Fresh organic and fair trade coffee with a lake view on a sunny day. Who could turn down such an opportunity? Certainly not me, and so I took myself off from Santa Ana and headed up to Lake Coatepeque. A stunning lake sat snugly within an ancient volcanic crater, it was a perfect backdrop for a day out to Los Pinos. Cooperativa Los Pinos lies high up on the eastern ridge of the lake. It is an interesting cooperative that combines a community-oriented business with tourism.
I made it up there on a Sunday. I knew the restaurant would be open, and hoped that someone would be available to talk about the cooperative. Unfortunately, the office and all the knowledgable staff were taking a day of rest. Good for them of course, and my ‘drawback’ was that I had a bit more time to sit in the open-air restaurant and have my Los Pinos coffee.
Later I took a walk through the coffee cafetal down towards the lake. Those lucky enough to be well-off in El Salvador have cornered all the available real estate around the lake but it was nice to get a little closer and admire the views on the way down. The coffee grows on very steep slopes here but the volcanic soil is fertile and the coffee variety (mostly bourbon) highly regarded. It was unfortunate that I didn’t learn much about the co-op on my visit, but I did subsequently learn that this is where the Las Cruces co-op (previous post) brings its coffee for depulping and drying. The co-op does serve the local community, and encourages eco-tourism. As well as the restaurant, there are little bungalows for tourists to stay and guided walks were available for tourists too.
And after I hiked back up the steep hill, I rewarded myself with another cup of Los Pinos coffee and admired the view. Lake Atitlan, eat your heart out…