Thanks to the connection through a dear friend, Dean Stevens, we have the opportunity to travel to a small mountaintop community in El Salvador to meet the growers of Origins coffee!
Not long ago, El Salvador was torn apart by civil war. One percent of the population (about 15 rich families) controlled almost all the wealth and land of the small nation. There was a revolution for change by the 99%. The 1% was ruthless, murdering 70,000 people over twelve years and driving 1 million refugees out of the country. Struck by the injustices of this war, Dean Stevens traveled to the mountaintop villages in northern El Salvador, close to the border of Honduras, and fell in love with the people and the land.
We can understand why. Together we hiked up to El Higueral, a village of about 200 people who dwell in the earthen homes, growing corn on the steep mountain slopes and coffee in the forest understory. The people here are beautiful – simple, grateful, hardworking and resilient. In 1980, this village was burned to the ground and about 100 people were massacred by the government forces. Many more fled to hide in the mountains. The people returned to rebuild, and with the help of a sister city in Massachusetts, now have a schoolhouse, community building, church and clean water.
We sisters enjoyed the forests surrounding the village during the days, helping out with a family’s coffee harvest. Under the shade of goliath mango trees, and broad banana leaves, we plucked deep red berries off the coffee plants and filled our woven baskets.
Continuing our coffee adventure, we hiked for three hours up to a neighboring mountaintop to the smaller village of Izotalillo. The rise in elevation brought cooler air under pine trees, sweet relief from the sweltering heat. Here we experienced the next part of coffee processing – the plump red berries are depulped, and inner bean soaked in water for a short fermentation.
The beans are dried in the sun, outer skins are removed, then roasted. We'll bring our beans home green to be roasted at Stagecoach Coffee!
It feels good to offer these delicious beans to our hometown, knowing that this meaningful collaboration is making a big difference to the hardworking families of Izotalillo!