Monday, April 06, 2015

Dulce Nombre parish coffee in the US - coming soon

Tonight I received good news for a small coffee coop of 15 small producers in the village of El Zapote Santa Rosa in the Dulce Nombre parish.

Samples of their coffee were toasted and tasted (cupped) in the US and we have some buyers.

The coop calls itself “Café hasta el Futuro “ which can be translated as “Coffee towards the future” or, maybe better, “Coffee looking forward”.

The price of coffee for small producers now is about 80 cents a pound. That makes life really hard for the producers.

More than a year ago Tyler Zoz, a young man, graduate of Iowa State University, came to the parish with Fr. Jon Seda from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames. He had the dream of finding a way to market coffee from small farmers in the parish to help them get good prices.

He talked to two guys – one of whom, José, followed up with people in his village, El Zapote de Santa Rosa.

The 15 small coffee farmers are forming a cooperative – which will help them work together to improve their crops as well as to market the coffee.

Some of the first members (though some have dropped out.)
They did manage to send some samples to Eleos Coffee, in Kansas City, Missouri, a small toaster and distributor of coffee. They were interested in the coffee. But, of course, no coffee was available to be sent in mid-2014.

They meet about once a month to decide what to do.

They have been able to get one solar dryer from a Honduran agency and would like more.

Recently we had ten of the coffee farmers send soil samples to a lab to be tested. We are waiting for the results and the recommendations to improve the soil.

The group already had a fund-raising event last year – a Carrera de Cintas.

José in the carrera
Four of them went with me to La Unión, Lempira, to see the work of Aldea Development, a small US group helping local coffee farmers and exporting coffee.

In La Unión with Patrick of Aldea Development 
They will be working through the channels to organize themselves legally, probably with the help of Caritas of the Santa Rosa diocese.

In January we brought samples to a processor and exporter in San Pedro Sula. The samples were not sent until March, 2015.  But today I got good news which I shared by telephone with José.

Of the producers, only 4 have enough coffee to send, though several other sent samples.  These four, in addition, also had a tasting (cupping) done here in Honduras. 

Dan of Eleos Coffee liked those four. To quote his e-mail:
…the four farmers that are ready to export are solid coffees scoring in the low to mid 80's.  They were consistent in the roast, had nice body and a balanced acidity that to me translated into a pleasant brightness, with a sweet maple aroma and in the cup a natural citrus and hazelnut.
So Café hacia el futuro will be in the United States – a small, but very important step to helping a few farmers get better prices for their labor.

Thank God. Thank Tyler and Dan Smith from Eleos Coffee. Thank all those involved. And thank the producers. And thank the anonymous donor who is helping us with some of the costs here.

This is good news.

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