Military Check Points, Armored Cars & Great Coffee Too

Having just returned from Honduras, it’s very hard to comprehend just how dangerous the city of San Pedro Sula has become. Yes indeed, I did see an ominous sign at the airport car rental “Armored Cars for Rent”. After passing through many check points, all military and fully manned with bunkers and machine guns and the drug sniffing yellow labs, we arrived at Ihcafe. This institute, also known as the Honduras Coffee Institute, was started in 1970, but not until 2000 did it focus on issues such as quality, production and markets trends. What we saw was an impressive full cupping lab, sample roasters of every make, moisture, density and roast color analyzers. These guys have such a passion to create uniform great cupping coffees, and it is working. We cupped some great ones.
Out of San Pedro Sula, we traveled for 2.5 hours to Siguatepeque where this would be our base for the next 4 days. Mostly an agricultural town surrounded by mountains and lots of coffees, this vibrant town of 75,000 has a great working class vibe. We visited about 20 farms with a few notable ones such as El Socorro de La Penita and La Germenia Village. We loved this coffee so much when we cupped it, we bought up all they had. The coffee is wet milled and dried on patios. This coffee is also shade grown. The cup has an orange citrus sweetness, good buttery body and nice snap in the finish. It will be arriving to us in June.
We did see plenty of Roya (Leaf Rust) damage all throughout our trip. I believe since 70% of Honduras is small farmers, damage will be 30-40% of the crop for the year. We visited farms belonging to Kingdom Growers, which was started by Grower’s First, whom we represent in the U.S. This is a great group headed by Dave Day, my old friend. He has worked tirelessly in Mexico and Honduras to create sustainable projects in the coffee producing areas. They are making a difference and we saw it first hand at the school in El Socorro “Escuela Jose Cecillo”. The school had a new set of books but seeing that they were short desks, Vournas Coffee Trading decided to donate 12 more so all the students have somewhere to sit. Vournas Coffee handed out much coveted soccer balls, and Rory and his father Kirk passed out soccer uniforms donated by kids in Laguna Beach, CA from various soccer teams that they wore years ago. It was a great day to spread some joy and love.
We saw many beautiful farms, several schools and lots of dedicated small farmers who work so hard to produce our coffees. Now if we can control the Roya outbreak and stabilize the “C” market, we can leave the chain of coffee with all it’s links intact.
All the Best,
Andrew