San Pedro Sula is the second largest city in northwestern Honduras.
Unfortunately, San Pedro Sula has many incidents between drug gangs, and it is said to be the most dangerous city in the world.
I strongly believe that everyone should stop taking drugs and drink coffee.
As soon as I landed at Ramon Villeda Morales Airport, I met my agent Benjamin and headed south towards Peña Blanca.
Peña Blanca is a small town, but it is a hub for coffee buyers visiting the Santa Barbara area, one of the coffee producing regions.
Santa Barbara Mountain is 2777m above sea level. Lago de Yojoa (Lake Yojoa) spreads out at the foot of the mountain.
Lake Yojoa and the Santa Barbara Mountains in the background
The reason why I like coffee from Santa Barbara is because it's delicious.
The reason why it is delicious is because it has a well-balanced and transparent fruit flavor, a gentle sweetness like chocolate, a freshness like green tea, and an overall intensity.
I can't say that all the coffee produced here is that perfect, but I'm fascinated by the deliciousness and visit this production area every year to buy the best coffee of the year.
The altitude of the production area is around 1600m to 1850m.
Cool, moist air from the lakes rises up the mountains, creating extreme temperature differences. At higher altitudes and cooler farms, coffee beans ripen very slowly, producing coffees with a strong character.
The main harvest season in Central America's coffee growing regions begins as early as November and ends in February/March, but Santa Barbara's 1700m+ locations are still harvesting through April/May. . It's called Late Harvest and I think Late Harvest is of higher quality here.
Drying process and sorting of Mario Moreno drying table (removal of defective beans)
Sorted defective beans
Farm: El Guayabo
Producer: Mario Moreno
Region: El Cedar
First, we visited Mario Moreno, a producer at Guayabo Farm.
The Moreno family is a large family, with seven brothers, including Mario, all growing coffee. We especially love the coffee from Mario's El Guayabo farm and have been buying it almost exclusively since 2016.
Even though it is exclusive, the production volume is very small and only around 10 bags (700kg) can be purchased each year.
Last year (2017-2018) was very rainy and we struggled a lot with production.
This year, on the contrary, the weather was very dry and the soil was very dry.
If the soil dries out, the coffee tree will try to bear fruit earlier.
Because of this, the harvest started early this year.
In addition, it seems that the coffee fruit that has been exposed to the hot sun has been damaged.
The impact of strong sunlight on quality is even more evident when you see healthy coffee berries under the shade tree.
Shade tree called Guama
Even so, the coffee fruit at a high altitude of around 1750m is growing well as usual, so this year's cup quality is expected to be excellent.
We always tend to focus on the harsh growing environment of the farm, but overall, we have high expectations for the taste, even if the shipping volume fluctuates.
Even in blind cupping, El Guayabo's personality stood out this year, with my score of 87.5, compared to the other cuppers' average of 88 points.
Then there is Nelson Ramirez.
Producer: Nelson Ramirez
Region: El Cielito
Nelson is a producer who takes a scientific approach to agriculture as much as possible.
He is enthusiastic about making healthy soil, treating wastewater without damaging the surrounding environment, and increasing yields without sacrificing quality.
Aiming to be a sustainable coffee farm that always looks to the future, we invest money and time in various experiments and new attempts.
The growing environment changes every year due to climate change. If we don't research and take countermeasures against heavy rain, dryness, and strong sunlight, it seems inevitable that in the future there will be an environment where coffee can't be made.
I don't know how many years it will take, but producers like Nelson, who conduct research based on data and solve problems, will be indispensable.
His latest projects are wastewater decomposition using earthworms and organic fertilizer. After removing the pulp, the water that decomposes the mucilage contains a lot of sugar and cannot be drained as it is. Normally, several ponds are built on the slope and the water is gradually filtered from above, which takes time.
Wastewater containing mucilage after fermentation process and washing
Nelson plans to use the wastewater from breaking down the mucilage during the fermentation process, which will be spread over the worm-infested space, broken down, and mixed with the removed pulp to create a fully renewable organic fertilizer.
Although there were some failures during the experiment, such as the annihilation of all the earthworms, the project is scheduled to be completed early next year.
However, in my opinion, no matter how much you care about the environment, if the finished product is not delicious, it will be difficult to continue to purchase it.
That's why I buy Nelson.
He never begs to buy, instead he details and shares his approach and thoughts on coffee.
And since the first purchase three years ago, the quality has clearly improved every year, and it is a wonderful producer whose efforts and results are consistent.
This year we also purchased a carefully selected lot from Santa Barbara.
I think I can deliver it by the fall of this year. looking forward to.
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