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We're Good Food Award Finalists!

We are so excited to announce that two of our coffees, Carino Blend and a small lot from Honduran farmer Karla Portillo, have been recognized as finalists for the Good Food Awards, an honor bestowed annually upon some of the most delicious and most sustainable food products in the United States. 

The COMSA cooperative is located in Marcala, Honduras. Through ownership of our importer, Cooperative Coffees, Higher Grounds has been purchasing large FTO lots from COMSA since 2014 for a few of our signature blends. So when we had the opportunity to purchase small lots from individual farmers within COMSA, uniquely-processed and cared for within their microlot program, we were thrilled. Each year since 2016, we have selected microlots from a handful of individual COMSA producers, who passionately work together and support each other to produce exceptional coffees. This year, Karla Portillo's honey processed lot stood out among the rest, and we're thrilled that it has been recognized with this prestigious designation.

Finca Planeta Verde, Karla Portillo's farm, was established in 2015 as a family project with a clear objective: to process high quality organic coffee in harmony with nature. As a fair trade certified farm, Planeta Verde ensures that all workers are treated equitably and compensated fairly.

Karla Portillo

Our director of coffee, Jennifer, spoke with Karla about her farm. Karla says, “The farm project is about being friendly with nature, respect for the environment is paramount, specifically with the care of fauna, birds […and] bees.” Karla’s farm also has a social project specifically to support families in her community with clothing. 2021 was her first year producing a microlot, and with the extra income from that, she hopes to expand the support she can provide for school supplies in her community as well. Further, she shared that her area is characterized by an abundance of birds, and they plant fruit and ornamental trees so that the birds can come to the farm “to eat fruit and live happily. In other words,” she said, “birds live freely, not in captivity.”

Jennifer also asked her about any special projects she was working on.

“A social project that is always done specifically is to support some families with clothing,” she said. “This year is the first time that we sell coffee in microlots, and with this support we hope to improve the bird project and support with school supplies in the community where the farm is located. Social support is mainly done with the farm's collaborators.

“Our area is characterized by the abundance of birds and birds. What we do is plant fruit and ornamental trees so that they can come to the farm to eat fruit and live happily. In other words, birds live freely, not in captivity. [Our coffee] is certified organic.”

Karla Portillo coffee Good Food Award finalist

The profile of this cup is something special, characteristic of strawberry-rhubarb streusel and wildflower honey. We enjoy it most using a 16:1 ratio of water to coffee, brewed through a well-rinsed paper filter, in a method like Hario V60 or Chemex to bring out all the subtle nuances and highlight its silky body. You can enjoy Karla’s coffee as part of our trio gift set of female Honduran producers, along with small lots from Irma Garcia and Miriam Perez, both of whom are Karla’s fellow members of the COMSA cooperative.

Carino blend coffee Good Food Awards finalist

Carino is a blend that we originally designed to be prepared as espresso, but as it turns out tastes delightful when brewed pretty much any way you like! Sweet, juicy, and fruit-forward, Carino (which is an endearing term in Spanish meaning “sweetheart” or “honey”) is a blend of honey- and natural-processed coffees. These processes, which happen very near where the coffee is grown and harvested, involve leaving some of the coffee fruit on the seed throughout fermentation and drying, resulting in a heavier body and more prominent sweetness in the final cup. We used to feature Carino as a seasonal product, but we’ve fallen so hard for it that we’ve decided to keep it in our lineup year round, altering the blend with different honey- and natural-processed coffees as needed to maintain its berry-sweet character. Currently we’re using coffees from Honduras, Peru, and Ethiopia.

Be sure to include these exceptional coffees on your Christmas gift list!