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Honduras Santa Elena Catracha Ernesto Vasquez update

by badbeard2 4. May 2016 19:31

We are out of stock of the Ernesto Vasquez's fabled coffee, our Central american fave, source of all the goodness in the Badbeard's Milk Stout making the rounds on the Portland tap scene. Word today from Royal Coffee that arrival for the fantastic (cupped a pre-ship sample...super chocolatey!) microlot 2016 will be mid-July. We got the whole 14 bags of it! Can't wait here....

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Coffee News | The Grind

Badbeard's Coffee Milk Stout on tap locally!

by badbeard2 9. April 2016 11:05

Market of Choice in Beaverton has a neat tap bar with beer and wine pours and growler-filling. Our Coffee Milk Stout, produced with Unicorn Brewing's Jason Webb and formulator John Lovegrove, is in the beer rotation as of this week. Filled some growlers yesterday, go get some! ABV 6.7, 19 IBU. Unicorn's fermenter brewing batch #2, we'll be adding the new crop Ernesto Vasquez Santa Elena microlot in a couple of weeks and for the foreseeable future...a formidable coffee and excellent companion to an awesome beer. As pictured here, ask for tap #7

Coffee beer @ MOC.jpg (2.34 mb)

Coming arrival of new crop Honduras from Ernesto Vasquez, Mayra Orellana-Powell speaks!

by badbeard2 9. April 2016 10:46

Got word this week from Mayra Orellana-Powell, marketing manager of our esteemed partners/importers Royal Coffee, that our fave producer, Ernesto Vasquez (farm "El Durazno Melocoton") of the Catracha Coffee Project in Santa Elena, Honduras, produced an excellent lot and it will be making its way here soon. Fantastic coffee...the one we used to produce a coffee beer with collaboration of Jason Webb of Portland's Unicorn Brewing....chocolatey, lively acidity, banana leaf, vanilla. Can't wait! This coffee will make it into our offering sheet as well as the next production run of Badbeard's Coffee Stout, which is currently on tap at the Beaverton Market of Choice.

Mayra is doing amazing things...REAL "eco-activism" for her hometown community of Santa she is addressing an SCAA assembly. Thanks Mayra and husband Lowell Powell and all the besties at Royal!

Coffee beers extravaganza in Portland Saturday March 12!

by badbeard2 9. March 2016 07:47

The presence of our Honduras Santa Elena Catracha "Ernesto Vasquez" is going to be in evidence on Saturday March 12 at the Baker's Dozen coffee beers/donuts/coffee event held at Culmination Brewing in NE Portland. Excited! Brewers John Lovegrove and Jason Webb of Unicorn have done an excellent job jacking up thier Milk Stout with this prized, chocolatey coffee! A preview here from last night's pre-show promo and tasting of some of the offerings.

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Updates and info on our partners in Honduras, Catracha Coffees

by badbeard2 1. March 2016 10:00

Harvest is underway in lovely Santa Elena, Honduras, from whence some of the best Central American coffees we've tasted and offered in recent years. Can't wait to get our grubby little roaster hands on the new offerings in May when they make their way to the West Coast thru Royal Coffee. Posting here the recent update/report from Royal's boots on the ground...

Visiting Santa Elena & Many of the CatrachaFarms By Kevin Stark




The municipality of Santa Elena in Western Honduras is located in the department of La Paz, at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level and is very near the border with El Salvador. Most of the Catracha farms are located in this region, and many with long views down the valley below. If you start at the family home of Mayra Orellana-Powell, marketing manager for Royal Coffee and co-founder of Catracha, and depending on which road you take around the mountains, the terrain, landscape, plants, and farms will change dramatically.

You may remember the details of this project: The municipality has approximately 88 square miles and a population of 14,800.  Coffee is grown between 1,500 and 1,800 meters above sea level, and we think the quality is very high.

Catracha Coffee is a coffee-buying social enterprise that accesses the specialty coffee market for smallholder farmers. The quality project is an initiative focused on supporting the production of specialty coffee among Catracha Coffee farmers in Honduras.

As I’m writing this, data loggers are running on four farms, in the solar dryers, and near drying patios—installed by farmers (Rosibel Vasquez, Santiago Lopez, Luis Nolasco, and Porfirio Lopez) with the help of Arvin Juan and Lowell Powell with Catracha.

