Honduras – Altos de Erapuca Organic
In the coffee world’s hall of fame, Honduras is rarely found at centre stage. While it has wonderful conditions to produce very good coffees: high altitude, volcanic and fertile soils, an ideal climate and plenty of expertise it does tend to find itself in the shadows of its neighbours, due to a lack of investment and inadequate infrastructure. This means that we have to work extra hard to find the top quality speciality coffees that Honduras has to offer, but when we do it’s well worthwhile. And, for the local Honduran economy where coffee is already important, the good news is that there is plenty of room for growth.
Finca Altos de Erapuca is one of a handful of farms that we have picked out. It’s a new coffee farm established in 2008 with it’s first crop harvested in December 2013. Previously the land had been given over to cattle but with an altitude of 1,300 to 1,360 meters above sea level, owner Carlos Efrain Paz Sevilla, recognised the land’s great potential for producing high quality coffee. With many years’ experience in coffee, through the management of other family farms, Carlos planted the farm entirely with Catuai making the farm something of an oasis in a land of Cattimore – a varietal that has greater rust resistance but much less complexity in the cup.
The farm is located in Copan, on the slopes of Honduras’s second highest mountain – Erapuca. It is a dramatic volcano-like mountain with a conical shape and, though the slopes don’t benefit from mineral rich volcanic ash, the land is fertile with rich soils. The mountain’s peak reaches 2,255 meters above sea level. While Finca Altos de Erapuca is a big farm it has 264 hectares of protected rainforest and just 24 hectares of healthy looking catuai coffee. There are some signs of rust, as in almost all cases in Central America, but Carlos is managing it well using approved organic techniques. Carlos believes he must protect the land for future generations and has made the brave step of running the farm in compliance with organic production rules and methods.
There is a house for permanent staff on the farm which is powered by solar energy but other than this the farm is simply natural rainforest and a little coffee. Following careful red cherry selection by specially trained pickers, the post-harvest operations of washing, drying and milling take place further down the mountain.
Finca Altos de Erapuca is now both Rainforest Alliance and Organically certified.