This post is a trip report from Jennifer Yeatts, HG's director of coffee, pictured above, third from the left.
I traveled to Marcala, Honduras during the third week of March to visit our partner farmers at COMSA with a group of other roasters and staff from Coop Coffees.
We had a jam-packed 5 days in which we were able to visit 5 farms as well as COMSA's wet mill and dry mill, and cup a bunch of tasty coffees with COMSA staff.
Here are just a few of the reasons that I view COMSA as a model coop:
1. They walk the talk when it comes to organic. Everything they do is approached with a lens of environmental sustainability both for the benefit of the earth and for the health of farmers.
2. Their systems are AMAZING. From recycling water used in processing for irrigation, to creating diverse ecosystems beyond coffee (bees, vegetables, lemongrass, cardamom), to a super-impressive composting program.... these guys (and ladies!) have it DOWN.
3. They're smart about science. They use chromotography (above) to analyze soil samples to make decisions about fertilizer, they create organic fertilizer that is basically alive with microorganisms, and they collect coffee pulp (the fruit removed in wet processing) to compost it and create nutrient-rich soil to put back on their plants.
4. Their microlot program is a model for how to support farmers in producing extra-high quality coffee while maintaining the production of large community lots for bulk sale. They invite farmers to bring small lots to be processed at their mills and then put them through an elaborate sampling process to determine quality, then provide that feedback to farmers.
5. They have a super cool international school for children of producers. We visited and honestly, these kids were the happiest and smartest school kids I've ever encountered all in one place. Infants--I kid you not--were starting to learn four languages. If anyone is interested in volunteering there for a month or three, they take volunteers all the time!
6. They are ridiculously wonderful humans. They housed us, fed us delicious food in their homes (they wouldn't let us pay them for food which seemed crazy), and were the most gracious and welcoming hosts I could imagine. They also love each other a lot and that was super sweet to see. Everyone we met was thrilled to be a part of COMSA.
The best way to get a sense of my trip is to check out this Google photo album. One major highlight for me was getting to visit Betty Perez's farm (we've gotten a few of her microlots the last few years) and taking a selfie with her on our last night in Marcala (see above)! And I'm super excited for the arrival of this year's microlots, which should be coming our way within the next couple months. Stay tuned!