Honduran coffees get a bit of a bad rap. Outside of coffee circles, they aren’t terribly well known (or perceived), particularly relative to coffees from Guatemala, with which Honduras shares a coffee-producing border. This is unfortunate, as Honduran coffees can be absolutely stunning. This year’s Cup of Excellence (COE) winner in Honduras scored a 91.81 and fetched $124.50/lb; the winner of Guatemala’s 2017 COE scored 90.36 and sold for $58/lb. I mention this with no slight intended toward Guatemala – which produces some amazing coffees – but only as a mode of illustrating that Honduran coffees can compete.
Back in February, I was lucky enough to participate in a week-long trip to Honduras sponsored by Volcafe/Genuine Origin. I learned a ton on the trip, but what is relevant for this post is that I was exposed to not only some great, perception-changing coffees, but also a wide range of taste profiles. I had no idea that some Honduran coffees possess intense malic acidity, while others are of the comfort-cup or earthy-herbal ilk. Part of this is clearly a function of terroir and processing differences intra-country. But I suspect a large reason for the massive differences in taste that I experienced relate to coffee variety (think Pink Lady vs. Macintosh vs. Granny Smith).
We are currently offering two extremely different Honduran coffees. Los Yoyos is a legendary coffee that won the 2015 Honduran COE. It is 100% Parainema, a hybrid developed between Costa Rica and Honduras as a cross between Villa Sarchi (a highly productive Costa Rican Bourbon variety, similar to Caturra) and a Timor Hybrid (ie, with some Robusta lineage). The name gives it away, (para = against, nema = nematodes) – it is resistant to both leaf rust, and predators. Despite its inauspicious origins and name, it is delicious, with a truly wild taste profile (think passion fruit and lemon curd). Los Yoyos of course isn’t a run-of-the mill Parainema, it has been exceptionally processed and sorted (it is perhaps the most beautifully processed coffee I’ve ever roasted). The other Honduran, also from the same region of Santa Barbara, is El Tanque, produced by the famous Moreno family. This is a much more familiar cup, delicious with caramel, dark chocolate, tangerine and peach. It is Catuai, a Brazilian Caturra hybrid. Same region, similar terroir and processing, different variety, dramatically different taste profile.