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Honduras green coffee: an interview with 4th generation farmer

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Honduras green coffee: an interview with 4th generation farmer

 — Hi Erlin! How's everything going?

 — Hello Lev! Everything is fine, thank you. We are almost done with the harvest!

 — That's great to hear. We will discuss the harvest and other coffee related things but first I would like to ask something about you as a Farmer.

 

 — How long have you been producing green coffee? How did it all start for you?

 — I'm the fourth generation of a coffee farmers family. I grew up with my grandparents so since I was a kid I have coffee farming knowledge. My grandfather took me to the fields and taught me how to work with coffee.

 

 — What was the most difficult during your first years as a Farmer? 

 — The most difficult thing as a farmer has always been the local prices to sell our coffee. It has been always low. Though this season the C price is high so are the local prices high. But farming supplies and fertilizers increased almost 250% in prices as well.

 

 — When we talked previously you shared some photos of the local community event that you helped to organize. What is the social role of a coffee Farmer in Honduras?

 — Coffee farmers have been always supporting local communities in whatever they can, local schools ,helping to organize festivities and other things.

 

 — Alright, I guess now it will be fit to know more about Honduras coffee itself. So tell me about your coffees. Do you produce your coffees at one farm or do you work with other landholders as a cooperative? 

 — Honduras is the 5th coffee producer by quantity of bags ,most of our coffee is considered high quality and there are many Specialty lots produced as well. We don't produce robusta. I have 2 different farms both with different varieties and different elevations and different microclimates. They are located in western Honduras, the elevations range from 1100 to 1600 masl at both farms. My farms are called Coffeerama farms.

 — Does Coffeerama Farms process its coffees on its own facility or do you use someone's processing station? What processing methods do you use and why?

 — Coffeerama farms pretty much does all the process till the dry milling. I have to lease machinery to do the dry mill at a local cooperative. It is one of my dreams to have my own dry mill station one day. All depends on how we are able to grow.

 

 — Nowadays there is a persistent trend and demand on anaerobic coffee, coffees fermented with lactic acid and other experimental techniques. Have you tried producing such coffees? What are your personal thoughts on the taste profile of these coffee lots?

 — I have just tried to produce small experimental batches. The results are excellent. The batch that I experimented on was so small that it can’t be called a nano lot!

 

 — I would like to ask about your colleagues. How often do you meet with other farmers? Do you discuss business affairs?

 — We meet with other farmers almost every day. We pretty much talk about production techniques, what agronomy to apply on the farm ,not all of our local farmers have the goal to look for direct trade markets, they know it is a great thing but it is almost like a myth for them somehow like one of those impossible dreams to reach. Their coffee mostly can be found on the local market with price depending on the middleman. I'm one of those revolutionary guys that are trying to change that and to establish profitable connections and direct trade opportunities. I'm often considered nuts for doing that!

 

 — Honduras produces vast amounts of high grade coffees. Does the government help coffee Farmers in any way? Are there any laws or regulations that do not help the Honduras coffee sector?

 — We don't receive any assistance from the government at all. They created a national institute of coffee but the farmers that support it are the farmers that pay for the operations of this institute. They take out 3 usd for every bag of coffee that we sell in the internal market. The government also creates tough rules. To get an exportation license you need to pay almost an amount of money equal to a dry mill facility price.

 

 — So they basically take money from you? Do they give anything in return?

 — They do not provide us with much, not really. Farmers have to pay almost for everything regarding coffee production and export.

 

 — Continuing this theme there are a lot of programs working on delivering you and the Farmers more opportunities for selling your coffees for fair price. Do those efforts impact you and do you see any benefits?

 — Sure. Direct trade is always great. Imagine all the positive impact that you cause to a farmer family when roasters or traders consider to do direct trade with farmers. Imagine how this impacts almost everything in the community. That extra money gives a little more buying power to families and a better lifestyle for Farmers. So yes, some of the efforts and programs help us get better deals.

 

 — I am afraid that the audience will not forgive me if I do not ask you where your coffee can be found? What are the main export markets for you?

 — At this moment I do not have one major market. I’m selling some coffee in the USA and Canada directly and that makes a lot of difference. A lot of my coffee is sold and bought locally and then resold elsewhere. 

 — Do you receive any feedback from people who work with your coffees?

 — Yes I have received feedback on my coffees, most of the time positive but I had some negative feedback of course. I pay attention to both and improve the results.

 

 — What should I do if I want to buy coffee from you and bring it to my market?

 — The only way is to contact me directly. 

            (Erlins coffees and contacts can be found at coffeeindustry.online)

 

 — Can we talk a bit about Specialty? Obviously it is a product that everybody wants to get. Let's say that I want to buy some Specialty from you. What should I do to get some?

 — Coffeerama does produce some amounts of Specialty so we could start  by sending some samples to you at our cost. You just have to let us know what kind of taste profile you are looking for in coffee and what are the requirements on SCA score. 

 

 — Great! Before finishing our meeting, can you share some coffee Farmers wisdom with the audience? Maybe something to think about?

 — I'm sure we are some heck of good farmers here in Honduras. We produce good coffee ,we plant more than a little seedling when we are planting our new plantations, we also plant our hopes and our dreams with our coffee seeds! 

 

 — Thank you for your time Erlin, I wish you a great season and hope to get some Coffeerama coffees to brew myself! 

 — Thank you for your questions. I am sure you will get some samples soon!

 

Me and Erlin are hoping that our talk was interesting and useful for you. Coffeerama green coffee can be found on coffeeindustry.online so anyone willing can contact Erlin and get some samples. 

If you have a story to share or material to contribute please write us an email here coffeeindustrylevv@gmail.com.

Best wishes and have a tasteful coffee!

By Lev Volodarsky