Arvin and Lowell have also encouraged farmers to add more ventilation to their solar dryers and use breathable black mesh under the coffee parchment while it dries to promote slow and even drying in an easy to clean environment free of unwanted contamination. 
“People believe drying coffee in 5 days is good because it opens up space to dry more coffee, so the challenge is to convince a producer that 15 days is better because the quality will be better,” Lowell said to me.

The intention of the data loggers is this: they will map the post-harvest process and collect data at each step, from receiving, pulping, fermenting, drying, and storage.  “Many farmers have their particular way of doing things, and our goal is to capture the uniqueness from farm to farm so we can learn from each other and get even better,” said Orellana-Powell.  

In its first year, Catracha worked with 13 farmers. The following year it was near 30 producers and Mayra is estimating closer to 60 people this year. This is evidence of a great buy-in from people on the ground in Honduras.  

On the other side of the business, Catracha is seeing similar excitement from roasters and the industry. You will remember Mayra’s talk at last year’s symposium:

I had a chance to get the perspective of some of the coffee buyers on this trip (who, I should add, have been offering extremely valuable guidance and support for this project). Many of the buyers agreed that the social aspect of this project—the community building, the focus on transparency, bringing more money back to the producer—is as appealing as the quality aspect of the project (which again, we think is pretty great). The organizing, the market connection, the producer investment is all happening in an exciting way.

What is special about Santa Elena? So many things, but not the least of which is the coffee. The work is beginning, and it is important that Catracha can show continued improvement in quality over the coming years. I’d like to sketch out how we are going to track that progress.

Let’s start with what is happening on the coffee farms. I mentioned some of the ways that data is going to be captured. This is important, baseline information. Going forward, when Catracha experiences quality outliers—coffee that exceeds or does not meet expectation—Catracha should be able to drill into the processing and farm information to identify why and adjust its methods. This will be valuable feedback for farmers and can help explain quality variance, something that can be a mystery.
Giving advice to farmers in Santa Elena based on successes seen in other growing regions of the world could be risky because every growing region can have its own unique micro-climate and favorable factors that are not necessarily transferable to Santa Elena.  Having data to analyze before suggesting possible strategies for quality improvements will reduce costly mistakes.     
This project is bringing together individuals from wide ranging backgrounds.  There are, of course, the coffee professionals. The Catracha team is being guided by advice from experienced coffee buyers. There is a pretty healthy debate happening within the Catracha community about processing techniques, pricing and transparency.

Catracha is also working with John Casazza, a consultant in sustainable agriculture development and food systems, John is working with farms to identify best practices for shade, tree management, application of compost, and ways to protect against la roya or leaf rust. More from John in a future post, but he clearly identified the coffee value chain for Catracha. See below:

And most importantly, Catracha will work with close to sixty producers this year, almost double from 2015. According to Lowell and Mayra, the new additions to the Catracha group have been wonderful to work with and their coffee looks spectacular.



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Coffee News | The Grind

Honduras Santa Elena Catracha pages link

by badbeard 29. June 2015 11:16

Our friend Mayra Orellana-Powell, who herself comes from Santa Elena, Honduras, embarked on a very special mission to aid coffee farmers there. Her story can be found here

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Coffee News | The Grind

Coming week of 6/29 new arrivals

by badbeard 26. June 2015 14:47

The coffers continue to swell with great coffee. Samples of favored Central Americans have been fairly middling-to-disappointing but we landed a prize, a microlot from Honduras, Santa Elena Catracha and farmer Adan Hernandez Amaya (several members of the family having eponymous farms under the Catracha banner). It's an excellent, high-scoring (90) Central with an even more excellent story which I will post on Moinday when added to the website!

Also getting in a very nice single origin decaf Mountain Water Process from Colombia...sweet and good fruit notes. Stay tuned!

Honduras Santa Rosa in and delish

by badbeard 23. March 2013 15:54

This sweet, caramelly coffee from Honduras's Beneficio Santa Rosa is a great find...Honduras has been off my radar for too long, apparently! The two distinct lots I took in are ever-so-slightly different..#115 has a little more Nutella and cacao in the palate. Might even put through the espresso machine this coming week, as it is lower in acidity than most of my Centrals.

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Coffee News | Food and Drink | The Grind