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2012 Sourcing Trip Part 4: Honduras Cont.

by Mike Perry, CEO and Green Coffee Buyer

I quickly learned that Honduras is a large country with coffee spread in many areas that required long days and much driving on hairpin tight roads to get from one coffee region to another. Rather than provide a daily diary, I would like to highlight a memory I will forever remember and cherish.

It was our experience in the relatively unknown region of Cangual. We first heard of this region by its success in Cup of Excellence Competition and next from our friends in Japan who scored 97 point coffees. From cupping at the dry mill with its overflowing patios we headed up the mountain, past the many coffee covered roof tops, to winding dirt roads. We drove through pine trees and past creeks and cliffs for 30 minutes to the tiny house of #4 COE Winner Rufino Benitez Carcamo of El Roblon. We enjoyed homemade chicken soup while overlooking the valley below. Before leaving, a group of 15 or so farmers had gathered to meet us and talk about their coffee. On Rufino’s property near his mill we had a town meeting of sorts as they shared their passions. I felt they were as excited to meet us as we were honored to meet them. All had small farms high up the mountain but milled their coffee at their homes and dried on patios or raised beds. Based on our visit we are planning some special projects in this region and with these farmers (more information will follow).

But the highlight of highlights was still to come, meeting Arcadia Maria Bejayano of El Borbollon and visiting her 97 point coffee and farm. She walked from her farm 5 km down to the meeting and was happy to head back up and show us her joy. We drove her the 5 km back till the road ended and the hiking began. Past the horses and up the steep trails toward the top. The side of the mountain was covered with small coffee trees growing between large lava rocks. Off to the side was a large waterfall and the view was spectacular. A group of us including myself, Martin, Chuck, Maria, Saloman, Douglas, Carlos and other farmers headed up the hill. I was breathing heavily while Maria, with her leather sandals and hand purse, looked like she was on a Sunday hike. As we reached what I thought was the very top, I looked back to take in the awe and beauty of it all, as I turned back to the others they were gone, having climbed the last few steps of the trail over a blind rise to another trail and climbing further back up the mountain. Finally after what seemed like forever, there it was, Maria’s farm. While primarily Red Catuii, there was also Yellow and Orange. Below near another small creek were pickers at a neighbor’s farm. The moment, the view, the experience was surreal and stunning.

Here at this magical place and moment we talked coffee and business. It was here, at 1800 meters that we negotiated a price for the best of her coffee. It would not all go to Japan as three roasters from California would share her coffee and those of neighbor Saloman as well. The experience should definitely be on the credit card commercial. The road, the hike, the trees, the waterfall, the people, little Maria, the memory... priceless!

There were many more memories, people, and experiences in Honduras I would like to share but as we are still in some negotiations for special coffees I do not want to jinx them so will save for a future blog. Next up, Guatemala.

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