Honduran Coffee: Exploring the Beans, Regions, and Flavor

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Ranking as one of the top coffee-producing countries on the planet, Honduras is responsible for the majority of South American exports. Boasting a variety of flavors and tasting notes, Honduran coffee has grown to be more widely accessible.

Although South America is fraught with many challenges, their role as a highly sought-after coffee supplier has played a significant role in their national development and the overall economy.

One mug of Honduran sourced coffee will give you a better understanding of this precious commodity and why it’s worth purchasing. Let’s further explore what makes Honduran coffee, from beans, regions to flavor, special.

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region

Understanding the Historical Significance of Honduras

Coffee grown in Honduras has a special historical significance, going all the way back to colonial times. Most farmers did not turn a profit for many years, which created an economic strain on workers and plantations alike.

Regardless of its humble beginnings, three barrels of Honduran coffee were recorded at port for the first time in 1799. With over 220 years of experience under their belt, Honduran farmers have several reasons for their overall success, including soil quality, rainfall, and processing methods.

By surpassing Guatemala in 2011, Honduras grew to become the sixth largest coffee producer worldwide, third in Latin America, and the top producer throughout all of Central America.

Regardless of their global popularity, alongside the annual exportation of 6 million bags, nearly 90% of all coffee produced in Honduras is consumed domestically. And over 100,000 Honduran families are supported throughout the coffee production process, whereas a little more than two-thirds of those individuals utilize less than 5 acres to cultivate their crops.

Specialty Coffee from Honduras

Honduran Coffee Special Connection

Aside from the historical and economic significance coffee has on Honduras, what really makes it special?

Rich in flavor and sweet aroma, there is something unique about the growing environment and processing methods set forth by the Hondurans that produces a prolific cup of coffee. The most typical tasting notes found in a cup of this Central American coffee features caramel, apricot, chocolate, and tropical fruit/berry flavors.

These are all due in part to a specific combination of factors, including elevation, temperature, soil, and processing.

  • Honduran coffee is grown at high altitudes. The growing regions feature an average elevation of 1,100 – 1,600 meters. 
  • Depending on the region, overall temperatures range from 61°F to 68°F.
  • While the soil isn’t as fertile compared to the other Central American countries, Honduras boasts high volcanic ash levels.
  • Wet processed is the most common method of processing coffee in Honduras.

Overcoming Diversity

With six coffee-producing regions, the country of Honduras holds their coffee in high regard as their most prized export. Unfortunately, due to increased export taxes and poor trade infrastructure, Honduras has historically struggled to sell their coffee directly.

This led to the smuggling of Honduran coffee into other countries, including Guatemala, where it may have been mixed and subjected to other practices, which only decreased quality.

In addition to extreme poverty, malnutrition, and extreme weather conditions, Honduran coffee farmers are no stranger to hardship. As evident throughout their history, an increased risk of hurricanes poses a serious threat to the coffee crops grown in Honduras.

Another factor that may decrease production is the fact that most producers are small. They do not have access to credit to invest in preventive measures against coffee rust.

And in addition to weather, coffee rust is prominent in Central American countries, capable of devastating entire coffee-growing areas. In April 2018, studies shows that the decrease in production will come from higher production costs due to rust, and low coffee prices.

Honduran Processing Methods

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region
Image Credit: CounterCultureCoffee via flickr.com

By utilizing specific equipment, and substantial amounts of water, wet processing is a commonly used method of processing coffee – especially in Honduras.

Coffee cherries are initially sorted using water immersion, where good or ripe fruit sinks, and bad or unripe fruit floats. A screen is utilized to press the fruit, remove some amount of pulp, as well as the cherry’s skin.

Then this is completed in one of two ways: classic ferment and wash or machine-assisted wet processing (also known as mechanical demucilaging or aquapulping).

What Does Honduran Coffee Tastes Like?

Commonly inherent with South American coffee, Honduran coffee features a wide variety of flavors and tasting notes. These characteristics range from sweet to mild in taste, bright and acidic, complex, deep, full-bodied, and more.

Overall flavor has been described as caramel, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, and apricot, just to name a few. The coffee’s overall acidity is due to the soil conditions commonly found throughout Honduras, boasting rich volcanic ash. 

In the end, your overall tasting experience with Honduran coffee is heavily dependent upon both growing conditions as well as the specific region of origin.

