Honduras stands mightily atop the producing countries of Central America–producing more coffee per capita than any other country in the world. A true feat considering their small size. Coffee first arrived inHonduras in the 18th century via trading ships. The crop slowly spread over the following centuries and gained prominence in the 20th century. Honduras has encountered a number of obstacles with regards to coffee production over the past 100 years, but the country has remained strong.
Coffee is an important commodity in Honduras and for many, helped prevent bankruptcy during the financial crisis in 2009. In 1970, the country created the Instituto Hondureño del Cafe (IHCAFE),to help improve and maintain the infrastructure behind coffee production and exportation. This included the initiation of research centers to discover more resistant varieties and develop hybrids whilst testing new agricultural technologies. IHCAFE also provided support for producers to gain access to more premium markets by improving quality and yields.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch decimated the lands of Honduras, similar to many other Central American countries, severely decreasing yields, and harming livelihoods.The slow struggle to recovery was also impeded by the spread of coffee leaf rust in 2010, but thanks to heavy investment in farm renovation and support from IHCAFE, this obstacle was overcome.
A significant portion (70%) of producers in Honduras are considered smallholders, growing coffee on landless than 2 hectares. The past few decades have seen increased support towards these smallholders, with resources provided by IHCAFE to improve agricultural methods and connect producers with international markets.The producers are passionate about quality and are constantly looking to the future. Not only that, but Honduras, unlike many other Central American countries, boasts an overall young average age of producer. Cooperatives are run by young professionals, and plenty of entrepreneurs are working to modernize the coffee industry in Honduras.
In the eastern reaches of Honduras, near the borders of Guatemala and El Salvador, is the department of Ocotepeque. The rich volcanic soils and delicate microclimate make this area ideal for coffee production.Just outside the town ofMercedes is Cascaritas, avast farm, broken up into various lots ,run by Delmy Esperanza Hernandez and her son Moises Hidardo Hernandez
Delmy grew up pulping coffee by hand and was always immersed in the coffee industry thanks to her father and family.She worked on Cascaritas with her husband, who has now passed away, so Delmy and her son carry on the legacy. Whilst Moises focuses more on production and the microlots, Delmy has her focus on processing. She has grown quite interested in newer processing methods such as carbonic maceration.As a third-generationcoffee producer, she has plenty of knowledge on how to process excellent coffee.
Moises is a fourth-generation coffee producer. He is young, and quite entrepreneurial, being one of the founding members of CAFESMO, our exporting partners in Honduras. With his fiancée, he also owns a specialty coffee shop serving specialty Honduran coffee and cacao in the town ofSanta Rosa de Copán .He is truly passionate about coffee, brewing V60s at home, and has been producing microlots since 2015.
At Cascaritas, Delmy not only grows coffee, but has planted pine, banana trees, American walnut trees, hazel pine, guamo and malcinca to give the coffee shade.
During the harvest at Cascaritas, this coffee is gathered and delivered to their wet mill inPlan del Rosario.The coffee is submerged in a tank of water to remove any floaters, or low-quality cherries. They are then pulped to remove the external fruit and washed.The freshly cleaned coffee is placed into barrels to aerobically ferment for24 hours. After, the yeast is introduced, and the barrels are sealed in order to initiate the anaerobic fermentation.The coffee remains here for48 hours.Once fermentation is complete, the coffee is dispersed ontoraised beds to dry in the open sun until the ideal moisture content is reached.The coffee is then delivered to the CAFESMO partner mill to be hulled and prepared for export.
CAFESMO was initiated in 2016 to assist smallholder producers with processing and provide access to international markets. Today, the organization is comprised of over 280 producers, each with2–12hectares of land, on average. The group is quite diverse, with a mix of men and women, young and old.Coffees are milled with their partners at the Beneficio Santa Rosa