Here are some more pictures from my visit to the farms Naciemento and Cielito Lindo in Santa Barbara in Honduras.
Posts Tagged ‘Cielito Lindo’
As I had already been to the farm last year, I asked Jobneel if he could show me how they pick and process their coffee at the farm.
Normally they would be in full harvest by now, but due to climatic changes, they had only done the first picking and were still waiting for the main harvest to happen in March / April.
Fortunately, Jobneel had already finished the first picking and separated his lots into different varietals, like I had suggested for him after last years visit. Early in the morning I had the chance to cup two different Bourbon lots next to a lot of Pacas and Catuai and Extreberto’s Catimor varietal (IHCAFE 90) and some of the coffees from the neighbouring farms. I insisted cupping the coffes blind as always and for the fourth year in a row I selected Extrebertos coffee to be the best. I actually thought his coffee was Catuai due to a misprint on the Cup of Excellence web page about his coffee, and therefore was very surprised to learn that the coffee was in fact a Catimor varietal. (Catimor is often regarded as a low quality varietal due to its genes from Robusta plants.)
After the cupping I went straight up 700 meters in an old Toyota pickup, to visit Jobneel and Extreberto at their farms. At he end of the road on top of the mountain at 1500 meters above the sea is the farmhouse of Nacimiento where Jobneel and his family stays during the harvest.
Upon arrival I could clearly see some changes from last year. Jobneel had spent a lot of the money he earned last year on a new wet mill with 2 fermentation tanks and a washing channel, water reservoir, etc. Compared to the old wooden tanks and tiny depulping machine it was a huge improvement. The mill was just finished and Jobneel had only used it twice before I came, so I had to teach him a few tricks I learned in Kenya in November on how to properly wash coffee to remove floaters, etc. (I will post a video of his processing technique later)
I also got a 2 hour tour of the farm where we looked at all the different varietals he is growing (40 year old Bourbon and old and new Catuai, Pacas and Catimor ) I convinced him not to remove the old trees, but rather prune them so that they get more healthy. Old trees have proved a few times to produce better quality due to stronger roots and less fruit on the tree.
Walking, or should I say climbing around the farm is breathtaking, both because of the high altitude and extremely steep hills but also in terms of the scenery. The day was very cool and misty and I could only in brief moments catch the beautiful view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
In one of the steepest hills (probably 55 degrees) I met Extreberto, Jobneels father. Extreberto is 73 years old but still working every day. As a matter of fact he was picking coffee so that I could see how they process the cherries later in the afternoon.
One of the things I noticed when they were picking was that a lot of the cherries had cracked due to a lot of rain and sun. I had earlier on my trip learned that this may be a reason for phenolic defect in the coffee (Phenol tastes medicinal and mould and is a huge problem as one bean will affect the taste of a whole pot of coffee.)
I also noticed that a lot of the pickers were picking a lot of these cherries and green unripe cherries among the ripe cherries. I explained to Jobneel that in Kenya all the farmers remove the green and bad cherries from the ripe cherries before they are processed, so I suggested for Jobneel to start doing the same. Fortunately he is very commited to growing quality so he decided to start immediately. That meant we had to get on our knees and remove all the bad fruit from the good coffee before processing.
Angel (my exporter and partner of Jobneel) decided to make an experiment to see if the cracked fruit would taste like phenol, so we separated that from all the other cherries to process and taste to see if we are right.
After a long day with many discussions, we concluded that Jobneel is going to do the following this harvest:
- Separating all varietals in to separate lots so we can taste the difference and choose the best ones and pay according to quality.
- Remove all unripe, black and cracked coffee cherries from the ripe ones before processing.
- Pay the pickers a premium for being more selective and thourough during picking.
- Test the Kenyan washing technique to remove floaters and pulp from the parchment.
- Plan to build a solar dryer for the wet parchment coffee for next years harvest.
After a lovely home made dinner before the end of my visit, Jobneel politely took me aside to ask me if we were willing to pay a bit more for his coffee this year as he had made a lot of investments and I had also suggested a lot of new techniques for him to implement that would add more costs to his production. He also wanted to know if we will buy his coffee in the future and how much coffee we need from him this year. He even asked if it was ok with me if he participated in the Cup of Excellence.
My reply was of course, Yes! Please participate in the COE. Yes, we will continue to buy his coffee as long as he is producing high quality and Yes we will pay according to our agreement from last year which was between USD 4 to 6 per lb of coffee depending on the quality.
All in all I am just extremely happy, Inspired and greatful to see that Jobneel and Extreberto are still committed to do the extra work to produce quality, that they invest in their farm for the future and that they are willing to improve and experiment to develop the quality of their coffee. This is not normal to see this year when the farmers are getting payed USD 3 – 4 per lb even for the worst qualities due to the record high New York C -market prices.
