El Misterio is one of the newer coffee farms in the area and it is one of the few in Honduras to produce Typica and Pacamara in addition to Yellow Catuai coffee varieties. This farm was the winner of a local Taste of Harvest competition in 2017. The high altitude helps slow the growing of the cherry and creating higher density specialty coffee beans. The farm sits in an ancient volcanic area, similar to the best conditions found around the world, creating fertile soil for the coffee trees to thrive.
Honduras has rebounded from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 in a big way. At that time 80% of their total agricultural production was lost. Today they are the largest coffee producing country in Central America and have moved into 6th position worldwide. The reason for these gains has a lot to do with the quality of their coffees. Some stories trace coffee production in Honduras back to around 1804. Typica varieties probably made there way from Martinique to Honduras as is true of other areas throughout the Carribean and Americas.
Production has been influenced by internal conflict, natural disasters, and as well as the roya fungus, but the determination of the Honduran people have overcome all of these challenges to produce amazing coffees at large quantities. Coffee is their most important cash crop now. There are well over 100,000 registered coffee farmers in the country and over 90% of them are smallholders with 2-3 hectares or less under production.
Honduras has received a lot of attention from the specialty coffee world as well as from commercial coffee roasters. This has helped the people there measurably, but most farmers are still living in poverty and farm worker wages are still very low. This is important. For many of the last 20 years, farmers mainly in western Honduras, smuggled their coffee into Guatemala to be sold there as Guatemalan coffee. Coffee from Guatemala had a better reputation at the time and people would pay more for it, even if it wasn't really Guatemalan. (This situation happens around the world.) The situation has changed, but poverty is still a major issue in Honduras where over 12% of the whole country's population is employed in the coffee industry around harvest time.
The poverty and past history of conflicts in Honduras have helped fuel a violent gang culture there. In recent years, Honduras has played home to the murder capital of the world. It remains near the top in murder rate today. Gang members can out-number police by 3-to-1. The coffee industry can't solve all of these problems, of course, but we can play a role by having a positive impact.