Coffee Facts

Honduran Coffee: Rich & Fertile Soil For Delicious Tasting Brews

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Honduras is a country in Central America, nestled pretty cozily between Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Until Recently, Honduran coffee was unremarkable. The country relied on sending its coffee over to  Guatemala to sell due to a lack of infrastructure to sell it themselves.

But, in just a few short years, Honduran coffee has gone from being unremarkable to undeniably fantastic and is now known the world over. Honduras is now proving to be genuine competition for the other top-producing countries.

Want to know how? Of course, you do — it’s all very fascinating stuff. Keep reading to get the lowdown on Honduran coffee, plus get a few product recommendations, too!

At a Glance: Honduran Coffees

Honduran History

Honduras isn’t a stranger to coffee production, as coffee has historically been one of the country’s leading exports alongside bananas, shrimp, apparel, and cigars. But, until the turn of the millennium, coffee production was aimed at the commercial market. As a result, Honduras was seen as an exporter of low-quality coffee rather than specialty coffee, unlike its Central American neighbors. 

The absence of specialty coffee producing experience combined with Honduras’ infrastructure and a lack of quality control meant that potential buyers weren’t buying beans from the country’s growing regions. 

In addition, around  80 percent of the country’s agriculture was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Many Honduran farmers felt they were wasting their time marketing their coffee since they weren’t seeing any financial benefit, so they continued to smuggle it into Guatemala for a higher profit instead.

Even with the odds stacked pretty heavily against it, Honduran coffee was able to fight back. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the government implemented a tax on coffee exports, which helped direct essential funding back into coffee growing infrastructure. Specifically, this tax helped fund roads within remote coffee-growing regions.

As you can imagine, this provided many farmers with a financial incentive to continue growing Honduran coffee in the hopes that they would be able to live a more comfortable and stable life. Slowly but surely, Honduras began turning its coffee production around.

How It’s Grown

Before getting to our product recommendations, we want you to understand the Honduran coffee experience from start to finish and how exactly those green coffee beans make their way into your cup.

Honduras Coffee Plant

Who puts in all the hard work? 

After a much-needed revitalization from the Honduran government, more than 100,000 Honduran families are involved in the coffee farming process. That means that family labor plays a huge role in how  coffee beans from this country are produced. This is changing, however. 

Like in  Zimbabwe, the average age of Honduran coffee growers has decreased, and these people are generally ten years younger than they were a decade ago. The country’s younger generations have taken an interest in producing high-quality coffee beans because more and more Honduran joe is  Fair Trade nowadays, which means there’s a higher potential for them to make a good living. 

The incentives to coffee growers don’t stop there, though. The  IHCAFE (a collaboration between the Government of the Republic and the Honduran Coffee Institute) has promoted Honduran coffee farmers’ economic profitability by offering them technical assistance and training, establishing novel pest-management systems, providing low-interest loans to coffee producers for equipment purchases, and providing comprehensive training for coffee cuppers through a national cupping school.

Where is it grown?

Honduran coffee is primarily grown in the west of Honduras, where the country borders Guatemala and El Salvador. Similar to  Ghana, Honduras has six well-defined coffee-growing regions. The beloved coffee crops from each area are grown at varying elevations, have different harvest seasons, and boast distinct flavor profiles. 

If you’re among the coffee connoisseurs who like to know as much as possible about where their beans come from, you’ll appreciate this quick rundown of the country’s growing regions. And if you’re not, well, at the very least, you’ll have some interesting information to spout when you want to impress other coffee buffs. 