I am really looking forward to taste the coffees they are about to pick, and most likely they will be in Norway in August.
Here is a little road movie that sums up my recent Honduras trip.
Hope you like it.
If you think there is a little too much driving in this video, think about how I felt after sitting in a car for 4-6 hours every day for 7 days.
After a long flight over the Icelandic volcano and spending an unwanted day in Panama waiting for my flight to Honduras, I finally made it to San Pedro Sula, 36 hours behind schedule. Nevertheless, my plan to visit Cielito Lindo was not affected, and I have to admit that I was very excited but also a bit afraid that my expectations were too high before my visit to the farm we have bought coffee from twice at the Cup of Excellence auction. I guess that not being able to communicate directly with the farmer and also hoping that he would be the “perfect farmer” was making this visit extra exciting and nerve wrecking for me.
Afer a 2 hour drive from San Pedro Sula, I finally met with Mr. Extreberto’s son who kindly showed me around his farm and then his father’s farm. I have to say that not only is their coffee beautiful, but it is grown in one of the most beautiful farms I have ever been to. The landscape is breathtaking and really impressive. I spent over 4 hours walking from 1500 m.a.sl. to 1800 m.a.sl. struggeling to get both up and down because of the extremely steep hills. I can only imagine how hard it must be carrying a lot of coffee on your shoulders walking up and down these hills, and Mr. Extreberto does it every day at the age of 71. To be honest, I was exhausted after the first 100 meters, but the beautiful scenery just made me want to see more.
Well, enough of the romantic rant. To my surprise they were still picking coffee on the farm. The climate has been changing in Honduras during the past years, and we are starting to see a similar situation to what Kenya and Colombia is having with 2 harvests per year. At Cielito Lindo they start picking coffee in november and they finish in may. That is a very long harvest and by the looks of it they are going to have a tiny harvest in late august as well, due to some rains that occured some months ago.
Another interesting thing is that they grow a lot of different varieties, and have competed in the Cup of Excellence with great results both with their Catuaí and their Catimor varietals. Up until now they have normally been blending these 2 varietals, but I suggested that they separate the varietals next year, so that we will be able to taste them side by side. They also grow some Bourbon and Pacas and are looking in to other varietals too. The biggest issue with separating these varietals from each other is not during the picking, but the lack of drying space makes it difficult not to mix them up. They need to invest in new solar dryers (raised drying beds) as they have very limited drying space. Hopefully we will be able to help them invest in this by purchasing some more of their coffee this year.
I have asked for some samples of their harvest, and apart from the coffee they have delivered for the Cup of Excellence it looks like they will have 20 more bags for us to buy if the quality is satisfying. So I am very happy that we have the opportunity to continue buying coffee from Mr. Extreberto and his son, and hopefully we will see more of their coffees in the future.
Well, that was a short report from a very interesting day. I am absolutely beat after a long day at the farm and a 5 hour drive from Cielito Lindo to Santa Rosa, Copan, where I will be staying for 2 days cupping coffee and visiting some other farmers. On monday th Cup of Excellence is on, and I can’t wait to taste all those coffees.
More pictures below.
Our 2nd Cup of Excellence coffee from 2009 just arrived and will be roasted for sale tomorrow (September 3rd.)
Some of you might remember Cielito Lindo from last year as a fruity and sweet coffee.
This year I believe it is even cleaner and more balanced than it was last year and it has even more sweetness and very delicate aromas of ripe stonefruits.
It is definately one of my all time favourite coffees from Central America.
I really hope you like it too.
We are proud to announce that we just bought lot no. 5 lot on the 2009 Honduras Cup of Excellence.
This is the same coffee we bought last year from Cielito Lindo both years it has by far been our favourite on the cupping table among the other Honduras Cup of Excellence lots. (we taste the lots blind of course)
This is why we payed the 3rd highest price for this coffee this year at USD 12.05 per pound (453g) of green unpacked and unshipped coffee.
Last year we payed USD 14 per pound, but it does not mean this years coffee is any worse in flavour.
The 2009 lot is a bit lighter than last years coffee, but shows much more complexity and an even cleaner mouthfeel. It looks like Mr. Extreberto has done an even better job this year, hopefully investing in his farm with the money we payed him last year.
Here is a small taste description of the coffee:
Intense citric and berry aromas. Sweet acidity as in stonefruits. Sparkling acidity and a firm sweet aftertaste.
When hot it has a lot of stone fruit aromas as in peach and nectarines. When it cools it developes more rose hip flavours and black currant like flavours.
Hopefully we will get the coffee within 2 months.