Cocafelol is committed to the advancement of women
Meet Delmy. She’s a force of a woman. She is the logistics manager for Cocafelol Cooperativa in Ocotepeque, Honduras near the El Salvador boarder. The co-op is very progressive in hiring women throughout the company, supporting women roasters and entrepreneurs, and launching women-only co-ops. Delmy is president of the local chapter for women producers and was pivotal in the launch of Anaphor, a co-op for women. Delmy will not allow a man to sell coffee under his wife’s name unless he deeds her the land and shows Delmy the deed. She coordinates a coffee school for farmers and their children. They have three stages of classes based on age: growing, cupping, and cafe skills. Her daughter has just advanced to the barista classes and loves it. In addition, she has her own coffee farm which she manages. We had the pleasure of touring the co-op in March, with Delmy as our guide.
Honoring the environment while improving through research
Cocafelol is committed to sustainability. They are creative about finding ways to reuse waste products from coffee processing. They make their own organic fertilizer from the coffee cherries and honey water produced during the depulping process. The cherries that surround coffee beans are rich in nitrogen and other nutrients. The “honey water” is the water used in the depulping process, removing the cherries off the seeds. This water is rich in nutrients from that process.
The farmers at Cocafelol have unique blends of organic fertilizer that they apply for specific needs of their plants and soil. An inspector takes dirt samples and recommends to the farmers which blend to put down. The co-op offers this service to its members for free, and to non-members for a small charge. They also have a bio-digester to create bio-fuel from fermenting coffee cherries. Delmy is working on a project to attached baby bottles of the fuel to camp stoves so pickers can heat up their food while working.
Supporting the underdog
With all of these amazing projects, why does Cocafelol have such a hard time getting noticed? They are doing all the right things, yet they still have a lot of coffee.
For starters, they are just beginning to focus on high quality flavor. Norma Lara, a producer we support, is the tasting room manager at Cocafelol. She roasts and prepares all the farmers’ samples to be cupped. Cupping coffee is a huge way in which farmers can improve their methods. It helps them understand the vocabulary American buyers use when they are looking for product. It also protects growers against being taken advantage of in deals with exporters and buyers. If growers can taste quality in flavor according to buyers’ standards, they will know when they deserve a higher price for their beans.
I think Cocafelol is so inward looking at what they can do for their members and the community around them, that they are not marketing their “brand” enough. They are located on a main highway, so the mystique is diminished. It is dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet season. It is surrounded by big walls and a rusted metal gate. Ambiance is low, but heart is high. They have all the right components, but they are not picture-ready.
Cocafelol at A&E
I am so proud to be supporting Norma and the work of Cocafelol. I hope they continue to increase the level of quality of their coffee and reach out to green buyers as they make their yearly trips to the states. Norma was able to purchase half of her sister’s farm recently, which allowed her to pick an extra 10 bags this year. She honey-processed those 10 bags to reach an even more lucrative specialty market. I sent samples of her coffee to InterAmerican Coffee Importers, and am very happy to say that all of Norma’s coffee is mainly sold! We are picking up as much as we can here at A&E. Norma’s attention to cupping has made a huge impact on the quality of her beans. Her coffee has a sweet richness and light acidity that we believe our customers will thoroughly enjoy. Stay tuned for the arrival of Norma’s coffee at both our cafes!