Finca Santa Lucia is located in the little village of Tres Pinos. This farm is owned by a 3rd generation coffee producer, Raul Rodriguez who lives there with his wife and three dogs. He inherited this farm from his father Don Ermenegildo Rodriguez who was an innovative coffee producer of his time - the first one to introduce exotic coffee varietals such as Yellow bourbon, Typica, and Caturra. Don Raul Rodriguez as a coffee producer is always pushing for better quality coffee and has begun farming new coffee varietals (Ovata and Pacamara) on the highest altitudes of his farm.
Don Raul is very excited to be able to sell his coffee directly to roasters who appreciate his hard work and family tradition. This year he decided to donate part of his profits from all his direct sales to rebuild the local school that is in need of electricity and a kitchen.
This farm is surrounded by biological forest an a national mountain reserve named Monatana de La Choca. Well-defined seasons in this region contribute to the quality of specialty coffees - the rainy season results in beautiful cherries and the dry season allows the producers to sun-dry the coffee once it is washed. The high altitude, weather, rich clay soil, and warm sun ensure that the integrity and quality of the beans are preserved from beginning to end. This farm is also a habitat for many birds, including the toucan which is the favorite bird of Don Raul. This farms employees about 75 pickers during coffee harvest and 15 permanent workers that live in the farm with their families. He pays the highest salaries in the region to all his workers.
About Honduran Coffee
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.