium roasted. By limiting the roast level, Topeca succeeded in bringing out the best in these hearty beans.

In addition to their standard 100% Manzano, Topeca also has a special reserve Manzano Natural coffee. The El Salvador coffee beans they use are ideally ripe and produce a fruitier flavor. The roast in the Manzano Natural is lighter than the regular Manzano.

We found reviews to be sparse; however, the available ones speak highly of the sweet aroma and taste of Topeca Manzano coffee.

Cubico Coffee Santa Maria Coffee

Cubico Coffee Santa Maria Coffee

  • Region: Santa Maria farm (Mejicanos region)
  • Type of roast: City (medium)
  • Form: Ground (12 oz and 1 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, fruity
  • Certifications: Rainforest Alliance Certified

Cubico's roots in the coffee world date back to the late 1800s. That means they’ve seen the incredible transformation of the industrial era and its effect on how people consume coffee. Cubico roasts their beans within a tight timeframe to ensure you get a smooth, fresh cup of coffee.

Cubico El Salvador is pre-ground, and you may have reservations about buying it. It’s true that whole bean, fresh-ground is the best, but this coffee is perfect for people that don’t want to fuss around with grinders. It’s unclear from the website and description if the bag is resealable.

Cubico’s El Salvador coffee grows at a high altitude on the famous Santa Maria farm. You’ll notice a sweet, fruity profile when you brew your first cup. Every cup after that will match it in flavor complexity. The coffee is smooth with slightly sweet, fruity notes.

This coffee is touted as being bright in flavor and aroma, and reviewers note that while it’s somewhat expensive, it’s worth it.

Rhoad Roast Coffee – Coffee From El Salvador

Rhoad Roast Coffee – Coffee From El Salvador

  • Region: Santa Maria farm (Mejicanos region)
  • Type of roast: Unroasted, light, medium and dark roast
  • Form: Whole bean (2.5 lb, 5 lb, 10 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, citrus
  • Certifications: Rainforest Alliance Certified

Rhoad coffee rounds out our Top-7 because of how versatile their beans are. The company roasts the full spectrum from light to dark, and even offers unroasted beans for sale, so you can take a crack at roasting your own.

The coffee is sourced from the Santa Maria and Las Mercedes farms, it’s 100% Arabica and grows at an altitude of around 4,000 ft. The beans aren’t Fair Trade but are harvested according to Rainforest Alliance guidelines.

Rhoad coffee brews a deeply sweet, chocolatey cup of coffee. It’s full-bodied and gives off light citrus notes. Reviewers say the flavor from these unassuming beans is out of this world.

Rhoad roasts in small batches within 24 hours of shipping to get fresh-roasted coffee to your door.

Best Coffee-growing Regions in El Salvador

The average altitude in El Salvador is nearly 2,000 ft! That means coffee can grow anywhere. Most coffee is shade-grown on volcanic and mountainous areas, and the biggest coffee-producing regions are near the capital, San Salvador, and the Santa Ana and San Miguel regions.

San Salvador Region

The surrounding mountain range of the capital of San Salvador has fertile volcanic soils that produce great coffee.

Santa Ana Region

In the 20th century, Santa Ana was thriving thanks to coffee. But many people were forced to move away from this agriculturally-important land due to political problems. Santa Ana is home to the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range and some of the most well-known coffee arms in El Salvador.

San Miguel Region

The lush region of San Miguel includes the San Miguel volcano, which serves as the backdrop for producing high-altitude coffee.

Coffee Varieties Grown in El Salvador

El Salvador is home to a large variety of coffee species. Here are six of the most famous.

  1. Bourbon: Word association would tell us this coffee tastes like Bourbon Whiskey, but (unfortunately) it doesn’t. The name comes from the royal Bourbons, a French dynasty dating back to 1272. The French took the coffee from Yemen and grew it on Bourbon Island (now Réunion, an island off the east coast of Africa). French missionaries eventually came to South America, and from there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to Central America.
  2. Pacas: Technically, Pacas beans are a mutated variety of Bourbon. The beans have a genetic mutation that causes them to grow small in size (which coffee aficionados love). Originally produced in the Santa Ana region, this variety now makes up ¼ of El Salvador’s coffee production.
  3. Geisha: Also known as Panamanian Geisha, this variety loves altitude. The first records of this species show that it originates in Ethiopia, the legendary “home” of coffee.
  4. Pacamara: Research shows the genetics of these beans are a cross between Pacas and Maragogipe. The beans are very large, and plants grow at heights of up to 5,300 ft.
  5. Caturra: Happens to be another mutated species of Bourbon. The berries are smaller in size, and the plants have a unique love of tight spaces, meaning they have great yield potential.
  6. Catuai: Not sure how to pronounce this one, but it’s a cross between Mundo Novo and Caturra. The plants are hardy and can be densely planted. The downside is that the plant is susceptible to coffee leaf rust.

For more information on coffee varieties in El Salvador, check out the World Coffee Research page.

El Salvador Coffee Taste Profile

The top brands take great care in sorting their beans by size and quality, ensuring the result is great coffee. Coffee varies in flavor depending on the region, the type of beans and the roast.

Most coffees will be a combination of sweet, savory and fruity. For example, Pacamara coffee beans are said to have a sweet, citrus and chocolate-orange flavor. Overall, El Salvador coffee doesn’t have a distinct bitterness and matches the sweet notes with slight acidic notes.

Final Thoughts

Coffee from El Salvador is unlike any other on Earth. Owing to the special climate and geography, the seemingly smallest country in Central America is a big name in coffee. At times, the country has seen severe economic and political turmoil, which takes away from its potential. Currently, it’s listed as the 19th top exporter in the world.

For over 100 years, farmers in El Salvador have perfected growing techniques, choosing the best regions based on years of experience. For the most part, the best coffee is grown on and around volcanic and mountainous areas.

Don’t sleep on El Salvador coffee — it’s flavorful, full-bodied and smooth as silk. We highly recommend trying it.

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/04/04

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

FAQ