Finca Las Botijas wins Project Origin Best of Honduras Late Harvest

The 2016 Project Origin Best of Honduras Late Harvest event has come to a close.

The event took place in Santa Barbara, Honduras from 4 July – 10 July.

Panels of national and international judges critiqued 150 samples over five rounds of cuppings. Thirty-two lots scoring 85 points or more made the finals, and 20 lots were auctioned.

The winner of the inaugural Best of Honduras Late Harvest auction was José Abel Girón Dubón of Finca Las Botijas in the Comoyagua region.

His Pacamara coffee scored an average of 91.7 points across a panel of 12 international judges.

This coffee received an incredible 69 bids. Honey Coffee in Japan was the winning bidder, buying the Las Botijas coffee for US$20 per pound. As such, José receives a total of US$5620 (approximately $7407) for his 127 kilograms of auction-winning coffee.

A Red Catuai from Finca La Colmena was the second-highest scoring coffee at 90.8 points. It was sold for US$20.20 per pound, and a total of US$12,140.20 or approximately $16,000) for the 272 kilograms, making Project Origin the highest bidder of the auction.

In total, four 90-plus scoring lots were discovered from the auction, including a Catuai from Finca El Retoño with a score of 90.3, and a Pacas from Finca Cheli with a score of 90.2.

“We are humbled, grateful and exceptionally happy with the success of the event and the international support we’ve received from international media, roasters, and all our contacts in Honduras,” says Project Origin’s Habib Maarbani.

He adds that most of the coffees from the auction would have been sold locally only for US$1.50 per pound, but thanks to the Project Origin Late Harvest auction, these coffees were sold for an average US$6.27 per pound per lot.

Given the timing of his harvest, Habib says José’s Pacamara coffee rarely has access to international buyers, because most buyers come to Central America around February/March to finalise their coffee purchases. Given the lot size as well as the late timing, José could not enter this coffee into any other competition platform.

His only other option would have been to sell to a local cooperative at the New York C market price or just above, which is currently around US$1.40 per pound.

He had never had a direct buying relationship with an overseas buyer, usually just blending his coffee with others at the cooperative before being on-sold.

This year, however, José learned for the first time that his hard work and meticulous care on his farm resulted in the production of very high quality coffee.

He entered a small lot (four quintales or approximately 320 kilos) of his late harvest production into the Best of Honduras auction, and won.

Thanks to the direct contact José now has with Honey Coffee, and through this sale, José will receive enough funds to help continue caring for his Pacamara coffee trees, and producing exceptional quality into next year.

José’s farm sits at 1500 metres above sea level. It is 1.5 manzanas or just over 1 hectare in size, and is solely planted with the Pacamara varietal.

José manages the farm with his sons and has always been fussy about fertilisation and farm maintenance because the Pacamara varietal requires a lot of care and nutrients to flourish. This can be expensive. Over the years Habib says José has even had arguments with his family about ripping up the Pacamaras and replacing them with a varietal that would yield more and need less maintenance. But for some reason, he’s always kept the Pacamara trees.

Thanks to encouraging words from Rubén Nuñez and Arnaldo Giron (technicians at IHCAFE) and Don Eulogio Martínez (owner of Finca Los Yoyos and winner of the 2015 Honduras Cup of Excellence), they convinced José that producing quality rather than high volume was the way forward. The results now speak for themselves.

Habib says the Project Origin team are looking forward to seeing how this win will help José invest in his farm, and build on the relationships he now has.

“This event could not have been possible without the support of the entire Lanza family, the tireless work of our Head Judge and Cupper Rony Gamez, the National Honduran Coffee Association (IHCAFE), all of the volunteers and of course of the national and international judges,” he says.

This event aims to connect communities globally through quality coffee.

For more information visit projectorigin.com.au or the Project Origin Facebook page.

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