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Honduras Coffee Overview | Coffee Inside

The cultivation of the coffee plant was in its infancy in the Republic of Honduras at the end of the 19th century. While there were numerous coffee plantations at the time, they were small. The soil, climate, and conditions in Honduras are the same as those of Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica.The coffee production in Honduras played a role in the country’s history and is important for the Honduran economy. In 2011, the country became Central America’s top producer of coffee.

Country Profile

  • Size – 112,090 sq km
  • Capital City – Tegucigalpa
  • Main Port City – Puerto Cortes
  • Population – 8,893,259 (July 2016)
  • Language/s Spoken – Spanish (official)
Map coffee in Honduras -coffee inside
Map coffee in Honduras -coffee inside

Producer Profile

  • Population Involved in Coffee – 1.1 million in coffee sector (according to IHCAFE; total includes seasonal laborers during harvest, as well as extension services and other direct and indirect personnel)
  • Average Farm Size – 1.5–50 hectares
  • Bags Exported Annually – 6.1 million

Honduras Coffee Profile

  • Growing Regions – 15 of the country’s 18 Departments grow coffee, but among the most prominent areas are Agalta, Comayagua, Copan, Mentecillos, Opalca, El Paraiso
  • Common Varieties – Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, IHCAFE 90, Lempira, Typica, some experimental varieties
  • Processing Method – Washed
  • Country-Specific Grading – SHG (Strictly High Grown); HG (High Grown); CS (Central Standard)
  • Bag Size – 69 kg
  • Harvest Period – November–April
  • Typical Arrival – May–July

History  of Honduras Coffee

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the “origin” story of Honduras isn’t clear: Reports vary about when and how coffee first came to the country, though conventional wisdom puts the first noteworthy harvest year at 1804, in the Comayagua department. No matter when the plants were first brought here, they have played an increasingly significant role in the national economy since then—so much so that credit is largely given to coffee for preventing the national government from going bankrupt during financial crisis in 2009.

Honduras Coffee Regions

Honduras coffees are grown mostly towards the western side of the country, bordering on Guatemala and El Salvador. Due to still being a fairly emerging market, not many regions are well recognized and most coffee is sold simply labeled from Honduras. Some of the more notable regions include: El Paraiso, Comayagua , Copan , Montecillos , Opalaca, Agalta (See map)..

Honduran unroasted green coffee beans can be sourced from most green coffee importers and brokers, given that the country now produces almost 4% of the coffee world wide.

Instituto Hondureño del Cafe – IHCAFE

Established in 1970 (and privatized in 2000), the country’s Instituto Hondureño del Cafe (IHCAFE) has sought to improve the infrastructure that would encourage the development of higher-quality markets, as well as provide hardier varieties and technological advancements, especially to the many smallholder growers. The organization is also very involved in organizing and marketing the country’s Cup of Excellences competitions, which have brought a noteworthy increase in attention and credit given to the finest lots the producers here have to offer.

Coffee processtion in Honduras

Drying is a particularly difficult part of the processing chain that has limited Honduras’s breakthrough as a true specialty origin: Because of the climate, many producer are increasingly turning to fully mechanical drying, which certainly speeds up the drying process but can contribute to overall instability in the moisture content and water activity of the lots, which can result in quality concerns over time.

The prominence of quality competitions and high-profile auctions such as the Cup of Excellence has inspired larger and wealthier producers to plant new varieties, experiment with processing, and make improvements to their technique and infrastructure. Increased research and extension services by IHCAFE has also contributed to heightened awareness of the specialty-coffee market among Honduran producers, and there is continued potential as media and social media attention increases on the nation

Coffee Honduras Potential

Despite lacking the “sexy” reputation of other Central American coffee-growing countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala, Honduras has quietly become the bigger producer, exporting more volume than any other nation in the region, and the seventh overall in the world for exports. While there is certainly quantity coming out of Honduras, it can be harder to find truly quality coffees here, though, because the country lacks the infrastructure to support the more nuanced specialty market its neighbors enjoy.

The Central Bank of Honduras reports that coffee is the top agricultural export for the country, with about 6.1 million bags from the 2015/2016 harvest. Unfortunately, low prices and a reputation for lower quality (“blenders”) has prevented farmers from gaining the capital needed to invest in their varieties, husbandry, milling, or marketing.

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