Las Marias 93

Fast facts

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Founded in 1993
Comprised of 63 members
Canton Las Marias, Usulutan
Organic; FLO 600-900 meters above sea level
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Arabica – Bourbon, Pacas  Mild acidity, full body w/ earthy, spice and cocoa flavors

Las Marias 93 is one of the positive and constructive results of the negotiated 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords – ending decades of brutal civil war in El Salvador. As a part of these accords, this group of former combatants was able to purchase a piece of land in 1993 and Las Maria 93 cooperative was formed to help their communities move beyond their turbulent past. With a commitment to organic and sustainable farming, today 39 of their members are included in the Organic Program. The remaining members do not use chemicals in their production, but have not yet been organic certified. Their objective is to include all members in intensive organic practices.

Las Marias 93 facilities include an ecological wet processor, drying patios and an industrial dry processor. They have also installed “eco-depulping machines” – which have reduced their water consumption from 124 gallons to 38 gallons per quintal and has reduced their electrical consumption by half; created a central organic compost production site; and maintain a nursery with a growing capacity of up to 25,000 coffee trees. The trees were purchased by the National Coffee Council to be distributed to coffee growers across the country as a program to revitalize productivity in El Salvador.

They now have a permanent Internet access in their office and have set up a cyber café, thanks to funds they have earned via a long-standing exchange and delegation-hosting program they have established with a college in Washington D.C. The cyber café is run by a youth group organized within the coop, and is working with the local school and receive groups of students for training throughout the week. Las Marias 93 is also developing a rural tourism project and attempting to create a living history museum focused on the region, the Civil War and the 1992 Peace Accords. As part of another community and income diversification project, Las Marias 93 has also developed a solid, local roasted coffee market and has opened a roadside coffee shop / snack counter that is gaining popularity.

Yet despite their impressive accomplishments, Las Marias 93 has been one of the most hard-hit organizations within our producer network by the dreaded leaf rust that has swept through the region. Las Marias 93 General Manager Porfirio Diaz estimates that up to 80 percent of all production has been damaged by the fungus and the entire organization is in an intensive 5-year recovery plan. In the meantime, what little production they have in the coming harvest, is being dedicated to maintain their local roasted coffee sales.

We imported our first container from Las Marias 93 in 2009. And although the cooperative will most like not have exportable production for the next year or two, we will stay in communication to help in any way possible their recovery. Stay tuned, as we track their field renovation and are able to bring their fine coffee back up to our markets!