This is a washed SHG grade microlot from producer Domitila Sarmiento López's farm Finca Estefanía 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.”
Domitila Sarmiento López is a small farmer from the community of Los Andes, Santa Barbara department. Domitila began coffee farming with her husband in 1970 and had the responsibility of overseeing the beneficio (mill) and taking care of the young workers. Sadly 8 years ago, her husband passed away, leaving Domitila responsible for the management while her son manages the field work. Two years ago a friend told her son that he was selling "specialty coffee" and it was going very well. Curious, Domitila encouraged him to try and improve the quality of some small batches. Although she initially had some doubts, they worked hard and sent of samples which came back with positive feedback, which has changed the course of their strategy ever since.
Finca Estefanía is a 7.7ha farm situated at 1,450masl and includes the varieties of Catuai (50%), Pacas (40%), Ihrcafe 90 (10%) and Bourbon (5%).
Ripe coffee cherries are pulped and dry-fermented for an average of 14 hours at the family's beneficio (mill). It is then washed 3-4 times, or until the remaining mucilage has been washed off. After washing the coffee is pre-dried on raised African beds for 4-5 hours and then transferred to a sheltered solar dryer/greenhouse where it dries for an average of / days. The parchment coffee is turned every 20 minutes to ensure consistent drying and prevent over-fermentation or mold formation.
This coffee comes from the village of San Jose de Los Andes 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.