Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability

First Advisor

Ingrid Olivo PhD



Climate change threatens agriculture worldwide, and coffee farming is especially vulnerable. This is apparent in El Salvador, a Central American coffee producing country, previously a prominent player in the field. Due to climate change impacts, as well as social, economic, political, cultural, and institutional issues, the country has been struggling during the last three decades to remain in the coffee industry in a way that is sustainable for the environment and for people. This study aimed to identify the ways in which coffee cultivation in El Salvador has contributed to or detracted from the ability of farmers to achieve food sovereignty and security. This investigation also sought to consider how gender, climate change, and unique El Salvadoran weaknesses and strengths bolster or diminish the likelihood that local farmers can achieve a sustainable path forward for coffee cultivation. To research these themes, a multi-method qualitative approach included a literature review, site-visits, participant observations, and semi-structured interviews. In conclusion, coffee farming contributes to food security in nuanced but seemingly unsustainable ways, as many small and medium-scale famers struggle to make a sufficient living, however, agroforestry style coffee farming contributes essential ecosystem services and must be protected and incentivized. Additionally, gender inequality, climate change, and problems specific to El Salvador threaten the sustainable future of the coffee industry.