As Bergen Tech students, we run on caffeine. But as we rush out of Dunkin Donuts in the morning, we pay little attention to where our coffee comes from. It turns out, a large portion of Dunkin Donuts coffee comes from Latin and Central America.
In particular, the Honduran coffee market has expanded in recent years. In 2011, Honduras surpassed Guatemala and became the largest coffee producer in Central America. That same year, Honduras became the third largest Arabic coffee producer in the world, behind Colombia and Brazil. As coffee production expanded in the nation, the quality of coffee also improved. The majority of the produce is now grown by small, specialized farmers located in areas of high altitude throughout the country.
In 2011, Honduras surpassed Guatemala and became the largest coffee producer in Central America.
So why do we not find Honduran coffee at local supermarkets or as single-origin coffee at the Starbucks Reserve? In most cases, the inadequate infrastructure in Honduras is a barrier to its distribution of coffee. The lack of access to ports forces producers to sell their coffee locally at low prices instead of exporting their produce as specialty grains. In other instances, producers smuggle their coffee to Guatemala to export at higher prices.
To gain recognition amongst the largest foreign markets, Honduras joined the annual Cup of Excellence, a competition that rates and auctions the highest quality coffees around the globe. In the 2016 Cup of Excellence, analysts rated five different Honduran coffees with a score above 90 on a scale of 100. In the competition’s coffee auction, the Honduran El Puente broke the Cup of Excellence’s price record by selling at $120.10 per pound. And because other farmers in the competition now have direct access and relationships with buyers, they can sell their coffee at higher prices as specialty products rather than as commercial blends.
The expansion of fine coffee production has also affected Honduran culture. Recently, the nation has been flooded with coffee shops like Cafetano, at which coffee grains are toasted daily to ensure the fresh taste of the brew served at shop. Furthermore, the quality of coffee is complemented by luxurious atmosphere. Similarly to coffee culture of the United States, Hondurans now look for the experience when drinking coffee. People want their coffee to be grown at high altitudes for a finer quality. People want the coffee beans they buy to be handpicked and evaluated daily. People want to know that in addition to purchasing fine coffee, they are also getting the culture of coffee itself.
Coffee production in Honduras has transformed the nation’s economy and social aspects. In addition to opening opportunities for coffee producers in domestic and international markets, high quality coffee production has improved the life of consumers who drink coffee as a method of integrating themselves into society. In the aftermath of the political crisis of 2009 in Honduras, coffee has empowered the nation to redefine its economy and social principles to build something positive.
Author: Saira Reyes