Today was formatted similarly to yesterday
, but in a lot of respects was a way more fun day to be a coffee buyer!
We started the day at a dry mill and warehouse run by an exporter called Volcafe
in Santa Rosa de Copan
. We cupped a handful of their best micro-lots from the start of this year's harvest and they were mind blowing. I certainly have never tasted a Honduras coffee of this caliber and every single offering was head and shoulders above anything I have ever tasted from this country. Having a whole group of such amazing coffees was a great opportunity to really dive into the flavor profiles and be a bit picky. Almost the whole team agreed on one ultimate favorite, the first 7 bag lot from a farmer named Francisco Perez - flavor notes included clean bright orange, apple juice, floral, red berry, with a sweet and rounded aftertaste. So far this has been my favorite coffee of the trip, and also the best Honduras coffee I have ever tasted.
... and we still have several days to go!
Unfortunately it is unclear if this coffee will be available for export as is. Since it is such a small lot, exporters of this size will typically blend these great tasting micro-lots with others of the same caliber to create a larger lot for more efficient exporting. It makes sense in that for an exporter that will handle 200,000 bags this harvest to not have to manage the hassle of keeping 7 bags separated out when it could be a lot of 20 bags that tastes as great. Yes, a little traceability is lost, but in this unique situation I can also see how much benefit there is for these small farmers to work with this great exporter Volcafe. Sometimes things get complicated in coffee sourcing, but in this situation it is almost all around better the the farmer to have to sacrifice a little traceability. It's not ideal for the roaster, but sometimes we as roasters have to step back and not try to disrupt a process that is so beneficial to the farmer.
Sorry if that was a bit much, but this story illustrates the complexity of coffee trading. Sourcing coffee is not just showing up, tasting coffees, and buying the best one... a lot of time has to be spent understanding the process the coffee moves through and seeking to understand if buying directly from a farmer is even more beneficial. It can be frustrating, and you can always feel like you are walking on thin ice as a buyer, but the important thing for me is that the farmer wins, even if his/her coffee is the best I've tasted and I can't buy it!
From the mill we went just to the other side of town to visit a cafe staffed by a Honduras barista competitor. Not only was the coffee and food very tasty, but below the cafe situated down in a valley was a coffee farm! This farm is completely family run and only produces Natural and Honey Processed coffee which is pretty unique for Honduras coffee farms where the washed process is king. So, needless to say it was quite unique to see a whole farm with raised drying beds producing only these unique coffees here in Honduras.
We popped in briefly at a historical site. It was a old fort situated on a plateau overlooking some incredible scenery.
From there we continued into the mountains to our resting place for the evening... a motel/coffee farm in the mountains only a few several miles from Francisco's farm!