Honduran Coffee: Brands and Buying Guide
Given its perfect coffee-growing climate, it’s no surprise that Honduras produces some incredible coffee. The only surprise is how long it has taken this origin to emerge on the speciality coffee scene!?
In this review, we’ve rounded up four great Honduran coffee beans for you to try. They’re of all styles and flavours, so you’re sure to find a favourite.
At A Glance:
The 6 Best Honduran Coffee Beans
Honduran coffee beans are now on par with the best whole bean coffee in the world after years spent in the shadows of other single-origin coffees from Central America, like Guatemalan coffee, and coffee from Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Finally, these beans come into its own.
|Clumsy Goat Honduras||
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|Redber Honduras SHG Finca Santa Rosa||
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|Suma Fairtrade Organic Honduras||
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|Roast Shop Coffee Honduras||
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Indeed, a recent lot of coffee from the origin achieved record prices at auction (1).
With Honduras breaking the record, it sends a strong message to the specialty coffee world of its unique place as a top coffee producing country.
Keep reading about six stunning Honduran coffee beans to make sure they’re well worth paying top dollar for.
Clumsy Goat might have a playful name, but this brand is very serious when it comes to its coffee. What started as a mission to source some of the best beans from around the world ended up as an appreciation of the entire coffee production process and everyone involved in it.
As a result, all Clumsy Goat beans are sourced ethically and sustainably, with a strict Fairtrade only policy. Fairtrade isn’t just about getting farmers a good price for their beans (but of course this is important), it also means better working conditions and more environmentally friendly production (2).
Fairtrade is the vein that gives oxygen to all cooperatives.
One of the biggest Fairtrade cooperatives in Honduras is COAGRISCAL, with around 700 farmers in four of the country’s major growing regions. These 100% Arabica beans are sourced from farms in this coop, combining Catuai, Typica, Lempira and Obata varietals for a well-balanced blend.
The beans have been treated to a medium roast, bringing out flavours of nuts and caramel that develop well when paired with milk. With a creamy mouthfeel and mild sweetness, this is smooth and easy-drinking coffee.
The El Paraíso region in the south of Honduras is prime coffee-growing territory. With good rainfall, a warm climate and altitudes of around 1000-1400m, it’s now producing some of the country’s best beans. (An El Paraiso Parainema took out the 2017 Cup of Excellence).
It’s here you’ll find the farm of Mario Segura, where he cultivates Catuai, Yellow Catuai, Lempira and Pacamara across 360 hectares. Segura has developed a business that’s both ethical and sustainable. As well as minimising water wastage with a state-of-the-art wet mill, large tracts of the farm have been set aside for local wildlife to help encourage biodiversity. Profits are shared equally among the farm’s 800 employees, so when you purchase these beans, you’re not just helping a single business, but a whole community of workers.
Grown at 1300 metres above sea level, these beans have had the time to develop complex flavours. On the palate, you can expect the orange citrus notes and creamy mouthfeel that are typical of El Paraiso beans, along with flavours of nutmeg and chocolate. Semi-wash processing brings an added intensity to the coffee as well as enhancing the bright citrus acidity. Redber doesn’t store any roasted beans, instead roasting by hand as each order arrives. Your coffee is then packed and shipped the same day so it arrives as fresh as possible.
If you’re looking for a coffee that’s ethical on both sides of the equation, the Honduras beans from Suma could be just the thing. If you’re not familiar with Suma, it’s a cooperative wholesaler that’s been running since the late 1970s, now with 200 employee-owners who all share in the profits. Suma doesn’t just do coffee, but hundreds of whole foods, with a focus on vegetarian, organic and ethical products.
The brand has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to modern slavery. So you can rest assured knowing that all Suma’s beans are certified Fairtrade and organic, and sourced from cooperatives. In the case of these Honduran beans it’s the Central de Cooperativas Cafetaleras, which represents and supports around 6000 small family-run farms.
Brewing will bring out the notes of hazelnut and dark chocolate that you can find in many Honduran beans. With a roast that’s “a little darker”, you’ll notice there’s low acidity, and a sweetness that presents as a caramel finish.
Roast Shop Coffee has a mission to “get the UK drinking better coffee with a fair price tag”, and in terms of price you can’t get much better. But that’s not to say they take any shortcuts on quality. The company’s coffee comes from some of the world’s best growing regions, and is sourced ethically, sustainably and seasonally. Once it reaches the UK, it is stored until ordered, then roasted in small batches by hand.
For its Honduras beans, Roast Shop Coffee has headed straight to the country’s famed region of Marcala. Coffee from this area is often described as velvety and citrussy, and these beans are true to type. The first taste will deliver a bright acidity that’s complemented by an orange aroma, which develops into a smooth, soft finish.
As beans are sourced strictly seasonally, they might not always be in stock, but if you can’t get your hands on the Honduras, you can try other premium coffees from countries including Costa Rica, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
How to Choose the Best Honduran Coffee Beans
There are many ways to find the “best” single origin coffee beans from a region. You can look for either famous roasters, high cupping scores, or award winners. It’s all legit! But, really, the best Honduran coffee is the one that tastes best to you.
