We’ve long been fans of coffee from this part of Honduras, incorporating it into our favorite blends. But Jose Isidro Lara’s prolific, organic farm begged to be highlighted as a single origin coffee, with all the sweet, tangy complexity that can open minds about coffee.
Jose Isidro Lara is an attentive farmer. He loves his coffee trees, but he hates dirt. He’s as fastidious about his patios as he is passionate about coffee. When we visited his farm well after the harvest season, his patio and wet mill remained spotless, like they had been scrubbed the day before.
We asked Jose how he processed his coffee: animatedly talking a million miles an hour, he detailed every step of picking, sorting, fermenting, washing, cleaning, and all the other steps important to Specialty Coffee. He stressed that the slightest degradation in his coffee would pull it off his export list — he would rather sell a coffee locally or not at all than damage his relationships with his buyers in an international market.
The farms in this region, specifically in the town of Capucas, where Jose’s farm and mill are located, are typically very productive and totally organic. The rich black soil, rainfall, and altitude are just perfect for coffee.
Traditionally, the coffee that Dallis Bros. Coffee has purchased from this region is sold in our Red Den and Unisphere blends. After meeting Jose and tasting his coffee it was clear that we needed to highlight this particular farmer and his hard work. His enthusiasm shines in the cup, and so does ours.
Continued advancements in Honduran coffee growing and processing, along with the incentives and recognition offered by the annual Cup of Excellence competition, are the genesis for more and more great coffees coming out of this nation. We’re delighted to offer the #8 selection from the 2010 Honduras Cup of Excellence, a tart lime tweak on a rich, spicy stonefruit base.
While Honduras shares many attributes of good soil, high altitude and temperate climate with its neighbors, coffees from Honduras have often suffered from poor processing and lack of exporting infrastructure. Luckily, these factors have begun to change; events like the Cup of Excellence (CoE), first held in Honduras in 2004, have helped create incentives for producers to pay closer attention to cup quality, which has improved dramatically over the last five years. At the 2010 Honduras CoE, Dallis Bros Coffee had a seat at the judging table and we were happy to see so many unique and truly beautiful coffees.
Las Amazonas ranked 8th in the 2010 competition. When farmer Ezri Moisés Herrera Urizar arrived to the La Paz region of Honduras in 1992, he believed the climate and soil were right to grow excellent coffee. Using his life savings, he purchased some coffee farms that were in need of improvement and some unplanted land, currently he and his wife Marysabel Caballero have about 28 hectares, either in production or still developing. About 90% of it is planted with Catuai, though Urizar has been experimenting with planting Bourbon in shadier sections of his land, which is between 4,750 and 5,500 feet above sea level.
The farm has its own wet mill with a de-pulper, fermentation tanks, washing area, drying patios and mechanical dryers.The mill uses water and gravity channels to help separate coffee cherries by density. The farm also has its own storage area to rest the coffee before its transported to a dry mill for final preparation and sale. All this care and attention at every step along the coffee’s journey from seed to packaging for export really pays off in the cup. Cup of Excellence judges describing it as having notes of rich dark chocolate, with a caramel-y sweetness and a spicy, dried apricot nose. The soft lime acidity is perfectly balanced by a velvety, round body.
This past year Dallis Bros Coffee had a seat at the judging table in the Honduras Cup of Excellence Competition. The competition environment is always incredible because in some cases a coffee that one group of judges falls in love with does not gain as much favor with another group, which can cost a given coffee a spot in the top final round. Reina Mercedes Claros celebrated last year when her Finca Liquidambar coffee placed 15th overall. Fortunately we were there when the same farm produced a coffee that we thought should have been in the top ten, but fell just one place out of the top finalists in the country. Reina Mercedes Claros found this 7 or so hectare farm in rough shape when she took it over just four years ago, but clearly her hard work has brought incredible results. Reaching national and international acclaim with consistently impressive outcomes at Cup of Excellence has solidified her family’s place amongst the finest coffee farmers in the country. She has 10 workers (8 are family members) all year round and about 30 workers during harvest that she brings from a nearby community.