It is always exciting around the roastery when fresh-crop coffees arrive.
Within the next week, we will be getting coffees in from Guatemala and El Salvador, results of our most recent sourcing trip. While we have established Direct Trade relationships in Guatemala and Nicaragua, before this trip we had not investigated opportunities in El Salvador or Honduras. Thanks to a few people, we were able to accomplish a lot during our February sourcing trip to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
The trip started in El Salvador
After arriving in San Salvador, Mike Perry from Klatch, Steve Sims from Bodhi Leaf Green Coffee Importers and Jose Antonio Jr. and his brother Andres picked me up at the hotel and together we headed to the Santa Ana region for farm tours and cuppings. (Along with Jose Sr. the family own JASAL which encompasses several farms and a large mill.)
After a quick stop at the JASAL mill...
where we would spend the night, we headed to one of their farms, San Francisco, a beautiful farm where they processed their natural – or dry processed—coffee. We also saw some interesting experiments they were working on, like a shade-grown natural which looked exciting. After touring a couple of their other farms, we returned to the mill to cup coffee. For me, the standout was their Pacamara varietal, which they dubbed Los Luchadores; there was just a tiny amount of this coffee available but we bought it. We also agreed to buy some of their naturally-processed coffee in addition to some of their Honeyed coffee, both of which I am sure will show up in our Summer espresso blend and we will sell both as single-origin coffee. This coffee will arrive in Bird Rock on June 5th so expect to start seeing it by the end of that week. While larger than many of the farms we work the Antonio family is obsessed with quality. Their quality control is top-notch and they are open and eager to experiment with varietals or processing techniques. We look forward to bringing their coffee in this year and for years to come as we expand our efforts to connect with more great farmers in El Salvador beginning next year.
After another night in San Salvador...
and some awesome tacos at a great outdoor taqueria close to the hotel – Mike, Steve, and I hopped on a plane and headed to Honduras where we met up with Sherri Jones and our friend Martin Deidrich. Sherri has been working on and off in Honduras for years and is acting as the Head Judge for the Honduras Cup of Excellence. Thanks to Sherri, our time in Honduras was a fascinating learning experience and we were afforded the opportunity to meet several great farmers.
From the airport...
we headed to the headquarters of the Honduran specialty coffee association, IHCAFE and cupped about 50 coffees from all the major growing regions in Honduras, a wonderful introduction to the great potential this coffee has to produce special coffee. The IHCAFE would be our contact and our liaison for the week as we covered a lot of ground and several different growing regions. After the cupping we headed to the Santa Barbara region. Wow, what an incredible area, simply breath-taking and tropical. After a day of farm visits we headed back to the hotel. Luckily we got back in time to watch the Super Bowl – in Spanish—while eating fresh ceviche and drinking Honduran beer!
Next we headed to Congual...
where we met Maria Beyaano and her neighbor Rufino Benitex Carcamo who finished in fourth place for COE. This was yet another stunning Honduran region. But, clearly, many of these farmers could use some help. Maria for example could certainly use more drying beds and, going forward, we hope to assist her.
we spent time with Omar, the cooperative head of Cooperative Santa Rosa. We were all impressed with how sustainable many of the farms were and we were honored to stay with Omar and his mom for a night. We have coffee now from this cooperative.
Next, on to Guatemala
As with the rest of Central America this season, this year’s harvest is not the best, frankly. Heavy rains and hail last fall damaged a lot of the crop in Huehuetenango and other regions have suffered from low yields and slightly below average quality. We cupped about 50 coffees with our friends and exporters at Servex where Arturo from El Injerto also joined us. We will be bringing in a couple nice lots from El Injerto again this year and we are featuring a new farmer for us from the Antigua area that is available now: Hugo Morales.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks as more wonderful coffee comes in.