Travel Update: Honduras + Nicaragua
Dan, our Coffee Director, just returned from a coffee buying trip where he visited some old friend and made new coffee friends; sniffed, swirled and spit coffee; crossed borders and made the newspaper in Honduras…
Here are a few lines from his travel diary:
First stop, Capucas:
I wanted to drop a line about Las Capucas. Everything was amazing when we got here. Our hosts had built cabanas for us to stay in, which was real fun. This year the co-op had 40 new members join and I got to meet some of them. Great news, they all replaced their milling equipment with brand new milling equipment! Best of all, the coffee is improving. This year they had 44 lots in the competition (last year we had 30) and there were only 2 lots that we scored as “non-specialty”. This is an impressive achievement and I’m excited about how things continue to develop here.
On Saturday after the festival, I visited Jose Francisco Villeda (aka Pancho) and his family. He is a farmer whose coffee we currently buy. It was really awesome to sit down with him and learn more about his farm and family. Pancho and his wife Patricia have 4 daughters and 1 son. This year Pancho is processing much more of his own coffee, instead of selling it to the mill. This is largely because of our commitment to continue buying from him and the prospect of us buying more coffee.
Two days in San Vicente:
Now we are in Santa Barbara and working with the San Vicente Dry Mill. Santa Barbara is the most famous part of Honduras to source coffee from right now. Mostly because many of the “Cup of Excellence” winners come from here. For example the El Sauce coffee we had from CoE in 2010, which I visited today. We cupped 30 coffees in the Mill today, did a few farm visits and tomorrow are doing more farm visits from the coffees that we liked. I found one lot that I like a LOT which wasn’t spoken for and we are going to visit tomorrow. It is all Bourbon, which is uncommon here with mostly Pacas and Catuai being grown.
Two days in Marcala:
We took a side trip to Marcala on the way to Nicaragua. Marcala is probably the best known of Honduras’ growing regions. It is a controlled Denomination of Origin by the Honduran Government, which means the coffees must be from the region of Marcala, and meet the quality specs. This year however was the first year the mill here has separated “micro-lots”. We cupped 30 coffees and saw some promise. We also met an amazing young lady named Nancy Contreras, who has been cupping since she was 14 and now owns a coffee shop, roasts and cups at the mill.
Last stop, Nicaragua:
Yesterday we crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua. This morning we are getting up early to head out to visit some farms. We toured around Ocotal (the city where we are) in two coffee growing regions, Dipilto and Mozonte. The last day we cupped 30 coffees at Beneficio Las Segovias, before heading to the Managua. Dipilto and Mozonte also showed tons of promise and some amazing producers with very distinct points of view.
After two weeks on the road I am exhausted but amazed at the great coffees and people I have been introduced to. Looking forward to returning home to NYC.