Origin Update – Holiday Offerings from Guatemala and Honduras 2021
We are heading into the Holiday season in North America, as well as the main coffee harvest throughout Central America, and have a terrific line up of Holiday themed coffee to offer. Just as citizens in the northern hemisphere are gearing up for the festivities of the end of the year, slowing down to a certain extent, coffee farmers to the south are hard at work harvesting and processing coffee for shipment in the spring and summer. We often source coffees from Central America with holiday offerings in mind, looking for larger lots that evoke the warmth and generosity of the season. 2021 is no exception, and we will be featuring a Holiday Filter from Las Terrazas in Guatemala as well as a Holiday Espresso from La Bendición in Honduras, both cherished long-term relationships.
Guatemala Las Terrazas
This amazing coffee comes from the Senegal lot within the Las Terrazas farm, owned and managed by our partners Vides 58. We love Las Terrazas for our Holiday Filter because it has such beautiful concentration in the cup, showing both notes of chocolate as well as a berry toned jamminess - sweet and inviting it is a perfect Holiday Filter. Located in La Libertad, Huehuetenango, this farm is a standout for a couple of reasons.
First the farm is located at 1700-2300 meters, with Senegal being the highest coffee lot within the farm at 2100 meters. The owners of Terrazas have attempted to grow coffee higher than this but conditions are too cold and extreme, at least for now. The farm itself is in an area that was previously off limits for cultivation of coffee, being too high and cold, but in recent years, due to climate change, the story has changed and 2000+ meters is now feasible.
The second variable that makes Las Terrazas intriguing is that, as the name would suggest, the coffee is grown on terraces. According to Renardo Ovalle of Vides 58, this is because the land is steep and terraces were created to make cultivation and labor more manageable.
Renardo reports that the upcoming harvest, estimated to start more or less on time at the end of January, will be slightly smaller than the last, which was bountiful. This is simply because coffee trees that have produced lots of coffee one year tend to need more pruning and time to recover, resulting in less production the following year. On the other hand rain has been more stable In Hueheu this year than last, when late season tropical storms and hurricanes wreaked havoc on the entire region. Thus, the dip in production is estimated at a relatively modest 5%.
Honduras La Bendición
Our Holiday Espresso once again comes from our dear friend Ramon Rodriguez, owner and farmer at La Bendición in El Cedral, Santa Barbara, Honduras. We selected three smaller Pacas lots from Ramon and combined them into one larger lot for this offering, as they were all incredibly similar in character and perfect for espresso. Showing a balance of complex floral notes along with a creamy mouth feel and high levels of sweetness, the Holiday Espresso is equally at home in a flat white or on its own as a ristretto.
I had the pleasure of visiting with Ramon over the summer and was happy to hear from him then and more recently our exporter BSV, that his production for this year is looking comparable to last year – also a bumper harvest. During that visit I was shown around a new plot of land, about 5 minutes from the original farm, densely planted with beautiful coffee trees, right next to the storied farms of Elio Diaz. They named it after his wife, Anabel, who along with his son, helps manage this lot. Well, those trees are producing coffee, and just as older parts of Ramon’s farm need renovation, the new farm is coming on line.
This speaks to the importance of farm maintenance and re-planting, so that production and income remains stable – a concept that is simple enough but remarkably hard to achieve for many small coffee farmers. If all of your coffee is planted at the same time and a few years later needs renovation all at once, incomes can and often do plummet. Planting and renovating on a rotating schedule, not to mention expanding to new plots of land, is the foundation of a sustainable coffee farming business. The stable incomes Ramon has seen through his partnership with BSV and 49th since 2011 no doubt has helped him and his family grow their small farm.
As we are enjoying the 2021 Holiday Espresso we can also look forward to a healthy, if slightly smaller, 2022 harvest, according to Benjamin Paz. The harvest starts soon, and due to a heavy rainy season in Honduras resulting in more dispersed flowerings, will likely extend a little longer this year. Some farms, having experienced very productive harvests in 2021, will see a drop in production, as trees recuperate. Overall, though, Ben and BSV report that everyone is feeling much more optimistic this year than last year as the pandemic appears to have receded to a significant degree. After a brutal 2021, which put not only lives but also businesses on the brink of disaster, we are happy that our partnerships in Honduras have emerged largely unscathed and are actually thriving. We thank Ramon Rodriguez, our other producer partners in Honduras and BSV, for building a resilient supply chain together!
We sincerely hope you enjoy the Holiday Filter and Espresso, along with a number of other Holiday offerings from 49th Parallel!