Our Trek Through Central American Coffee Country

in Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee History, Coffees of the World, Fair Trade and the Environment

IMG_2730     I’ve spent the last ten days in Central America, touring Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala.  The primary reason for the trip was the bonding experience with my father, who has done this trip before, and acted as our guide.  The other reason was to venture deep into coffee country.

As a coffee lover, it was appealing to me to go to its source, see it as it grows, talk to the people that make it possible for the rest of us, and educate myself on everything that happens before a professional roaster makes it available to me.  Prior to this trip, I had made three separate trips to the Hawaiian islands, in part to visit coffee farms there.  The difference is that when you’re in Mau’i or Kona on the Big Island, you’re still in the United States talking to Americans making American wages.  In Central America, there’s none of that luxury.

IMG_2758     At coffee’s origin are arguably its hardest-working and poorest people. 

In the weeks to come, I have so much information to share with you coffee lovers about what I saw and learned.  I’ll give you a synopsis now, and a summary of what updates are to come.

My father met me in Belize City and we took a puddle-jumper plane to spend the night in the Belizean town of Placencia.  Belize produces coffee but lacks the altitude to be counted among the world’s finest.  Still, we were treated to fresh coffee while we were there.

From there, we made our way to Honduras where we had hoped to visit a coffee farm, but due to the logistics of traveling these countries off the beaten path, had to leave before we could.  We arrived there late from alternate arrangements we had made to get there.  Our host was unable to make us the farm tour accommodations he had hoped to make.  Not to mention the following day was election day, and we thought better of sticking around to see how it turned out.

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Finally, we visited Guatemala.  For me, it is the coffee lover’s mecca.  Guatemalan coffee is my favorite coffee in the world!  We visited a coffee farm in San Juan, just off of the incredibly beautiful Lake Atitlan.  We toured the city of Antigua, just outside Guatemala’s largest area of coffee production.  Antigua is the unofficial coffee capital of Central America, if not the world, with its many cafes on every block.  Finally, we enjoyed farm-fresh coffee at every stop from Puerto Barrios to Flores.

Stay tuned!  The process by which coffee ends up in our kitchens is a long and arduous one, full of hard-working people who take incredible pride in what they give us, despite their poverty.  It was a very eye-opening experience for me, that I look forward to sharing with you in the weeks to come.

IMG_2818     I’ll take you on the Guatemalan coffee tour that my father and I were on, and do my best to translate the details from Spanish! 🙂  I’ll walk you through the cobblestone streets of Antigua, with its rich history and cafes on every block.  We’ll sit down with the owner of Kaffee Fernando’s, Antigua’s leading coffee roaster and chocolatier.  And we’ll have lots of fun too (the kind that’s fun after the fact), while I share my experiences on how to cross Central American borders on foot, riding the chicken bus to get around, and one night in the ‘murder capital of Honduras’.

6 Comments

  1. Sounds like fun. Looking forward to future articles.

    Comment by Hays — December 3, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

  2. Thanks Hays! Stay tuned, I don’t know I’m going to be able to write briefly about this trip. Lots of adventure and memories.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — December 4, 2013 @ 12:27 am

  3. Great intro Marco! Your enthusiasm jumps off the iPad mini! I need to drink more Guatemalan coffee, clearly.

    Comment by Jacques — December 4, 2013 @ 12:50 am

  4. Great post Marc. Visiting the farms makes you really see the efforts that are put forth every day to bring that hot cup of coffee to our cups. We at Rogers are constantly visiting our farms and partner farms, contributing money and knowledge to help elevate the standard of living.

    Comment by Chris — December 4, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  5. That’s great to hear, Chris. I found it to be a very eye-opening experience.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — December 5, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  6. It’s good stuff, Jacques. I’ve always really enjoyed it.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — December 5, 2013 @ 11:59 am

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