THE STORY BEHIND CAPUCAS
In 1885, Athanasius Rodolfo Romero bought large plots of land in the region of Las Capucas in Western Honduras and began planting tobacco and coffee. With each new generation, the family put more emphasis on the cultivation of coffee and by 1999, Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada (COCAFCAL) was founded as a network of producers who could share information and resources. Today, under the leadership of General Manager Jose Omar Rodriguez Romero, COCAFCAL has established a lasting model for growth through education, infrastructural support, access to buyers, and innovative sustainability initiatives such as ecotourism (including a new restaurant and zip line!), beekeeping, aquaculture, lemongrass, maracuyá and greenhouse projects. Capucas vividly illustrates the ultimate goal of cooperatives which is to collectively strengthen a group of individual farmers so that they can eventually thrive independently, as evidenced by two cornerstone relationships for Irving Farm: Jose Luis Rivera (Los Lirios) and Pancho (Platanares).
To visit Capucas is to witness a marvel of industrious planning and organization, not to mention breathtaking mountain vistas. The community is thriving, and part of their genius is in the diversification of land usage. With over 700 members, there’s never a dull moment between coffee harvesting, new construction, and hosting international buyers and local tourists alike. One of their biggest draws is the annual competition where farmers can showcase their specialty lots and hopefully sell their best coffee at a premium. Our Green Coffee Buyer, Dan Streetman, began traveling to Capucas in 2011 when Pancho and Jose Luis placed 1st and 2nd in the competition, respectively, and we’ve been working with them ever since. Over the years we’ve seen the co-op battle the dreaded roya (coffee leaf rust) and win, as well as personal milestones such as Jose Luis building a new house for his family, Pancho’s daughter Lourdes traveling to China to compete in an international barista competition, and Omar welcoming his first child. It’s these relationships that are the foundation of Irving Farm’s coffee program, to know that we can have a direct impact on the lives of these farmers and their families, just as their coffees have a direct impact on us and our customers.
Dan carefully selects the coffees that go into our Capucas blend by sampling dozens of lots, taking extensive notes, and then deciding how to incorporate the dynamic flavors of each individual lot to produce a cup that is delightfully balanced, highlighting the tropical characteristics that make Capucas such a consistently stellar region.
The co-op states very simply that its goal is to “reduce poverty and increase quality of life.” Those are values that we can get behind, and we welcome you to join us in supporting this special community.