Hola from El Salvador!

Question, what’s even better than visiting a beautiful coffee farm?

The people you meet? Well it’s true. They were pretty great. We hiked through the coffee plants, down a steep grade to a beautiful waterfall. And shockingly only José and I bothered to take home soil samples by gracefully falling down the hill.

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Here we are (judges from the upcoming El Salvador National Barista Championship) which starts tomorrow, with local coffee farmers from Urrutia’s Estate Coffee.

Is it the amazing scenery? From the top of this farm, just a few minutes outside of the bustling capital of San Salvador, we could see across wooded mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean some forty-five miles away.

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Ok, so you can’t see the ocean in the picture above, but you get a sense of how lovely the bucolic land is.

Is it catching sight of a few coffee cherries ripening in the sun?

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Well, yeah, all of those things are great. But what really set this farm apart from any other one I’ve visited (besides the fact that you can drive on a paved road all the way there) is a unique partnership Urrutia’s has with a local non-profit. You see El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America, and as such, native habitat is rapidly disappearing and local wildlife has been losing ground literally all over, forced out of many of its normal grounds. So at this coffee farm, Finca San Ernesto, they’ve set up a wildlife rehabilitation center.

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For animals that can be released back into the wild, they give them a home and provide for them until they can find a good location (sometimes on the grounds of the finca itself) for the animals to be released.

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Other animals, however, like the parrot and white-faced monkey above, have nowhere left in the wild to live, so they are kept at the farm in special habitats where they can at least live in peace. It was certainly sad to think of how much wildlife has been lost and staggering to realize how many changes we humans must make in our lives and in our use of resources if we are to preserve what wilds parts of the earth remain, but it’s also refreshing to witness yet more concerned coffee professionals working on sustainability from another perspective. It was terrific to see, and I hope they continue their efforts with success.

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