Boots on the Ground: Honduras

Our Honduran offerings have proven to be some of our most exciting and longest running producer relationships, having been established in the first few months of our roasting operation. Christian (owner and founder of Spyhouse) and I traveled down there this past spring to spend time with each of them, and to look at further opportunities within the region. With these coffees just beginning to arrive in our cafes, we wanted to fill you in on our experience there.

All three of the Honduran producers, Otilio Leiva, Amado Fernandez, and Osmin Reyes, are on Santa Barbara Mountain and have their coffee milled at Beneficio San Vicente. The San Vicente mill was founded by the Paz family, and as it has grown throughout the years, each generation has taken up their own specialized task. Benjamin manages specialty producer relationships, and is our primary contact for the group. He also served as our host, making sure we were properly filled with the best local food and well-caffeinated at the cafe he runs just up the road from the mill.

Amado Fernandez is one of the two standing relationships he had established before this trip. He inherited his farm from his father, Don Amado, and shares a centralized mill with his mother and brothers, who all grow coffee alongside each other. Amado has a deep history of producing exceptional coffee, including a Cup of Excellence win in 2010 and a sixth-place finish in 2013. Over the past couple of years, he has been fighting abdominal cancer and has gone through two surgeries. He is now fully healed and is able to once again direct his full attention on the farm.

Otilio Leiva happened to be on the same table, just a few cups away from Amado when I selected their lots on my first trip. Otilio jumped off the table with notes of dried fruit and a creamy mouthfeel. That first year, he produced just three exportable bags—his first specialty lot ever. Each year working together, we have seen his production quantity and cup-quality improve with each lot. This year, in his primary harvest he has produced over thirty bags. Otilio's trademark creaminess and peach tones have carried through as the cup quality continues to improve.

While visiting with Otilio, we noticed a few simple improvements he could make to directly improve his cup quality. While covering the plan with him we committed to a premium, based on cup quality. We were able to see the pre-ship score increase two points and increased his premium by over 10%. His coffee has become one of our staff favorites and a single origin espresso we dream about year-round.

As we were about to leave Otilio's home, Osmin Reyes arrived with a sample for Benjamin of the very first pickings from his new farm. He has a small farm in El Cedral at 1650 meters, but just began harvesting his new plot at 1900 meters, the highest on the entire mountain. We excitedly cupped the sample the following day and immediately committed to both lots. When a coffee as special as this—located at the highest elevation, on the best face of the best mountain in Honduras is presented to you—you jump on it. Sometimes magic just happens.

All of these producers' coffees have recently landed in the United States, and we are just beginning to rotate through featuring them in our cafe and wholesale accounts. These have been some of our annual favorites and we are looking forward to sharing them with you.

- Tony Querio, Director of Coffee / Green Buyer 

Top: Mountain Peaches at Otilio Leiva, Don Amado Fernandez
Middle: Mill collection at Don Amado, Don Amado's shared mill
Bottom: Otilio Leiva in his solar driers, Coffee transport


Top: Cloud Mountains at Don Amado, Peña Blanca
Middle: Otilio Leiva in his farm, Otilio Leiva receiving a bag from us
Bottom: Jesus statue at Lake Yojoa, Don Amado mill workers