As I am in Honduras this week, I'll use these next few posts just to reflect on the high points of each day of this journey. It's been an incredible trip already and I can't wait to share my favorite things.
Today we left San Pedro Sula and took the 4 hour drive to the Copan region and spent most of our time in the area of Santa Rosa. The main activity today was to tour a mill called Cafico. From there we went and toured a farmed owned by the manager of the mill just up the road.
Cafico is essentially a "coop" for farmers but it's set up more like a business. I won't go into super great detail about the many ways this mill pours back into the farmers that are part of it, but to summarize they are helping shift the mindset of farmers to increase the quality and efficiency of the coffee they produce on their farms because it is all around better and has long lasting benefits and not just an easy way to get a quick cash bonus. More on that later.
But the mill, let's talk about the mill. This by far the most state of the art, high tech mill I have heard of or seen. The mill uses 30% of the water a traditional set up uses which is largely due to the incredible machinery and also their water conservation practices. I should mention for those who don't know, a mill is basically a place small farm owners bring their fresh picked coffee cherries from the days harvest to have the seed (what we know as a coffee bean) separated from the fruit. Sometimes milling even happens right at the farm if it's large enough. Separating the seed and fruit is actually pretty complex. There hundreds of small steps between the picking of a cherry and the coffee's arrival in the USA and each step needs to be executed perfectly! The more standard mills blend every coffee they get into one big regional blend with little traceability... however, the first great thing about this mill is they keep every single lot separated by producer through the whole milling process. Each individual producer is important to them in this process - Cafico wants to bring about change and a large part of that is tailoring resources and help to each individual farm. They provide full traceability back to the farmer, which is essentially the best of both worlds - these small producers gain access to the resources offered by the coop and can still represent themselves and the quality of their own farm as their coffee won't initially be blended with all neighboring farms.
The biggest take away for me today was essentially hope. Seeing this incredibly well functioning, innovative operation that focuses on better coffee before short term payoffs has lead to incredible improvements in quality and some of the best premiums for coffee going back to the producer in all of Honduras.
I'd love to nerd out about all the incredible little details of this mill, so if you're really interested in that and I'd be glad to talk about it in greater depth... but for now I'll keep it short and sweet.