STONE FRUIT, CHOCOLATE, BERRY, SWEET
GROWER: ELIDA YOLANDA ROMERO
FARM: .7 HECTARES
COOP: CAFESMO (CAFÉS ESPECIALES MERCEDES OCOTPEPQUE)
REGION: HILLS OF MERCEDES, SOUTHERN HONDURAS
ALTITUDE: 1220 METERS
CERTIFICATIONS: FAIR TRADE, ORGANIC, RAIN FOREST ALLIANCE
BEFORE THE GREAT LEAF RUST THAT HIT OUR COUNTRY IN 2013, MY HUSBAND CULTIVATED COFFEE, BUT WE LOST EVERYTHING IN A SINGLE HARVEST...
Not much after that, we decided that my husband would risk the dangerous journey north, to the US, and I would stay home to raise our children. It was a difficult and sad decision, but it was also the only viable way forward for our family. Basically, we could choose between starving to death, or separating our children knowingly from their father, and we chose the latter.
My husband has been sending money ever since, and in 2019 we decided that I would start growing coffee again. In the beginning, he had to lead me through every step and teach me from afar. Now, I go to our finca every morning with lots of enthusiasm and joy.
When I’m tired or somewhat sick, the fatigue or vague malaises swiftly fade away when I’m on our land. It’s inspiring and invigorating. I never feel alone while there and I often eat my lunch near the brook that streams through our finca.
And while I’ve only been growing coffee since 2019, I’m very excited that I sold my first micro-lot in 2021 to a female roaster in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Their name is Roasted Ott. Now that I’ve managed to achieve that, I want to focus on ‘small volume – high quality’ coffees a lot more in the years ahead.
In fact, I’m a third generation coffee farmer. My grandparents grew coffee and were able to eke out their livelihood from it, as did my parents. And although nowadays my two sons and one daughter have joined their dad in the US, I still have two adult daughters who live with me and they help me a lot during the harvest season.
But the younger one, who is 23 (in August 2021), is on the verge of opening her own coffeeshop in the nearest town. She’s a barista and will be selling our own coffees there. I’m mostly thrilled, but a tad terrified too. Thrilled of course, as every proud mother would be, and terrified because it’s such a grand undertaking and although she won’t be as far away as her siblings and father, she will no longer be with me on the finca or at home every day.
Anyway, I’m much too busy to really worry and the few times that I do worry, I sit down near the creek for a while or, when I’m home, I’ll just have a cup of coffee and sit on the porch to watch the sun go down!
We, the 250+ members who together form ‘CAFESMO’, have been collaborating for many years, and have formalized our cooperation in 2016. Our individual fincas are relatively small, most of them ranging roughly from 2 to 12 hectares, but united we stand strong, and together we stand for our motto: ‘diversity and quality’.
All of our finca’s are FTO certified. Even more importantly: through careful selection, we are slowly perfecting the varieties that we grow on specific altitudes or soils, as well as our growing techniques, and are now able to offer an expanding array of specialty profiles. In the beginning of 2019, we have exported our first container of micro-lots, to the United Kingdom.
The area where we cultivate coffee, a large zone around the hills of Mercedes, is located in the very south of Honduras, a stone’s throw from El Salvador and Guatemala. Our plantations are protected by some of the country’s highest peaks.
On the west side, Cerro Pital proudly towers above our fincas, and on the other flanks, Guisayote National Reserve and the Pacayita volcano create ideal conditions to grow coffee. The omnipresence of mountains creates highly beneficial micro-climates, as well as a diverse fauna and flora on and around the plantations, with plentiful natural shade.
The region of Ocotepeque is furthermore known for its rich soil and perfect altitude range to grow unique, richly flavored coffees. We are convinced that Mercedes and Ocotepeque will continue to gain in fame over the next few years, and deservedly so.
Our members grow coffee between 950 and 2,000 meter (3,100 to 6,500ft), though most of the land is located between 1,200 and 1,600 meters. Thanks to this varied topography, we have a long harvest season, that starts late October and lasts until March.
Our Coffee Varieties includes: Pacas, Lempira, Parainema, Catuaí, Obatá, Colombia, IHCAFE90…
We have our own wet mill and dry mill and for our specialty coffees we prepare fully washed, semi-washed, red honey, black honey, and natural lots. More recently, we have started to work with Carbonic Maceration (Anaerobic), which has resulted in some of our best profiles yet. So, we have decided to increase our focus on anaerobic preparations, because we are simply in love with the richness and breadth of the profiles we get from it.
Our motto is ‘diversity and quality’ and that not only goes for our coffees. Our members are also a diverse group and each stands for their own quality. We have young people as well as less young members, women and men, someone who is a microbiologist, and one who has been an elementary school teacher his whole adult life, next to growing coffee.
CAFESMO is a proudly Honduran initiative and entirely run by Hondurans, but we collaborate with people from Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. This is why we can work directly with small importers and roasters, and why we are happy to answer any queries in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, and Dutch.
Together, we stand for ‘diversity and quality’, together we stand strong.