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COFFEE ORIGINS: SANTA BARBARA, HONDURAS

COFFEE ORIGINS: SANTA BARBARA, HONDURAS

Central America has been a popular coffee growing region for many years, with notable coffee-producing countries throughout. Nestled in the middle of the coffee region lies Honduras, an origin known for its wide array of coffees produced each year. Honduras continues to develop practices and overcome setbacks with the goal to improve and innovate the coffee industry as a whole.

Located just north of the equator, the region is optimal for coffee farms. The fertile soil, micro-climates, and topography provide the unique environment to grow exceptional coffee. Honduras, the leading coffee exporting country of Central America, produces coffees of both commercial grade and specialty grade. Coffee producers have begun focusing on farming practices to improve harvest quality, in pursuit of higher returns. Many of these coffee farmers live within a small region of the country: Santa Barbara.

mountains of Santa Barbara, Honduras

In the late summer of 2021, Santa Barbara was hit by multiple hurricanes, severely impacting the harvest of coffee producers throughout the country. Several of the producers we work with lost around 50% of their harvests. The development of fruit-bearing coffee trees can take up to 4-5 years, meaning farmers will be working towards full recovery over the next several years.

When natural disasters, like the hurricanes in 2021, leave producers with a fraction of their harvest, it directly impacts their anticipated income. A possible solution that many producers are beginning to experiment with is planting different varieties of coffee trees in search of a crop that may be more resistant to disease and fluctuating temperatures.

Looming in the background of the coffee farming industry is the reality that the next generation of producers are looking to other, potentially more sustainable, career paths. This leaves current coffee producers questioning the longevity of their multi-generational farming operations.

Miguel Ortiz holding a Madcap Coffee camp cup

Miguel Ortiz resides in the subregion of Santa Barbara, called Las Flores. Miguel is a grandfather figure within his community, sharing resources from his property and providing counsel to neighboring farmers. Situated deep in the mountainside, the terroir of Miguel’s farm benefits from a unique micro-climate, lending to the vibrant coffee he produces. The Ortiz family lives at the base of the property, next to their own wet mill. Miguel’s sons manage the crops at the higher elevation, while Miguel continues to operate the lower elevation farms.

This year, Miguel’s farm was drastically impacted by the hurricanes, as well as a natural disease, known as “coffee rust.” With all of these disruptions, Miguel focuses on moving forward and is optimistic about the upcoming years.Nelson Moreno with a coffee plant 

Down the street from Miguel lives Nelson Moreno. The family name is well known in the coffee industry, as a handful of members of the extended family continue to produce exceptionally beautiful coffee in Santa Barbara. Nelson lost around 40% of his harvest from the hurricane. Currently, Nelson is working to restore his land by planting more shade trees, stumping, and trialing new varieties for future harvests.

Juan Angel holding his coffee bag

Bordering Nelson’s farm is another multi-generational farming operation, that of Juan Angel Izaguirre. Out of the producers we partner with in Santa Barbara, Juan’s farm was hit the hardest by the hurricane. As the sole buyer of Juan’s vibrant coffee and a firm believer in his operation, we wanted to stand by him and his family during this challenging time. We continued to buy all of Juan’s harvest, this year paying a higher premium per pound of green coffee to support his restoration process.Juan Angel Izaguirre with his coffee.

The future of Juan Angel’s estate is in good hands. Juan gifted his son, Irvin Izaguirre, a micro-lot up the mountain from his own lot. This year, we get to highlight Irvin’s coffee on our menu, donning his name. This coffee is an example of the exceptional coffee produced in Santa Barbara, and it signifies a revival of the next generation of coffee producers.

Irvin Izaguirre in Santa Barbara, Honduras
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