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, machine guns and drug sniffing yellow labradors, we arrived at IHCAFE.
IHCAFE: Instituto Hondureño del Cafe
Also known as the Honduras Coffee Institute, IHCAFE was started in 1970, but it wasn’t until 2000 that it began to focus on issues such as quality, production and markets trends. What we saw was an impressive full cupping lab along with sample roasters of every make, moisture & density measuring equipment and even roast color analyzers. These guys have such a passion to create uniform great cupping coffees, and it is working. We cupped some great ones.
On To Siguatepeque
Out of San Pedro Sula, we traveled for 2.5 hours to Siguatepeque which would be our home base for the next four days. Surrounded by mountains and lots of coffee fields, Siguatepeque is mostly an agricultural town, yet it is home to a population of 75,000 working class individuals and exhibits a vibrant vibe and feel. 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 shade grown, wet milled and dried on patios. The cup has an orange citrus sweetness, good buttery body and nice snap in the finish. It will be arriving to us in June. Stay Tuned!
Visible Presence of Coffee Leaf Rust
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 Growers First, whom we represent in the U.S. This is a great group headed by my old friend, Dave Day. He has worked tirelessly in Mexico and Honduras to create sustainable projects in the coffee producing areas.
Growers First is making a difference, and we saw it first hand in El Socorro at the school, “Escuela Jose Cecillo”. They 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, California 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.
Yours In Coffee,
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