Behind the Beans: Finca EL Pino from Honduras

Located in the heart of Honduras in the La Paz Municipality – Finca El Pino is situated in the town of Santiago Puringla. Named for the pine trees towering tall over the land – El Pino was passed on to José Ovidio Vijil’s by his mother, after she had initially inherited the plot from her parents. Thanks to her support, Jose and his family have been planting coffee at El Pino since 2016.
Coffee is an important commodity in Honduras and for many, helped prevent bankruptcy during the financial crisis in 2009. In 1970, the country created the Instituto Hondureño del Cafe (IHCAFE), to help improve and maintain the infrastructure behind coffee production and exportation. This included the initiation of research centers to discover more resistant varieties and develop hybrids whilst testing new agricultural technologies. IHCAFE also provided support for producers to gain access to more premium markets by improving quality and yields. A significant portion (70%) of producers in Honduras are considered smallholders, growing coffee on land less than 2 hectares. The past few decades have seen increased support towards these smallholders, with resources provided by IHCAFE to improve agricultural methods and connect producers with international markets.
Finca El Pino is truly a family farm with eight family members working together to cultivate, harvest and process the coffee grown amongst the trees. This is important, especially since work is difficult to come by in the region. Internal prices for farm maintenance, according to José, are high, and he is grateful to have the support from his family. Although the farm might be small, Jose notes that the small size makes it easier for the family to harvest and prune the coffee.

For processing at El Pino, as soon as the coffee is harvested, it is transported to the washing station to be pulped. Once the external pulp is removed from the coffee, the mucilage covered beans are submerged in cool clean water to initiate the fermentation process. This allows the remaining mucilage sugars to break down over the following 36 hours. Once fermentation is complete, the coffee is delivered to dry under the sun in solar dryers for 20 to 25 days.
Upon attaining the ideal moisture content, the coffee is sent to the mill roughly 30 minutes away to be hulled and rested prior to export.
Jose notes that future plans for El Pino include expanding the size of the farm to build a Solar Dryer. This way, Jose will no longer have to rent space, giving him greater control over his coffee; improving quality.
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