I spent another five days traveling this week for the second training event relating to coffee production and commercialization up north from me in the department of Santa Barbara. There isn´t too much interesting news from that, to be honest.... we talked some more about the beneficio process and ecological management of waste products from it (specifically the outer husks that are taken off first, and the ¨honey water¨ that´s left over when they wash off the fruity part around the coffee grain.) We also visited the finca of the guy who won the coffee taster´s cup in Honduras last year to check out his operation. I was expecting a big fancy facility, but actually his setup is simpler than the majority of the people in my community.
He produces very high quality coffee there, and quite a bit of it considering he doesn´t have much land, but doesn´t seem to be making a whole lot of money, which I found interesting. One of the problems is that Honduras has such a bad reputation with the world community for coffee that it´s hard for producers here to market their product as high-quality and get a good price. Another problem is that there are no governmental standards controlling the quality of export-grade coffee, and the exporters, who are rich and big and have more say in the government, don´t have much interest in changing things because they make the same amount of money to commercialize and export low grade coffee as high grade. As with almost every step of the process, it is the little guy that gets screwed.
On the other side of things, the same day we also went to visit the guy that exports the coffee of that producer who won the taster´s cup. He plainly told us that he wasn´t as interested in ¨niche markets¨ as in volume, but he is an exporter with one of the best reputations for quality in the country and seems to take a fair amount of pride in his operation. We toured the facility which was pretty big and impressive, saw some bags of coffee that were heading for Europe, and then visited for awhile about politics. He and the IHCAFE guy fired some shots at each other about where the blame lies for the problems with coffee production in Honduras, which was pretty entertaining.
I stopped and stayed the night in Tegucigalpa on the way back, and met a few other volunteers who were there. Also got to go out to eat at Pizza Hut! This would be average pizza back home, but it is most definitely the best pizza I´ve had in Honduras. The cheese is everything.
I´ve got to get moving now and get ready to head back up to my place for another good while. I will be traveling again the 23-24th for Thanksgiving in San Marcos de Colon, and I think I might not update my blog til then. Take it easy everyone. :)