Honduras coffee: The story behind the cup and the recognition it deserves

    Honduras coffee

    Honduras coffee is the ultimate underdog in the coffee industry. Traditionally, it received little celebration. There's always been a lot of competition out there from other coffee producers. It was usually reserved for the base in blends, rather than for the main attraction.

    Things have turned around for coffee from Honduras fairly recently. It is finally getting the recognition it deserves! Let's see how everything changed. I recommend you buy Honduran coffee to make your own judgment.

    The Honduras Coffee Industry

    A Little Bit of History

    Honduras has earned itself the title "The Most Dangerous Country on the Planet" in the media. But it does make great coffee! It borders on the countries of Nicaragua and Guatemala, both producers of good quality coffee beans.

    coffee cherry in Honduras

    Coffee cultivation made its impact on the country, paving the way for a possibly brighter future. In the face of violence and poverty, coffee became an important source of income for Honduras. In 2009, following a political coup, the country faced bankruptcy. The government discovered that coffee crops could generate employment and much-needed hard currency.

    Let's go back to the beginning. Traders brought coffee to Honduras in the 18th century. By the 19th century, a few small-scale farmers dabbled with the crop. It didn't get a name for itself yet, with bananas being the number one Honduras export crop. Large-scale cultivation kick-started during the late 20th century.

    Things haven't been plain sailing since then. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated the country. It lost 80% of its agriculture and many coffee growers chose to smuggle their beans over to Guatemala. There, they fetched higher prices, but Honduras received none of the benefits or the credit. The effects of this lasted for a few years, and lots of "Guatemalan coffee" actually came from Honduras.

    The Industry Today

    All of the histories of Honduras coffee has led to this point today. Now, the country takes the title of being the 7th largest grower of coffee on the planet.

    You can be sure that you get just what you pay for. Coffee beans from this country are wet-processed before they are graded based on their quality. This grade takes into account the growing altitude and it looks like this:

    • Strictly High Grown - grown 1350 meters above sea level
    • High Grown - grown 1200-1350 meters above sea level
    • Central Standard - grown below 1200 meters above sea level

    Coffee beans grown at higher altitude are generally considered to be of better taste and quality. Higher up, temperatures are usually cooler and this allows for a slower maturation process. The slow cycle gives the sugars more time to develop, giving richer and deeper flavors. That being said, some of the world's best coffee is grown at less than 2,000 feet. (I'm talking about Hawaiian Kona coffee here, guys!)

    Honduras coffee beans grown at high altitude

    For around the last five years, coffee from Honduras has rivaled some of the best. In 2012, it was the second major exporter of high-quality Arabica beans. Move aside, Brazil and Colombia!

    Most of the coffee grown in Honduras comes from classic Arabica varieties, the "old Arabicas". This includes varieties like Bourbon and Typica. The result is a straightforward, perhaps predictable cup. Honduras farmers tend not to experiment with more modern types of coffee development. The consumer gets a distinctive, recognizable and classic cup of coffee.

    What Does Coffee from Honduras Taste Like?

    The Honduras coffee flavor profile is an attractive one. It's easy to see why consumers are now seeking out the little brown beans. Here's what you can expect when you brew a cup of coffee from this controversial country:

    • It's a treat for the nose. You'll notice aromas of vanilla and hazelnut.
    • ​Cooked to a city roast, it has a tasty chocolate flavor with hints of nuts. Some regions produce coffee with caramel undertones, perfect for an espresso.
    • ​A soft, balanced acidity.
    • ​A round, medium body.

    Reasons to Try Honduras Coffee

    Still looking for some reasons to buy Honduran coffee? Honduras is a major game player in the coffee industry, and here's why you should jump on the hype.

    • When Coffee Review examined 18 different coffees from Honduras, they were impressed by the results. Half of the coffees received ratings of 90 or over.  They described the coffees as having "old-fashioned virtues", with a clean structure and a gentle, classic complexity.
    • Honduras coffee beans have a taste that is loved by many. Perhaps the most prominent flavor is chocolate. You'll also notice woody notes, vanilla, and sweetness. A cup is smooth, aromatic and vibrant. With such tasty qualities, you can enjoy the coffee straight-up, without a need for cream or sugar.
    Honduras coffee like chocolate

    • The growing conditions make for successful coffee beans. The coffee plants grow in rich volcanic soils, transferring minerals to the coffee. Most of the coffee is grown in shade and there is just the right amount of rainfall, too.
    • A huge majority of coffee grown in Honduras is Arabica. They are high-quality coffee beans with sought after characteristics.
    • You'll be helping out the country. Honduras is yet to make a proper name for itself in the supermarkets. You might see other coffee brands labeled "100% Colombian coffee" for example. Honduras isn't at that stage yet, but I'm sure it will be soon. Help to keep the economy alive and make Honduras a safer place for its locals to live.
    • The coffee industry generates over one million jobs for locals during the picking season. You can also buy organic. Most of the coffee industry in Honduras is run by small producers. Buying organic coffee protects both the environment and local communities.

    The Bottom Line

    A cup of Honduras coffee comes with a complex story and challenged history. The taste of those classic Arabica beans may be predictable, but the story sure isn't!

    ​Coffee from Honduras has only recently emerged for its high quality, and I'm confident that it still has a long way to go. Honduras coffee beans have been proven to be some of the best. Now it's time for the public to jump on board!

    Leave a Comment: