Before traveling to Ciudad Romero from Ataco, our group stopped at a coffee farm and factory for a tour. It was much different than the coffee tour I took in Costa Rica, even though they started off very similar- by telling us the history of how coffee made its way from Ethiopia to the Dutch King Louis XIV to Central and South America. Both tours had stories presented on boards written in English and Spanish. Then the tours began to divert from one another.

Because Costa Rica is more inclined to have abundant tourists the Costa Rican tour continued with a skit of coffee’s history and the skit seemed to progress through the entirety of the tour, which mostly was touring the cultivation of the coffee bean, not the fabrication of processing, storing, and selling the beans.

After reading about the history of Salvadorian coffee, they sat us down to watch a video, which was an overview of coffee bean history and processing. Once the video was over we began the tour starting with the coffee bean post-harvest. The bean travels through a series of stages like dehulling the seed from the shell, washing, drying, selecting, sometimes roasting (dependent on if the bean will be exported- if the bean is exported then the bean is NOT roasted), and bagging.

The guide gave us an informative tour and even let us do some of his work- pushing the beans in back and forth in a checkerboard pattern leaving them in rows to dry. He spoke Spanish the while time and since my Spanish is sub-par I had to rely on my sense of logical mechanization to understand the machineries functions (with a Translation and Interpretation student aiding every now and then).

At the end of the tour the guide had us all try some delicious freshly-brewed coffee and showed us the souvenir shop for a larger coffee selection.

The Salvadorian experience was much more personal than the Costa Rican tour which made me enjoy it more. And now I really know how and where Starbucks buys its coffee.