Around 4 years ago, I was cuppping upstairs at Beneficio San Vicente’s lab in Peña Blanca Honduras, dripping with sweat, looking to the windows below as coffee was continuously being delivered to the mill via old Toyotas and other trucks. We were 3 tables in, and as dusk rolled in, so did our dear friend Juan Contreras. Juan is a 40 something dude who lives near the mill and has essentially come to most, if not all the cuppings that BSV holds each day as the harvest period comes and goes. It took maybe 3 years of knowing him before he piped up after a cupping, and told me he had been working on a drying project, and he wanted me to see it.
As it turned out, the next day I went to see what he was on about and instaled beside his house, there it was – A textbook perfect, big, beautiful drying house, designed to release the extra humidity and with plenty of airflow for the coffee.
“why didn’t you tell me about this earlier! This is flippin’ awesome!”
“Well I was waiting – This is something I was building with Mie’s recommendation” Juan explained. Mie is a dear friend of mine, was a green buyer for the company I used to work at, and now she’s director of KenyaCof… so she’s someone you should be listening to. I’m so glad Juan listened.
This project is more for Juan’s coffee for his farm in Santa Barbara, but this story continues West to Marcala, where his sister project, Proyecto Cabañas, uses the same drying methodology and assists in bringing up and coming producers to the world stage (and into your cup).
Olga Benitez received just under a hectare of land from her father and has been producing coffee with her sons since 2009. At first, we thought she grew Pacas, but after talking to BSV’s agronomist, it’s really more IHcafe 90 – an early seed selection of a cultivar called Catimor. This variety can be tasty, but the need for ample fertilization is key. I’ve seen as much as 50% of a person’s production lost because after the coffee is picked and depulped, there are empty parchment shells with no coffee inside. So it really needs loads of fertiliser to properly grow the coffee.
This washed lot from Olga’s farm, called “Eye of the water”, is depulped and fermented overnight, before being dried on raised beds in a controlled manner. This lot was harvested in March, and is still holding strong with flavours that remind us of some of the top lots from this region -Comforting chocolate and zippy sweet tamarind.