HOW COFFEE IS BOUGHT AND SOLD (history and market)
Coffee is believed to have arrived in Honduras through traders in the late-18th century. A census from the early-19th century showed that coffee was mainly being grown by smallholders, with widespread cultivation beginning from the mid-20th century.
The coffee sector experienced steady growth from 1980 onward, until 1998, when the country lost 80% of its agriculture due to Hurricane Mitch. Even as it recovered from this natural disaster, most financial benefits from coffee were lost due to farmers smuggling coffee into Guatemala, where they received higher prices.
IHCAFE, Honduras’ coffee board, was established in 2000 and launched several initiatives (including Cup of Excellence) to help establish Honduras as a producer of high quality coffee. One of IHCAFE’s other initiatives was to organize coffee growers into six distinct coffee-growing regions suited to specific varieties. Each region thus specializes in growing coffee with distinct qualities and one of the main benefits of this is that each region can cater to different markets.
In 2009, Honduras experienced record high crop volumes and high international prices. In addition, good marketing through IHCAFE (Honduras’ coffee board) even helped the government fight off bankruptcy, after a political coup took place that same year. In 2011, the country became Central America’s biggest producer of coffee and in 2012 it became second-biggest exporter of Arabica coffee (Colombia being first). Despite increased challenges due to climate change, Honduras continues to increase production by both volume and quality.
OUR PARTNERS AT ORIGIN
CCS’ partnerships in Honduras represent the closest to the ideal model we are striving for when we think about how and with what kind of producer we want to work with at origin.
It started in 2005, when Robert (CCS’ co-founder) juried at that year’s Cup of Excellence and bought a few non-auction bags from first-place winner, Natividad Benitez, for MOCCA, his then roastery-coffee bar in Oslo. From there, CCS today finds itself working with 40+ families in and around Santa Barbara.
Key to this supply chain is San Vicente Exporters, the family and team who are working on-the-ground and in partnership with our farmer partners throughout the year. It would be difficult for us to develop and grow our relationships with our producer partners without the Paz family’s own belief and dedication to the CCS model of coffee sourcing and buying.
San Vicente is both a commercial and specialty exporter and it is largely through the efforts of Benjamin and his cousin Arturo Pas that we see clear developments in San Vicente’s specialty program season after season. Benjamin is the son of Fidel Paz, the founder of San Vicente, and represents a decidedly modern approach to being coffee professional in an origin country. He runs a West Coast US-inspired coffee bar/roastery, manages most of San Vicente’s specialty accounts, and is himself a coffee producer, growing a few different varieties throughout his two plantations.
It always feels like coming home when we take a trip to see our Honduran friends.
WHY honduran COFFEES SHOULD BE PART OF YOUR MENU
Washed: citrus fruits, berries, spicy, florals. Overall quite complex.
How the price is constructed