A trader will contact you with shipping and payment options after checkout. Please note: free samples are provided to commercial roasting businesses only.

Cart subtotal:$0.00
Your cart is empty

Yamaranguila Community Group

Yamaranguila, Intibucá, Honduras
Partner since: 2022 Traceable to: 52 families Altitude: 1,550 Varietals: Ihcafe 90, Lempira, Parainema

Cherries are pulped at home the same day as harvesting before fermenting overnight, followed by floating and washing the next day in the same small plastic or cement tank. Parchment is set to dry on tarps under shade nets on roofs or in backyards for 10 to 14 days.

Community Context

Yamaranguila is an area that covers ~115 square miles within Intibucá on the southern border with El Salvador. This is the coldest region within Honduras (national average 22C)—famous for being the only place that can produce strawberries—and home to Honduras’ highest elevation city (La Esperanza, 1710 MASL) and Mountain (Cordilleras Range, 2,900 MASL). It’s also home to Maira Gómez, manager of a small 80 person cooperative called Comipronil. Comipronil started as and remains at its core a healthcare network for indigenous Lenca producers in the community. But in 2019 Maira met and befriended the team at a near-by coffee cooperative called CAFESMO, who provided infrastructure and training to help Comipronil get started in specialty coffee.

In 2022 the core of the coffee community in Yamaranguila revolves around four families; those of: Lillian Gomez Orellana, Dimas Rodriguez Sánchez, David Rodriguez, & Doña Escolástica. Their farms are small, between .7 – 2.75 hectares, and so yields are small as well. But every year the group has brought home premiums, encouraging others to get more interested, and have invested in their farms, leading to steady and perceivable progress.

CAFESMO is a collaboration of 250+ members based out of Southern Honduras in the regions of Ocotepeque, where central operations provide support to members in the form of technical assistance and certification, post-harvest processing, storage, and ultimately through to milling, marketing and export. They’re proud of their work and want to make a name for their region. Their team is diverse; young and old, from across nearly all relevant disciplines. And they have momentum. All that’s lacking is financing, which they can get through pre-harvest contracts, which they can get by finding reliable repeat customers, which they can get by taking the first step and dedicating themselves to quality.

Country Context

Though European traders brought coffee to Honduras in the 18th century and by the mid-19th century coffee farms dotted the countryside, coffee doesn’t tell the modern history of Honduras: Honduras is better understood through the export of bananas. From the industry’s inception in the late 1800s, bananas defined the economic and political landscape in the country, accounting for some 88% of all exports at its peak. Infrastructure projects—roads and railroads—connected port to banana farmland, while the coffeelands remained disconnected from international buyers.

By the 1960s, though, disease pressure and soil depletion threatened the banana industry, and after the International Coffee Agreement was established in 1963 the government looked to coffee as an agricultural diversification strategy and in 1970 founded the Honduran Coffee Institute (Instituto Hondureño del Café, or IHCAFE) to develop the industry.

This proved prescient: In 1974, Hurricane Fifi devastated 60% of Honduras’ agricultural production and, with it, the banana industry. The national legislature worked to support growth of the coffee industry by passing various laws in the 80s and 90s such as the Coffee Enterprise Protection Law and Agricultural Modernization Law. Together, these laws sought to expand commercial cultivation by providing subsidies to coffee-producing municipalities for building and maintaining roads, encouraging landowners to expand their coffee production, and increasing land property titles, which allowed for the creation of additional, smaller plots of land.

This was successful: between 1970 and 1996, coffee production in Honduras increased by more than 200%, eventually overtaking bananas as the country’s largest agricultural export.

After Hurricane Mitch decimated 80% of the country’s crops in 1998 and the coffee price crisis of 1999 stressed what little industry remained, the government again intervened, privatizing IHCAFE to bolster its funding through private taxation and adopting a National Coffee Policy to improve quality and production—as well as to stem the flow of coffee from smallholders in Honduras to Guatemala and El Salvador, where they found more favorable prices for their coffee.

These efforts, too, paid dividends: while just a few decades ago, commercial coffee production in Honduras barely existed, by 2020, Honduras was the 4th largest exporter of coffee in the world behind only Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia—accounting for 5% of all coffee exports globally.

The government’s top-down approach, though, relied heavily on large export cooperatives and private exporters to build the infrastructure necessary to produce and move this amount of coffee. This structure encouraged aggressive forward contracting of exchange-grade coffees, resulting in a patchwork of near-monopolistic buyers who could compete on the scale of their mills and financial means—leaving smallholders with few options. The strategy also prized yields over all else—with quality as a casualty.

Beginning in the early 2000s, IHCAFE focused on quality by establishing six producing regions and holding Cup of Excellence auctions to incentivize specialty production. By 2017, the percentage of coffee from Honduras that was differentiated or specialty—whether via separation, certification, or a cup score over 83 points on the SCA scale—had grown from from just 10% to nearly a third of all exports.

As new generations of Hondurans grow up in specialty, more and more community-based start-ups are looking for ways to produce at a premium but need to access customers willing to seek out and commit to buying high quality coffee and foster security by building long-term relationships.

And that’s where Crop to Cup can make an impact—by supporting smallholders who are committed to specialty coffee production. While we are new to working in Honduras (we first began working in Honduras in 2020 with 2022 being our first export), this is a place where we can contribute through advance contracts that are coupled with pre-crop financing, followed-up with a solid collection and separation plan, and underpinned by the trust, verification, and communication needed for excellence in execution.