Coffee
  • Los Quetzales - El Magnífico
  • Los Quetzales - El Magnífico
  • Los Quetzales - El Magnífico
  • Los Quetzales - El Magnífico

Los Quetzales

Cupping notes

Spices, sweet and herbal.

Round body. Balanced acidity.

The Farm

The Sagastume family has been involved in growing coffee for many generations, with Pedro Sagastume currently head of the family. Pedro decided in recent years that he would divide his farms into multiple plots, thus giving his children the opportunity of managing their own coffee cultivation project. Despite this, all wet and dry processing still takes place in the centre of the family home.

Pedro’s work is focused on improvement of infrastructure and persevering with research in order to improve plots and the various processes. The most outstanding advances are the expansion of the solar dryers and the planting of new varieties such as Gesha, Pacamara and SL-28.

This Pacas comes from a plot on the “Los Quetzales” farm, managed by Yerin, the youngest of Pedro’s three children. This farm is aptly named for the common sighting of the rare Quetzal bird. With cool nights and warm days, this farm — located at 1600 metres above sea level — has the ideal microclimate for producing complex, dazzling coffees, characteristic of the Santa Bárbara region.

Benefit

This batch is processed using the Honey method. The cherries are pulped immediately upon arrival at the wet mill, then passed through a type of pulper without water channels, leaving the mucilage layer adhering to the bean. A little later, the coffee is dried with the mucilage on elevated stretchers in the solar dryer. The coffee is raked every day until the drying process is completed, usually around 20 days.

Origin

The beginnings of “origin” coffee in Honduras are unclear: reports vary as to when and how the plants first arrived in the country, although conventional wisdom places the Comayagua harvest of 1804 as a key year. Whenever the exact arrival, coffee has played an increasingly important role in the national economy ever since. In fact, during the 2009 financial crisis, credit was given largely to coffee for preventing the national government from going bankrupt.

Established in 1970 (and privatised in 2000), the Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) has sought to improve the infrastructure that would encourage the development of higher-quality markets, as well as provide hardier varieties and technological advancements, especially to the many smallholder growers. The organization is also deeply involved in the organization and marketing of the country’s Cup of Excellence competitions, which have brought a marked increase in attention and credit given to the finest lots that Honduras has to offer.

Despite lacking the reputation of other Central American coffee-growing countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, Honduras has quietly become the largest producer, exporting more volume than any other nation in the region and growing to become the seventh largest exporter in the world. While there is certainly volume coming out of Honduras, it can be difficult to find truly high quality coffees, as the country lacks the infrastructure to support the more nuanced specialty market enjoyed by its neighbours.

The Central Bank of Honduras reports that coffee is the main agricultural export for the country, with 6.1 million bags from the 2015/2016 harvest alone. Unfortunately, low prices and a reputation for inferior quality (“blended coffee”) have prevented farmers from obtaining the capital necessary to invest in their varieties, farming, milling or marketing.

Drying is a particularly difficult part of the processing chain for Honduras, and has limited the country’s growth as a true specialty origin: due to the climate, producers increasingly turn to fully mechanical drying, which undoubtedly speeds up the drying process but can contribute to general instability in the moisture content and water activity of the batches, leading to potential quality issues in the medium term.

The prominence of quality contests and high-profile auctions like the Cup of Excellence has inspired the largest and wealthiest growers to plant new varieties, experiment with processing, and make improvements to their technique and infrastructure. Salvador Sans participated in the first Honduran Cup of Excellence contest in 2004. Increased research and extension services by the IHCAFE has also contributed to a greater awareness of the specialty coffee market among professionals in Honduras, and the potential continues as attention in media and through social networks increases across the nation.

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