Honduran coffee has been absent from the top ranks of the specialty market, but that is all changing. It has all the environmental factors on its side: soil, altitude, climate. All its neighbours have sophisticated coffee production: Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. But what is lacking is infrastructure, good coffee processing and transporting, capital and a distinct “name” in the consumer market. It has, in the past, been known mostly as a source for commercial coffee, not specialty.
The main problem is that the coffee cherry was partly processed, then sold wet to the mills – it would often ferment or mould before being correctly dried to 12%. If it survived the drying, then it might be badly dry-milled. If it was milled fine, then it was shipped to a boiling hot lowlands warehouse and ruined in storage. Even if it made it to a shipping container, it could be stalled at port and steamed in 100 degree weather.
However, with the help of USAID and Fintrac, along with coops like La Central, there is a huge educational push to produce better coffee and handle it so that the resulting cup quality is maximized. This involves a lot of investment in new equipment, and breaking of cost-cutting habits: not an easy thing to do in a low-priced coffee market where farmers are hardly covering the cost of production.
In general, we have seen lower acidity from Hondurans lately and greater sweetness, which makes it a great choice as a Central American component in espresso or an easy drinking cup in filter. The overall cup character is less acidic than other Central Americans, with distinct sweet caramel flavours in the cup.
We have the lovely Honduras in for this month’s Speciality Filter at £3 a cup. But hurry-when it’s gone it’s gone!