It has been a few years since my last visit to Central America and much has changed.
I started in Honduras and the capital city of Tegucigalpa were the La Central offices are located. This was a good base to visit the Natural Reserve of La Tigra where we source our Fairtrade/Organic/Rainforest Alliance coffee from – it is plain to see why when you get there. We then headed off to San Pedro Sula, a trip that took 5 days to complete and many miles over rocky and muddy roads. Luckily this 4×4 was not built for the school run ! It should have been dry, but the rains were there which will cause a problem for next crop as some of the trees were budding already. We visited 7 coops all of which were showing signs of great improvements – wet mills, mechanical dryers and general husbandry. It was great to sit in the coop offices/warehouses and discuss with the members about their coffee – the age of the coop, the activities of it and how they were progressing. The care of the coffee is high, and this showed with the results of the Honduras Cup of Excellence as a number of CCCH coops scored highly. La Central/CCCH has made much progress over the years and their members are benefiting from items such as pre-finance, technical assistance and a coffee school for their members.
In contrast, Costa Rica is a wealthier country and the coops are very different in structure.
The visit was to see our traditional supplier, Coricafe and the various coops that we have bought from both conventional and certified coffees. The size of the individual coops was very impressive and they produce about 20% of the country’s production with one mill being the biggest in the country. The coops are well established and the social programmes they run are impressive, with petrol stations, household goods, farm equipment and bank loans just part of their services. There were also many eco mills already in situ – the coffee bi-products as much of concern as the quality of the coffee. Some of the coops are coming to the UK next month and will be at our presentation day so you will be able to hear from them directly.
Coricafe is the leading private exporter who pride themselves in the quality they deliver and the service they provide – we certainly find many repeat orders for their brands. They also have their own ‘Candelaria’ plantation and a local roasting company, which helps to give them a great understanding of the coffee chain from bush to cup. The Candelaria Estate concentrates on quality – processing and drying the coffee how the client wishes for individual cup preferences – this coffee will be arriving in the UK in the coming months.
Again, the weather was not favourable – a number of trees were starting to flower and if the rains don’t continue the crop will be lost. If they do continue, the season will be early but lower in volume. Sounds like the usual ‘cry wolf’ but we wont be selling short !