  • Agalta: This region ranges from 1,100 to 1,400 meters in altitude and harvests fresh coffee from December to March. Agalta-grown joe is sweet with a chocolate aroma. 
  • Comayagua: A Comayagua coffee plant grows at 1,000 to 1,500 meters, and its fruit will be lightly acidic with a hint of citrus. Coffee harvesting occurs here between December and March.
  • Marcala-Montecillos: Fruity and sweet coffee from Marcala-Montecillos grows at 1,200 to 1,600 meters and is harvested from December to April.
  • Opalaca: Opalaca coffee trees grow at an altitude of 1,100 to 1,500 meters, and you’ll find Honduran farmers harvesting fruity, berry-flavored beans between November and February.
  • Copan: Copan coffee is ready for harvesting between November and March, and coffee plants here sit at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 meters. These beans boast a caramel and chocolate flavor.
  • El Paraiso: Coffee fruit from El Paraiso grows at an altitude of 950 to 1950 meters. These beans are sweet with hints of jasmine, green apple, peaches, and blueberries and are harvested in the winter, from December to March.

That’s an extensive flavor range for such an underappreciated coffee. Does anyone else suddenly want to take a trip to Honduras just for a cup of coffee? We sure do.

What Kinds of Beans Are Grown? 

Several varieties of premium coffee are grown in Honduras, including Caturra, Catuai, Pacas, Bourbon, and Typica. You probably recognize one or two of these names — they’re common arabica varieties. 

Honduran Coffee Bean Grading System

Beans sourced from Honduran coffee plantations are graded according to the elevation at which they’re grown. The grading system is split into three different categories.

The first category, Strictly High Grown, indicates the coffee was grown at over 4,400 feet above sea level, while the second-ranking category, High Grown, describes beans that grew between 3,900 and 4,400 feet above sea level. The lowest altitude beans from Honduras fall into the Central Standard category, and you’ll find them below 3,900 feet. 

How Is Honduran Coffee Processed?

The wet-processing method, which requires very specific equipment and a lot of water, is most commonly used to process Honduran coffee beans. 

Once the farmers have picked the coffee cherries, they immerse them in water. The good cherries will sink to the bottom of the vat, while the bad or unripe ones rise to the top. Then, the cherries’ skin is removed, usually by pressing the fruit against a screen. 

This process is very efficient when dealing with large batches of coffee and is the most common sorting method used in Honduras.

Unfortunately, though, there are adverse side effects that come along with wet-processing. The sugar from the coffee cherries often ends up in the water and begins fermenting, becoming acetic acid. Then, that acid occasionally finds its way back into the local waterways, where it’s then consumed.

According to the  Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the amount of pollution in the wastewater due to wet-processing coffee cherries can be 30 to 40 times greater than that found in urban sewage.

Fortunately, measures are being taken to reuse this wastewater and the coffee cherries that producers would otherwise throw away. After all, a greener coffee world is a better coffee world!

Quick Summary: Honduran Coffees

rc2-table__imageALMA COFFEE BELEN GUALCHO
  • Pleasantly Tart Grapefruit And Green Apple Acidity
  • Bright Roast
  • Balanced And Fruity
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rc2-table__imageHUCKLEBERRY ROASTERS HONDURAS NELSON RAMIREZ
  • Big Chocolaty Finish With Hints Of Sweet Plum
  • Medium Roast
  • Sweet And Tart
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Cafe Welchez Copan Gourmet Ground Coffee , 12 Oz. - 100% Coffee from HondurasCAFÉ WELCHEZ GOURMET HONDURAN COFFEE SANTA ISABEL BLEND
  • 100% Coffee From Honduras
  • 100% Arabica
  • Premium High Grown Coffee
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Clean Coffee Co Honduran El Jaguar, Dark Roast Ground Coffee, 12 Ounce Bag, Single-Origin, Toxin-Free, Rich In Antioxidants, Low Acid, Smooth TasteHONDURAN EL JAGUAR COFFEE
  • Rich In Antioxidants
  • Smooth Taste
  • Low Acid
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Fresh Roasted Coffee, Organic Honduran Marcala, Medium Roast, Fair Trade Kosher, Whole Bean, 5 PoundHONDURAN MARCALA COFFEE
  • USDA Organic
  • Environmentally Friendly Coffee Roaster
  • Bold Body, Medium Roast
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2LB Subtle Earth Organic Coffee - Medium-Dark Roast - Whole Bean - Organic Arabica Coffee - (2 lb) BagDON PABLO SUBTLE EARTH ORGANIC COFFEE
  • Organic Arabica Coffee
  • Medium-Dark Roast
  • Rich And Chocolatey
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Roasty Rankings: Our Picks for Best Honduran Coffee

Finally, the good part! 

