Honduras/El Salvador Diaries, Part VI: Success

Our outgoing coffee director, Byron Jackson Holcomb, traveled to Honduras and El Salvador earlier this spring to meet with some of the farms we work with. This is the sixth and final in a series of his travel diaries for us.

Alejandro Valiente teaching about coffee saplings. Photo by Byron Jackson Holcomb.

Alejandro Valiente teaching about coffee saplings. Photo by Byron Jackson Holcomb.

Three professional clowns. A couple of notes on Luis and Alejandro. They are total goofballs. They call each other viejo (old man) and gordo (fatty) constantly and they spend a fair percentage of the time laughing. After 3 full days of riding around on bumpy roads through two growing regions (Metapan and Apaneca), we were pretty shot by the end of the last travel day. We had been visiting farms, getting samples, prepping samples and working pretty much non-stop. We left Luis roasting the last samples so we could meet with Oscar and discuss Encantada and Miraflores over dinner at 7pm. The next was cupping and racing to the airport.

After all the belly laughs and travel I crossed all my fingers and toes that the cupping table we were going to taste at the end of the trip was going to be great. Luis has been a Cup of Excellence (CoE) Judge in several countries and he and I tend to be pretty calibrated. We did one big table of curated samples from our trip, twelve coffees in all. Coffee might all look the same when it is brewed, but none of it ever tastes the same. Luis and Alejandro set one of the best cupping tables I’ve possibly ever had. It was like the finals day in a CoE competition. I honestly gave two 90s and several others landed in the 87 range.

We shared notes. Our notes were about the same. On the way to the airport we could still taste the delicious coffees with all the glorious fruit notes still singing on our palates.

Usually when I go to a coffee producing country, I tell my hosts exactly what I’m after on that visit. My intent is to set them up for success. Some hosts follow what I ask to the letter and absolutely knock it out of the park, others don’t read emails as closely and we end up doing what they do with everyone: generic cupping and generic farm visits. This trip with these guys was the first type. Success.

Finding people like Luis and Alejandro takes time energy and several stamps in your passport. Ultimately I feel like after this trip we (at Dallis) not only have fantastic partners, we have two more friends that work like we do, with relentless passion—and lots of belly laughs.