1. Agalta

This region has a tropical climate, with a harvesting season ranging from December to March. Agalta coffee features caramel and chocolate scents and tropical fruit flavors, which makes a great after-dinner coffee.

2. Comayagua

Found at the heart of Honduras, Comayagua’s optimal harvesting season ranges from December to March. Comayagua coffee features a bright acidity and sweet citrus flavors. This region’s coffee provides a high-quality, delicious coffee with a creamy body.

3. Copán

Running along the border of Guatemala, Copán coffee is grown at an altitude between 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Copán coffee features a hint of chocolate, alongside a robust flavor, in a balanced cup.

4. El Paraíso

Producing the lowest amounts of coffee for Honduras, El Paraíso reaches an altitude of 1,100 to 1,400 meters, brushing Nicaragua’s border. Coffee from this region features sweet scents, alongside citrus flavors. You can expect a slight aftertaste, with an inherently acidic, soft-bodied cup of coffee.

5. Montecillos

As the highest producing region of Honduran coffee, Montecillo farmers produce sweet and fruity flavors, with hints of orange and peach. A strong acidity provides a velvety body, with the superior taste and quality Montecillo is respected for.

6. Opalaca

Featuring a higher altitude of 1,100 to 1,600 meters, Opalaca is a region that produces coffee with tropical fruit flavors of delicate berries and grapes. While being recognized for excellent flavoring, Opalaca coffee boasts a strong aroma and slightly acidic taste.

The Best Honduran Coffee Beans

1. Volcanica Coffee – Honduras Copan Coffee

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Volcanica coffee has a wide range of flavorful and mild single origin coffees from Central America, South America and Hawaii. One of the favourites is the Honduras Copan Coffee, grown on Mount Tennen in the Copan region of Honduras. It has flavour notes of graham cracker, brown sugar, and stone fruit. This single origin coffee is available on Amazon and via their website.

2. Spirit Animal Coffee – IHCAFE-90 & LEMPIRA

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region

Spirit Animal Coffee source their beans come from microplots in Honduras and are focused on organic produced. The IHCAFE-90 & LEMPIRA is grown from San Sebastian, Lempira, Honduras. It has a flavour notes of raisin rather than grape. It is also processed naturally, that is why it offers a clean & smooth finish, with a rich, velvety, and well-structured texture.

3. Mayorga Organics – Honduras Capucas

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Honduras Capucas is a product of Mayorga Organics, a coffee company known for roasting the best coffee beans from Latin America.

This coffee is grown in the Western region of Honduras, near the famous Mayan ruins of Copán. They roast the beans in a medium level to develop a maple and honeysuckle undertones, as well as sweet chocolate and nutty flavour notes.

4. Fresh Roasted – Organic Honduran Marcala

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region

Fresh Roasted Coffee offers a vast selection of single origin coffees. They also source then roast organic and high-quality coffee from the soaring altitudes, beautiful weather and perfect soil of Honduras. This coffee highlights a nutty, acidic and bright complexities, with additional flavour notes of milk chocolate. You can buy this coffee on Amazon.

5. Aroma Ridge – Honduras Finca La Unica

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region

Sourced from a specialty coffee farm located in Copan, Honduras, Finca La Unica coffee is a product of quality and care. This coffee has hints of sweet dark chocolate, as well as citrusy notes. The beans are picked from high altitude and are roasted medium to burst with rich and smooth flavour. This coffee is available to purchase on Amazon.

6. Intelligentsia – Honduras Caballero Family

Focus Honduran coffee beans flavor region

This coffee is grown in Marcala, Honduras, produced by Fabio Antonio Caballero. Intelligentsia is known to cup, grade, and release some of the best single-origins and blends throughout America. This made them worked on producing and roasting the cleanest, sweetest, and most delicious coffees Honduras has to offer. You can buy this coffee via their website.

In Conclusion

As a country, Honduras features a history rich in significance and diversity. Coffee has played a serious role in their overall development, as well as their economy. With all of these details in mind, it’s easy to see how Honduran coffee deserves a spot on your list of top-tier coffees to try.

Regardless of your favored flavor profile or tasting notes, you are sure to find a style of Honduran coffee to fit your needs.

Like this Article? You Might to Read: Venezuelan Coffee: A Broad Overview of Coffee Culture and History

Featured Image Credit: Naoto Sato via flickr.com