Sourcing trip to Honduras and Guatemala

February 6, 2014

Emeran leaves today, February 6, for a sourcing and education trip to Guatemala and Honduras.

In Guatemala, Emeran will be traveling with Peter Rodriguez, the executive director of Foundacion Amigos del Café, a nonprofit organization that works to make a difference for Honduran families engaged in the coffee community through projects that support environmental practices, education and economic development. Capucas Coffee Cooperative Limited (COCAFCAL)  is a founding partner of the foundation, and also the producer of the Honduras coffee served at A&E Custom Coffee Roastery.

In 1885, Atanacio Rodolfo Romero, great grandfather of the Rodriguez-Romero family, bought big parts of land in the region of Capucas, Honduras, and began growing tobacco and a little bit of coffee for his private consumption. 75 years later, his son Atanacio Rodolfo Romero traveled to Costa Rica where he learned best practices to produce coffee of high quality, switched from growing tobacco to coffee, and set the groundwork for Capucas to become one of the most favorite coffee plantations in Honduras.In 1999 Omar Rodriguez, Antanacios son-in-law, founded the Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada, COCAFCAL.

The cooperative has more than 70 members, who are actively involved in the vision and mission of COCAFCAL. “There is still a big potential for new members,” says Omar Rodriguez Romero, General Manager of the cooperative. “But small is not only beautiful, small is our guarantee for good agricultural practices and best quality for our clients,” he adds. COCAFCAL has also obtained Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance certification in the past few years, adding value to the already outstanding quality of the coffee they produce.

Peter Rodriguez will also organize trips to other coops in the area for Emeran to get acquainted with.

According to Emeran, the goal is to meet the producers of our Honduras coffee but also find out what would be helpful, what they need, so we can put together a fundraising project to assist them directly with a specific project, whether it’s a generator, water filtration or some small project that we can assist in purchasing for them.

We have high hopes for this first visit to Capucas and hope to build a wonderful long-term relationship with the coop.

In Guatemala, Emeran will visit with Martin Keller, the manager of Santa Isabel , which is the natural processed Guatemalan coffee we had last year. The farm was founded in 1899 by his ancestors, Federico Keller and his wife Isabel.

In 1997, Santa Isabel Farm became the first plantation in the world certified by the Rainforest Alliance for achieving all the criteria for productive management, environmental conservation, and social development. That same year it was also awarded the first certification in the world for its roasting facility and coffee mill. Afterwards, in 2005, the farm started its transformation to become 100% organic and sustainable.

After her trip to Santa Isabel, Emeran will travel to Antigua, a region south of Guatemala City, to visit other coops to get more familiar with the coffee that’s coming out of that area.

From Emeran: “Part of it is trying to familiarize myself with the coffee processing in-country: how it’s grown, where it’s grown, what the concerns are of the coops. As a roaster trying to source a better quality product, part of that is educating myself and establishing relationships with the growers.”

According to Emeran, if a really special coffee is grown, having those relationships will allow A&E to be in the loop on that.

“Part of getting my Q grader certification was to have the knowledge and the industry recognition of assessing quality coffee at origin. This is a natural progression in the growth of the business.”

Emeran will be traveling with her best friend from high school, Amy, who lives in Coppan, Honduras.

Amy works for Buenos Vecinos/Good Neighbors, a nonprofit assisting local teachers in Honduras. Many of the kids she works with are coffee kids, children whose families are part of the coffee industry. Emeran hopes to show these kids the full progression of what their family’s work is and connect them with the end-result here in Amherst, NH.

During her 10-day trip, Emeran will attempt to post as much as she can, so keep an eye on Facebook for pictures and updates when there’s service. Barring that, we’ll have a full report when she returns!

Bon voyage, Emeran! Safe travels!


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