So I say, look for flavours, roasts, and varietals you enjoy. Keep reading to find out how.
A Brief Look at Honduran Coffee:
Coffee has long been grown in Honduras, but people mainly used it in blends due to poor quality control. Meanwhile, speciality coffee from other South and Central American coffee growing regions and Jamaican coffee from the Blue Mountains grew in prestige.
In 2000, the Instituto Hondureño del Café was founded to improve Honduran coffee production quality and promote it abroad. And the results are impressive.
There are now nearly 90 million coffee trees in Honduras, employing 2 million people during the harvest season. Coffee is grown throughout the country, but the six leading coffee-growing regions are Copan, Opalaca, Montecillos, Comayagua, El Paraiso, and Agalta (3). There’s also the municipality of Marcala, the first region to receive a “protected origin denomination” for coffee.
Honduran coffee is classified both by growing region and altitude.
Higher altitude beans are considered better quality because they grow more slowly. That’s why they’re denser and more flavour-packed.
The grades are Central Standard (0 – 3900’ above sea level), High Grown (3900’ – 4400’ above sea level), and Strictly High Grown (4400’+ above sea level). Honduras also has classifications for Bird Friendly and Shade Grown coffee.
Look at Roast Levels and Flavour Profiles!
Much like coffee from the Dominican Republic, Honduran coffee is very versatile, with a mild sweetness and pleasant flavours of nuts, chocolate, and ripe fruit. You can find great Honduran coffee with nearly any roast level and flavour profile you enjoy, so don’t be afraid to try anything.
- Dark roasts often feature dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and red fruit flavours.
- Medium roasts taste of nuts, tropical fruits, and milk chocolate, sometimes with orange citrus acidity.
- Light roasts are still characteristically nutty, but they’re brighter, with more fruit and floral notes.
Varietals and What They Mean
At this point, most coffee lovers know about Arabica and Robusta beans. Arabica is considered the higher end, with sweeter and more complex flavours. Robusta is cheaper and easier to grow but can have a harsher taste.
But there’s more to the story. There are different varietals of Arabica, each with its own unique assets.
The most common are Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, Catuai, and Pacas, all of which are grown in Honduras, but there are dozens more. If you love speciality coffee, seek out different varietals to see which appeal to your palate.
Processing Method Impacts Flavour.
As you start buying high-end whole bean coffee, which I wholeheartedly recommend, you’ll notice that the processing method is usually specified. That’s because it impacts the flavour of the beans, so it’s worth understanding.
- Natural or dry-processed coffee beans are dried while still in the coffee fruit, called the cherry. As they dry, they absorb more sugar from the fruit, so they tend to be sweeter. However, they’re also more prone to rot and off-flavours, so dry-processed coffees need to be carefully watched.
- Washed or wet processing removes the bean from the cherry before drying. This method is more common because it’s easier to control, more consistent, and yields clean tasting coffee.
- Honey processing falls in between the two and can highlight the best of both. The coffee fruit is partially removed to produce a sweet, complex, and clean tasting brew.
Honduran coffee now measures up to that of its more well-known Central American neighbours. Speciality coffee in Honduras is widely appealing thanks to mild, sweet, and clean flavours, with notes of chocolate, nuts, and tropical fruit.
Sounds appealing? Give Honduran coffee a try, starting with our favourite this year, Clumsy Goat’s Honduran coffee beans.
Honduras exported 4,173,000 sacks of coffee in 2014, which amounted to about 4% of the world’s supply and made them the 7th largest coffee exporter. However, hurricanes and other erratic weather have affected coffee production in many growing regions (4).
Honduras is known for growing bananas, tobacco, sugar cane, and corn. And coffee, of course. Honduran farmers are sustained by planting genetically modified corn, which is illegal in Central America.
Bird-Friendly coffee is coffee grown in a way that promotes habitat for migrating birds and, in turn, biodiversity in general. The certification is awarded by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and has several specific criteria.
- Brown, N. (2017, June 26). At $124.50 Per Pound, Honduras Coffee Breaks Cup Of Excellence Record. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2017/06/26/at-124-50-per-pound-honduras-coffee-breaks-cup-of-excellence-record/
- Mendoza, M. (2019, May 23). “I Built Everything”: Farmers in Honduras Fight for Their Coffee Lives. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/05/23/i-built-everything-farmers-in-honduras-fight-for-their-coffee-lives/
- Guerra, G. (2017, August 7). Introducing the 6 Coffee Regions of Honduras. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/08/introducing-the-6-coffee-regions-of-honduras/
- Perez, M.G. (2020, December 1). Honduras Coffee Growers Face Escalating Woes After Hurricanes. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/11/30/hurricane-damage-estimates-emerging-from-the-coffee-lands-of-honduras-and-nicaragua/