You know the phrase "small is beautiful?" It's the unofficial mantra for the champions of independent businesses, and projects and technologies done on micro scales, taken from the title of a book of essays by British economist E.F. Schumacher published in 1973. There is something stirring about these three words - a tiny poem and a gentle retort to the unfortunate modern industrial idea that bigger is better. This phrase comes to mind frequently when thinking about coffee. Just like with any other kind of agriculture, there are the big guys and the little guys. They each have their place in the economy: there are massive farms cranking out mountains of coffee beans each day that make their way into the generic blends in grocery stores and chain restaurants. Without getting too preachy, we'll just say that this coffee, in addition to being problematic in terms of environmental impact and unfair payment of farmers...well, it just lacks soul. Its standout quality is not standing out: uniformity and sameness are the hallmarks of giant agribusiness.
Then there are the little guys: farmers in coffee-growing countries across the world, working diligently and smartly with whatever patch of land they've got. The specifics of their location -soil composition, altitude, precipitation levels and regional farming and processing practices - lend character, nuance and uniqueness to what they produce. But the going can be tough, and quality control can be hard to keep up when resources are limited. Two such farmers who are doing the small guy farmer thing, and doing it beyond well, are wife and husband team Marysabel Caballero and Moises Herrera.
Together, they operate a 245 hectare (about 600 acres) farm in the Marcala region of Honduras, and each day they go to work growing coffee, they are keeping a 100-year old family tradition alive. They also give back to their community by funding two schools in their town, providing electricity for a nearby health clinic, and hiring local workers. Good people, they are.
Stumptown has been working with Marysabel and Moises since 2004, when they discovered their beans in the Honduras Cup of Excellence auction, a tasting competition where international coffee buyers gather to sample and purchase the best coffees from local farmers (this happens in many other countries in addition to Honduras). Over the past decade, the coffee from El Puente has consistently improved as they've renovated and replaced equipment and experimented with soaking and fermentation techniques. This year, they improved their raised beds for drying coffee beans, and acquired more land to further expand their business.
As a result of Marysabel and Moises' continual striving towards the best possible quality, the Honduras Finca El Puente Reserva that HubBub's got on our menu right now is just beautiful. A Chemex of this coffee yields an exceptionally balanced cup, with notes of blackberries, currants, plums and red grapes. The flavor isn't as straight up fruity as you might think - it's got a certain subtlety and hints of chocolate and vanilla that keep it grounded. If you let the coffee cool just a bit before drinking, its finish is reminiscent of a nice, light California Pinot Noir.
This is the kind of single origin coffee we are proud to introduce you to: something special with an abundance of soul. Some of these indie coffee growers out there, like Marysabel and Moises, are doing amazing stuff to push themselves and their coffees further toward excellence. Come see what Honduras Finca El Puenta Reserva is all about.