We always try to find where the best-tasting coffees come from and what flavors their country of origin offers. Like we mentioned earlier, Honduran coffee flavor varies depending on the region from which it came, but generally, it’s packed with chocolate tasting notes and has a rich, intense aroma. And as a bonus, it’s usually low-acid, too!

At the time of writing, Honduran coffee isn’t as popular as, say, Colombian coffee. But java production in Honduras is growing fast, and we’re sure it won’t be long before we see Honduran coffee bags on pretty much every shelf. 

Until then, though, the best Honduran coffee is worth searching for. And luckily for you, we’ve already done the searching, so you don’t have to! We hope our suggestions give you an idea of just how good Honduran coffee is.

Alma Coffee Belen Gualcho

Alma Coffee Belen Gualcho
Alma Coffee Belen Gualcho
Our rating:

A pleasantly tart grapefruit and green apple acidity balances this cup’s milk chocolaty sweetness.

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One of our favorite Honduran coffees is a product of Georgia-based company Alma Coffee. Once you taste the light roast and take in all its notes of malt chocolate, green apple, and graham cracker, you’ll understand why we can’t stop talking about it.

Alma Coffee’s Belen Gualcho joe was grown in a village of the same name in the Ocotepeque department of Honduras by a group of seven farmers. When you buy a bag of these beans, you can rest assured knowing every bit of the coffee in your cup was produced with sustainable practices.

Huckleberry Roasters Honduras Nelson Ramirez

Huck Coffee Nelson Ramirez
Huckleberry Roasters Honduras Nelson Ramirez
Our rating:

This Trade-exclusive cup’s deeply resinous tropical sweetness reminds us of ripe pomegranate up front, cooling to a big chocolaty finish with hints of sweet plum.

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If your idea of a perfect morning cup is one that’s filled with bright lime and hazelnut tasting notes, then a bag of Honduras Nelson Ramirez coffee from Huckleberry Roasters might be right up your alley.

These beans were grown in the Santa Barbara sub-region, and they produce a brew that’s ideal for a wide variety of coffee drinkers. If you prefer to drink the stuff black, you’ll get a kick out of the sweet honey, red apple, chocolate, and prune tasting notes. But if you’re the kind of coffee fan who needs to add a splash of milk or creamer before you can even think about taking a sip, you’ll be happy to know the java’s flavors pair well with your favorite add-in, too.

Café Welchez Gourmet Honduran Coffee Santa Isabel Blend

This bag of Honduran beans hails from the Santa Isabel coffee farm, and Café Welchez combines both the sweet and more acidic beans to create a more balanced brew. Seasoned coffee lovers will notice this joe’s robust flavor profile and appreciate its aroma marked by notes of chocolate. 

Café Welchez is a well-known fixture of the Honduran coffee industry because the coffee plants from which the company sources its beans grow on land with the right acidity for java cultivation at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,300 meters above sea level. Plus, all of the brand’s beans are Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Clean Coffee Co. Honduran El Jaguar Coffee

Clean Coffee Co.’s Honduran El Jaguar joe comes in handy for the more health-conscious coffee drinker. This low acid coffee makes for smooth sipping and digesting and is free of agrichemicals and over 150 different toxins. Plus, it’s packed with chlorogenic acid, known for reducing heart disease, various types of cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. 

