Bringing Back the Carmen
El Carmen lies in the heart of El Salvador’s main ‘protected highway’ of forest, a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor System that stretches all the way from Mexico down to Panama. In El Salvador, where more than 80% of the country’s coffee is produced under shade, this eco-system is based mainly in the coffee forest. For this reason, coffee farms such as El Carmen play a vital role as a sanctuary for hundreds of the migratory and native bird species found in this part of the world.
Agustin Alfaro...followed in his father’s footsteps and established El Carmen as one of El Salvador’s leading exporters.
The estate was founded in the middle of the 19th century when Antonio José Alfaro acquired a plot of land near the village of Ataco—meaning ‘Site of Elevated Springs’ in the indigenous Nahuatl language—where he started to produce coffee. His son, Agustin Alfaro, founder of the Salvadoran National Coffee Company, followed in his father’s footsteps and established El Carmen as one of El Salvador’s leading exporters. His efforts were continued by Antonio Alfaro, head of the third generation of this coffee family and are carried through today by Fernando Alfaro, the fourth generation of his family to farm coffee. Fernando has hosted me each time I have visited El Salvador in one of the extra rooms of the El Carmen Hacienda. It feels a bit like paradise there and being able to taste tables and tables of coffees from the various farms that make up the estate is an added treat. Another perk is that he has built a zip line, a high ropes course, and even has go carts that can race on the drying drying patio off season (I was there during harvest, so I only got to zip line and do the ropes). We love coming back each year to coffee from this lovely gem in the heart of the El Salvador specialty region.