Raspberry, vanilla cream, and mellow chocolate.
The balance of support and quality: We have had many deep and meaningful conversations over the years on the balance between 'farm support' and 'in-cup quality'. We often say, "It'd be great to feature a coffee from this region or that producer," but then find ourselves conflicted when the sample arrives by our uncompromising commitment to quality--no matter how much we love a coffee's story, it has to taste great! This micro-lot has no compromises. It's been a total joy, from its first murmurings online to opening the grainpro bag and unleashing its bouquet of banana and orange to its soft, mellow choc raspberry and vanilla cream in-cup-qualities.
Specialty challenges: Honduras has long been known for its volume production, producing the most volume out of Middle American countries and seventh in global coffee exports. The Central Bank of Honduras has reported coffee as Honduras's top agricultural export, sending 6.1 million bags out into the world annually. As is typical with most things, a significant volume usually means lower quality and lower prices. This, in turn, limits capital and investment, which limits the infrastructure and support demanded by the more nuanced specialty coffee market such as what is found in neighbours El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Climate challenges: Climate conditions have also held back this budding specialty coffee nation. As a result, farms have often turned to fully mechanical means of drying. These methods prove efficient but ultimately contribute to the lots' moisture content and water activity instability. This shortcut presents itself in the green and roasted bean over time, with coffee slowly developing more detectable defects. Insufficient and inconsistent drying also contributes to faster aging than traditional processing methods.
Quality drivers: High-profile auctions and competitions such as the Honduran Cup of Excellence have been game changers and inspired investment exploration and experimentation. The flow-on effect has seen new varieties, processing, techniques, and infrastructure make their way to micro-farms in the region. Research, support and extension services by IHCAFE have also advocated for specialty coffee among Honduran producers and helped give it the boost it needs.
The man behind the green: As in much of Honduras, coffee is a family business with many farms supporting families and generations over decades. Roger Antonio Dominguez Marquez grew up immersed in coffee, with his family owning several small farms in the 1990s. They are small (3-5 hectares) and at a good altitude for specialty coffee (over 1300masl). Since inheriting his family's farms, Roger has gone from strength to strength. He cultivates a small variety of quality heirloom types, including Bourbon, Catuai, and Caturra, and is meticulous about his processing, wet milling and drying.
This cup shows how quickly situations and quality can change with passion, education, investment and a little belief.