Through our sourcing-sister company, Semilla, we’ve been able to purchase from smallholder grower communities around the Montecillos mountain range, straddling the border of La Paz and Comayagua departments. Semilla’s focus is to work alongside generational smallholders as they transition into specialty processing after decades of selling their coffee in cherry to the local market.
The soaring peaks of the Montecillos mountain range are home to the communities of Honduran coffee growers
like those in Selguapa, Chaguite, Bañaderos & Guaspololo.
Despite their status as the 4th largest exporter of coffee in the world, Honduras tends to fly under the radar in specialty. The opportunities to write new realities via coffee are perhaps nowhere larger in the Americas than this tiny country.
In the 1950s, Selguapa (1800 metres above sea level) was nothing more than a few casitas (small houses). Now, it can count over 1500 inhabitants, 800 of which are coffee producers. Amongst those 800 producers, only 3% are receiving sustainable prices for their coffee. The others continue to sell in cherry, unconvinced that there is a better market out there, or daunted by the challenge and investment of setting up their own beneficio to process their coffees to parchment.
Born in Selguapa in 1950, Antonio became one of the very first to commercially grow coffee in the area when he took over some abandoned land over 30 years ago — making him the literal father of coffee in this region.
This is then the importance of being a reliable buying partner here — not only to support the work of the producers working in specialty now, but to show their neighbours and friends that their work is being recognized and valued. This comes at a time when it’s more important than ever to support coffee growers where the next generation is leaving their legacy behind.
Almost every producer we work with in the Montecillos mountain range has been affected by the widespread pattern of migration that plagues Honduras. For young coffee growers facing a lack of opportunity, they are often lured by the prospect of the money and modernity America seems to offer. The result is a decline of young, able-bodied community members and the loss of invaluable multigenerational knowledge, skill and passion for coffee growing that is needed to develop economic stability.
Antonio's son, Jose Antonio, lived for close to a decade in the United States, before returning to Selguapa where he now is proudly investing in his farm, his family, and his community thanks to coffee.
Given the integral role of coffee in the country's economy, it has the potential to be the vessel for change. Fixing this is impossible for any one person or organization. But, we hope that our support for these communities, by purchasing their coffee at a solid price year after year and being a part of a new system that prioritizes their needs and generates real opportunities, can help producers feel motivated and inspired by their work.