The Honduran coffee beans are hand-picked, hand-washed, and sun-dried before they’re packaged and delivered to your door. Once the dark roast joe makes it to you, pull out your French press to brew a cup; this way, you’ll be able to experience its rich flavor to the fullest extent. 

Fresh Roasted Coffee Organic Honduran Marcala Coffee

If you’re looking for a bold-bodied medium roast brew, look no further than Fresh Roasted Coffee’s organic Honduran coffee. This Fair Trade coffee is littered with milk chocolate, walnut, and lemon cupping notes, giving it a smooth, sweet taste and citrusy finish. 

These beans hail from the rich soils of La Paz, Marcala, Honduras, where they’re grown at 1,300 to 1,500 meters above sea level before being roasted in a smokeless environment (this cuts down on carbon emissions) and immediately packaged for your brewing pleasure. Plus, they’re deemed USDA-organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified. 

Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Coffee

You can buy Don Pablo’s Subtle Earth organic Honduran coffee as a medium-dark or dark roast, which helps bring out all the vanilla and chocolate undertones. The small batch-roasted specialty coffee is prepared to order in the United States, and the whole beans give you the freedom to grind it yourself and ensure maximum freshness. 

These 100 percent arabica beans are non-GMO, certified organic by  CCOF, and sourced from the Marcala region, known for sweet, fruity flavors. It has a full-body, clean finish, low acidity, and hints of honey, cocoa, caramel, and the caramelized natural sugars give the coffee a deliciously sweet aftertaste. 

For Your Information…

How do you choose Honduran coffee? 

You should choose Honduran coffee the way you would pick any joe: based on your preferences, of course!

Use the information we’ve provided above, research respected Honduran coffee brands and roasts, and decide what you’re looking for before you make a purchase. There are plenty of things you should take into consideration while on the hunt for a new bag of beans to brew, from roast level to caffeine content, and since there is a decent selection of Honduran beans for you to choose from, there’s a great chance you’ll find something that checks all your boxes. 

Does Starbucks use Honduran coffee?

Yes, Starbucks uses Honduran coffee! Over the years, the popular coffee franchise has offered Honduran-grown beans through the Starbucks Reserve program. If buying your beans from Starbucks is appealing to you, keep an eye on the company’s Reserve coffee menu; you never know when they’ll roll out another release of Honduran joe, and you don’t want to miss out!

What is Honduran coffee known for?

Put simply, beans grown in Honduras are known for being some of the best in the world! Black coffee drinkers (and those who need to add sugar and creamer, too) have noticed that Honduran joe is rich and flavorful, and it has a sweet aroma, too! 

Beans from different coffee regions naturally have varying tasting notes, so they’ll taste a bit different depending on where they were grown. Some of these high-quality coffee beans might have strong floral notes or a fruity flavor, while others may be sweeter with chocolate and caramel notes. 

Is Honduras known for coffee? 

Though the country also exports shrimp, lobster, and olive oil, Honduras is known for two major products: coffee and bananas. Coffee has always been one of Honduras’ big-ticket exports. Still, since  2003, coffee exports have grown exponentially — so much so that Honduras is now the seventh-largest exporter of coffee globally! Altogether, roughly six million bags of Honduran coffee are exported every year!

Summing Up (And Drinking Up) 

Honduras has a long history with coffee, which isn’t surprising for a country in Central America. Its soil is incredibly fertile and rich in nutrients, so the coffee farmed there is of supreme quality.

As we’ve already mentioned, the taste and aroma of Honduran coffee are just so darned good – who doesn’t want a hint of chocolate in their cup? This single-origin has a dark and rich aroma with low acidity, and it’s ideal for those who like their morning boost as strong as possible.

The best Honduran coffee is so good because of the respect and appreciation that goes into its production. Various companies in Honduras work alongside  Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade to ensure funding for sustainable farming practices that will help the farmers of Honduras make a living.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re just going to start planning a road trip to El Paraiso to taste that incredible coffee. We’ll be right back.

Happy caffeinating!

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