EL SALVADOR, EL PITAL
JANUARY 23, 2020 | Written by Lars Pilengrim
El Salvador is the country where Lykke first saw daylight and from where our whole endeavor has developed. Where romantic ideas of farming coffee could nurture into a unique business plan, ready to shake the industry.
The country is one of the smallest in Latin America, situated in between Guatemala in the west, Honduras to the north and Nicaragua to the south. And facing the Pacific Ocean.
Famous for its tasty Papusas (cheese-stuffed corn flatbreads, handmade to order), beautiful surf spots and a vast and interesting history of coffee production. And regardless of its size as a country, El Salvadorian coffee is big on the coffee radar.
Volcanic soils and ideal microclimates has helped developed the scene ever since families first started planting coffee here in the mid-1800s.
In its glory days, El Salvador coffee had an annual production of over 5 million bags (69 kg each). However, El Salvador is also a country that has lately been struck hard by climate change. Unpredictable seasons of rain and drought. And simultaneously the market price for coffee has been down to some of its lowest in history. All in all creating unbearable situations for coffee farmers around the country.
So, at a time when coffee is on an obvious decline and where abandoned farms get more and more prominent day by day, one could really wonder why we would invest to establish a coffee farm in the country.
But that is just our reason. Lykkes' sole ambition is to be a beacon for change.Where we know that well-maintained farms, based on climate-smart agriculture and working together with nature – will help counteract more devastating changes in climate. And where added value for farmers in increased quality and quantity will help improve livelihoods.
”We are able to spread our knowledge and best practices in growing coffee throughout the mountain range”
Our farm, El Pital is located on the slopes of the highest mountain with the same name. Just 20 kilometers from the border to Honduras.
Here we are surrounded by farmers growing everything from avocado and coffee to tomatoes and lettuce.
Once you enter our farm you do so from above, from just north of 2.000 meters elevation. On a clear day, the view is just beautiful. Guatemala will be visible in the far back with some of the famous Salvadorian volcanoes in front.
So far we have planted 12 hectares of coffee. With a good mix of varieties split into 6 different lots. The highest elevation trees are planted just by the entrance to the farm, and then linger all the way down the hill to around 1.650 meters above sea level.
The trees are young and need all the attention and care they can get. And that’s where our agronomist Rafael and our foreman at the farm, Orlando plays a vital role. By their skilled hands, these trees will begin producing coffee in the next coming years.
However, In some parts of the farm we found old, deserted coffee trees of the Typica and Bourbon varieties. And with these we’ve started a program to revitalize them and help us mark the very first coffee harvested at our beloved El Pital.
Through our constant presence in the region, we have already gotten to know some of our coffee producing neighbors. And with the farm as a base, we are able to spread our knowledge and best practices in growing coffee throughout the mountain range.
We help to add value to their produce, by assisting at their farms and processing their coffee cherries into high-end specialty coffee. And by also giving farmers a window into the international market, and the cups of appreciating consumers.