Hector Ventura Honey Process. HondurasContrabean Roasting Company
Hector Ventura has a 2.5-acre farm called El Naranjo in the community of Tapuiman. He lives in the nearby community of Sisiguara with his wife and 3 children. In prior years, Hector has sold his family’s coffee in cherry to the local middleman. For the last three years he has been working with Catracha Coffee. During this time, he has improved his farm management practices using lime to control the pH of his soil, fertilizing with organic compost, and spraying organic fungicides to control levels of leaf rust. These actions have improved the health of his farm and the quality of his coffee production. Hector has also learned to process his coffee using his own micro-mill so that he can depulp, ferment and dry his coffee before delivering it to Catracha Coffee.
This year Hector added new drying tables at his micro-mill so that he could dry more coffee. This is the first year that Hector has been able to process enough coffee for a single-producer micro-lot. Hector plans to use the extra income from the sale of his coffee to pay for more farm improvements.
Last year was the first year a producer from Catracha exported a honey process — Rigoberto Rodriguez — but before Rigo, came several years of trials with buckets, all under the Catracha Quality Project, which is funded through the non-profit Catracha Community.
Honey Process producers this year picked 1000 pounds of cherry, hand sorted the harvest on raised beds in the afternoon, and left overnight on the raised beds. The next morning they floated the cherry in a 200 liter plastic drum and then depulped. The depulped coffee went back into the same drum and was sealed and fermented for 20 hours in a protected cool area out of the sun. The process was repeated over several days to make about 4 exportable bags per farmer.
The day after fermenting, the parchment was sent straight to drying on a patio without washing. With 20 hours of fermenting and a full day of sun-drying, the mucilage that remains is very light. Then the coffee was placed on raised beds for the remaining days of drying. The lighter honey is not as sticky and there is less risk of odd flavors from uneven drying.
Mayra Orellana-Powell founded Catracha Coffee Company to connect her coffee growing community with roasters. Ten years later, Catracha Coffee has gained momentum with more than 80 producers and 20 roasters working together on sustainable relationships and a profit sharing model, which has consistently paid at least $2.00 per pound directly to producers. This extra income helps increase each producer’s capacity to reinvest in their farm, and overtime, increase their standard of living.
The sale of Catracha Coffee also creates income for a non-profit called Catracha Community (a 501(1)(c)(3) nonprofit), which invests in income diversification opportunities without taking resources from a farmer’s bottomline. Catracha Community hosts weekly workshops for women and youth to learn craft making skills. Like the coffee, the focus is on quality. With the help of talented volunteers, the group has been able to make many beautiful things and sell them through our network of coffee friends. They even have a name for the group, Catracha Colectivo.
Catracha Community has also established an art residence and studio in Santa Elena to host artists from Honduras and around the world. These artists have been running art classes two days a week for over a year. Every week more than 30 children come and learn art. Art is starting to pop up everywhere around Santa Elena. There are more than 30 murals along the streets of Santa Elena, in peoples homes, and at many schools. During the COVID 19 pandemic, group activities have been suspended but women continue to make crafts and also masks to earn extra income. Artists have been visiting homes to paint small works of art on windows and doors. They have also been painting stools and selling them for extra income. Many families are also starting family gardens and trading seed to diversify their harvest.