One of the challenges with the Santa Barbara producers is that their harvest is very spread out. Although we would like to purchase their entire harvest, this sometimes presents a logistical challenge for us because we do not want to hold up the entire container for the last bits of the harvest. In 2018, with Benjamin Paz’s help, we found a good solution: this blend. We took the last of the harvest of many of the producers we work with and sent it to Canada via a separate shipment from the rest of the Honduras purchases.
This year’s blend is from Margarito Herrera, Wilmer Dubon, Donaldo Dubon, Juan Rodriguez, Elder Chavez, Isabel Teruer, Pedro Moreno, and Benjamin Vallecillo. The blend is approximately 65% Pacas and 35% Catimor. Although we prefer to showcase the individuality of each producer, in this case, this is a practical reality of trying to buy these farmers’ entire harvest. Buying their last bits of the harvest has a positive financial gain for the farmer, so it works out for all of us. One interesting and positive by-product of blending these coffees is that the resulting blend has a super interesting profile. It has the sweet nougat of Benjamin’s coffee, while showcasing flashes of the tamarind of Elder’s Catimor and acidity of Wilmer’s Pacas.
Benjamín Paz is one of three second generation cousins who are presently running the Beneficio San Vicente (BSV) in Peña Blanca, Santa Barbara. BSV was started as a large commercial mill by Benjamín’s dad, Fidel Paz. But over the past decade, Benjamín, along with his older brother Fidel and cousin, Arturo, have been redefining their company’s role and BSV has singlehandedly changed the face of Honduran coffee.
Santa Barbara is now responsible for over 50% of Cup of Excellence finalists in the country. BSV’s role over the past decade has been to encourage the many small producers to take better care of their coffee and sell it, with their help, to specialty roasters around the world. BSV provides financing, quality control, agronomy support and rewards the producers with a very good price, far greater than they could obtain in the commercial market. But perhaps even more important, BSV focuses on connecting the buyer with the producer, linking the chain and giving the producers a sense of pride in their work.
I have spent countless hours with Benjamín visiting producers in Los Andes, El Cedral and El Cielito and working with them on improving their methods and adopting a more quality focused approach. I love this kind of grassroots work and if I had more time (and didn’t miss my family so much!) I would dedicate more time and effort into helping these producers transform from commodity to a long-term relationship with a roaster. But alas, I do what I can to ensure the current set of producers we work with are happy, motivated, pushing quality forward and well rewarded.
This coffee was frozen immediately upon arrival in Calgary, to preserve its freshness.