After ions of eruptions, the soil on the sides of some volcanoes becomes very fertile ground. When this fertile ground is combined with the proper altitude, it’s possible to grow coffee. El Salvador grows some of the world’s best coffee and it is an important economic activity for the country. Today we visited a coffee company that both grows coffee and processes the beans for market. Coffee “cherries” above are ready for picking. The coffee is picked by hand so pickers can differentiate between coffee beans that are ready for harvest (red ones) and those that are not (green or yellow ones).
After the red husk part is removed, the coffee beans dry in the sun for 24 hours before processing begins. Then, the beans are washed, fermented, and moved into the yard for drying.
Once in the yard and spread thinly, workers rack the beans every 30 minutes to ensure even drying. It is very hot work in the sun.
After it has dried to a relative humidity of 12 percent, it is brought into the warehouse in 100 pound bags until a buyer buys it. At that point, the last layer of fibre that protects the bean is removed, and in some cases the beans are roasted. Roasting the beans gives coffee the familiar brown colour and aroma that so many folks enjoy.
At the end of our coffee tour, we got to enjoy a cup of coffee produced entirely on the property and then headed off to another volcanic lands experience: hot springs. We visited the Santa Teresa Thermal Pools and enjoyed a soak in guilt-free hot water. The sulphur infused water helped soak away any soreness from yesterday’s huge descent into Boqueron’s crater.
On the way out of the hot springs, we stopped to observe, Central America’s largest geyser and marvelled at what happens in the earth below our feet. It was a fine day combining two of El Salvador’s volcanic greats, coffee and hot water. And tomorrow in true Canadian fashion, we’re climbing two volcanoes…a true double double.