This is a washed SHG grade microlot from producer José de la Cruz's farm Finca El Barracón in the Montecillos region of south-west Honduras. This lot was produced as part of a collaborative project with Beneficio San Vincente. Read more about this project in our blog post, “New, Different, Exciting: Microlot Separation and Prep in Honduras.”
José de la Cruz Moreno is a small farmer from the community of El Cedral, Santa Barbara department. José moved to the area in his youth when it was very sparsely populated and land was affordable. He used the land to grow corn, beans and vegetables for many years but gradually this land was redistributed to other farmers as part of an agrarian reformation project by the new government. Around 25 years ago, with the small amount of land he had left, José started cultivating coffee. The first few years went well, even though the coffee was conventional quality the market was stable and sustainable. Unfortunately one of José's children was then diagnosed with a mental illness which required expensive ongoing treatment, forcing him to sell even more land until he had just 0.7ha remaining (the current farm). Then a few years ago José's nephews encouraged him to try producing specialty coffee, since they already had a buyer in place and a few years' experience with this new market. His nephews taught him how to prepare his coffee for specialty buyers to gain a higher price - from agronomy, to harvest, through to processing and selection.
Finca El Barracón is situated at 1,580masl and includes the varieties of Pacas (70%) and Ihrcafe 90 (30%). This lot is 100% Parainema.
All of Jose's processing is done on site, without the use of a centralised beneficio (mill). Ripe coffee cherries are pulped and then fermented in plastic bags for 18-32 hours. It is then washed in a wooden 'canoe' until the remaining mucilage has been removed. After washing the coffee is dried in the sun on clean tarp for approximately 7 days.
This coffee comes from the village of El Cedral on Santa Barbara Mountain, a mountainous massif with an area of 121.3 km2 and a maximum height of 2750 meters above sea level, which is mostly a virgin forest reserve declared as a national park since 1987.
Most of the native people of the area began to grow coffee since the 1940s, mainly in the lower areas, although it was always a secondary crop. From the 1970s, coffee became the main crop in the area, promoted by the rise in prices at that time, with Bourbon being the most widespread varieties. Since then coffee has become the basis of the local economy for these communities, as well as an important cultural element.
The Montecillos region is notable for its high altitude and subsequently cool temperatures, which allow coffee cherries to mature slowly and develop increased complexity in the cup.