With the release of our 2022 Honduran Artisan Sampler, we want to highlight the people whose hard work and dedication made it possible for this coffee to be consumed by you, dear reader. We are currently working on an environmental project with Cima Café and coffee farmers in Honduras, planting trees and repairing ecosystems (more information to come in the next weeks), and the four coffees included are a testament to the work we are doing. The thing about this project is that everyone reaps the benefits, from the farmers to the consumers. This sampler includes some of my favorite coffees we’ve ever roasted, so please savor and enjoy, and don’t forget to order one for a specialty coffee lover in your life.
As an environmentally conscious craft coffee roastery, we at Tiny Footprint Coffee are constantly searching for ways to reduce and offset our carbon footprint. Taking a holistic view is vital to making our environmental impact last, and that is why our current project with Cima Café is such an exciting entity. Creating job security for Honduran farmers, supporting their families and communities, and sustaining a strong economic relationship, our purpose in this project is to do more than just plant trees.
I gathered information from Andros Mitri from Cima Café, whose personal culture and coffee expertise make him the perfect person to work on this project. Mitri, a Honduran himself, connected Tiny Footprint with these Honduran farmers in the first place and sourced each of these coffees with us in mind, and with his knowledge of the coffee itself, the industry, and the farmers, he makes for a wonderful business partner. For the purpose of this article, Andros’ answers are italicized.
Please provide a short introduction to yourself and Cima Café.
Cima Café has its roots and DNA in Honduras and the work we do is really about helping to tell the story of our land, our people, and our culture. Our coffees carry this story and we hope that by enjoying them you can taste a bit of it as well.
This last year has been an exciting one for us, as we broke ground on a micro-mill in Western Honduras as a way to provide farmers with small but mighty infrastructure designed to prepare coffees to the highest standards, ensuring that our customers can have the purest experience of all the work done at the farm. This project also allows us to reach more farmers and provide them with opportunities to market their coffee in an ethical way that takes care of their coffees, farms, and communities.
Another super exciting development this year has been the evolution of our existing partnership with Tiny Footprint Coffee. As we continue to be good stewards of the lands and people involved in the coffees with which we work, we are partnering to bring reforestation services and programs into these coffee-producing communities. We view this new alliance as an investment in our collective global future and a way to build resilience into the highly vulnerable areas where coffee is grown. We’ll be sharing more details on this shortly. :)
Our work is driven by our values, and being from Honduras, we strive to bring a positive change through the work we do. Our commitment to our customers is to bring them high quality coffees that have a positive impact on the communities and environment where their coffee is grown. Our team counts on a great amount of technical knowledge to be able to do this, but even more importantly are driven by this same commitment to bringing a positive change through coffee.
The four coffees in the 2022 Honduras Artisan Sampler are sustainably farmed, processed, dried and roasted. They vary greatly in taste, each bag representing the many people whose hard work went into creating it. As a consumer, it’s easy to forget the long process each bean goes through before it’s roasted, packaged, and brewed, but as a reader of this article (and hopefully a buyer of our coffee), your interest makes all the difference. Here is some information about each coffee, directly from Andros:
El Cedral: Lush, soft layers of chocolate and golden dark roast tones with notes of orange and spice. Nestled in the skirts of the mountain Erapuca, [Finca] El Cedral is a recovered cattle pasture at 1,500masl. Today, it is in the process of rewilding with native species being planted amongst the coffee trees.
Orlando Arita: Full, velvety body with notes of pear and tangerine - light spice, chocolate, and strawberries in the finish. - Don Orlando’s fincas are at an elevation of around 1600masl, in the Guisayote natural reserve area of Ocotepeque. He favors Bourbon, Pacas and Catuai varietals, and is well known for his experimental lots as well as his consistency when it comes to his well-defined [flavor] profiles.
Geisha (Finca San Jose): Fresh and especially bright for a natural, with deep flavors of passionfruit, ripe berries and cocoa with brown sugar and jasmine in the finish. - Natural process perfected by our friend Arnold Paz at Finca San José.
Harvested at precise ripeness by an experienced team of 15 long-time Finca San José coffee pickers that have been working with Arnold for around 20 years. Learning to value extreme care in their work, often returning to the same plant four or five times, [they are] rewarded for their efforts. By implementing simple quality control tools, he ensures that each picking has a minimum of 95% beans at optimal ripeness.
For this particular lot of Geisha, after the picking has been evaluated for ripeness, it is soaked in water for 24 hours to clean the cherries and limit the bacteria present during drying. The coffee is then dried on a clean patio for 8 hours before arriving into raised beds inside a domed greenhouse, where the coffee then slowly dries for 30 days. After this drying process is complete and the coffee reaches a humidity of 11%, it is all stored together in a large oak crate to rest and homogenize for another 30 days before being ready for export.
This attention to detail produces a beautiful fruity coffee with elegant floral notes, berry flavors and a refreshing citric acidity. 2022 is the second year that Arnold has exported this coffee, as his young Geisha plantation just came in to full production and he has fine tuned the processing to produce a cup that lives up to the varietal’s reputation.
Los Encinos: Sweet fruit with light spice and a melt-away chocolate-like finish - From producers Luha & Issel Medina, Los Encinos is a fully-washed lot, composed of Catuai and IH90 varieties grown between 1,550-1,750 masl in the La Paz region. Luha and Issel are sisters that have worked on their family’s farm for many years, and have been growing into their role as an integral part of the coffee growing community in Santiago de Puringla. They learned much from their father growing up, which they acknowledge has helped them forge their way in an industry (and society) that has historically been male-controlled; coffee growing in Honduras is traditionally and continues to be mostly a male-controlled activity.
They now manage their own farm and are involved in several other related activities in the agricultural industry of their community. They are an example in resilience and are paving the way for other women in the Honduran coffee sector.
Each of these coffees is from a different part of the country and brings a little taste of their particular region. Also, they are each unique: Los Encinos is produced by two sisters in Puringla, Orlando Arita’s Anaerobic process is no longer an experiment but a consistent star in the lineup, the finca San Jose Gesha Natural is a beautiful combination of amazing varietals, farming and processing of a coffee, and El Cedral is a delicious chocolaty cup that you can enjoy all day.
With a community-oriented business approach like this, it’s important to make sure that every person involved is benefiting (success for one = success for all). What specific benefits to us at Tiny Footprint Coffee, the farmers, and anyone else involved have you noticed, and is there anything special about this relationship in terms of community/workers’ benefits/improving quality of work, life, and coffee?
We do work that benefits everyone we touch in the process and it shows in the product and way that we work. By delivering high quality traceable coffees, we tell the stories that bridge the gap between the people that grow these coffees and those that drink them. By making this connection more solid, we are helping our customers have a positive impact in the lives of these farmers.
Together we are able to provide better earnings that are spread out amongst the communities and the ability to invest in the quality and sustainability of their farms. Through these relationships, we have brought price stability to our group of farmers so that the price they receive for their coffee is more resistant to changes in the general market.
In turn, the farmers see a way to do the work they love in a good way, taking care of their community, their lands, and the quality of their coffee. It’s this cycle of reciprocity and circular economy that we have built amongst the farmers we work with that has driven value for all parties involved.
Even though we live in a highly technological world, and there are all kinds of innovations to facilitate more “fair” trade, I believe that one of our core competencies that allows us to do business in this circular way is our heart-centered approach. Building real relationships, where we are invested in the well-being and success of the farmers and roasters we work with, because with that kind of approach we can all make decisions to continue to support each other and the work that we are all doing to benefit our communities and our surroundings.
We are proud to be able to deliver this value to our farmer partners and to be able to guarantee to our roasters and consumers that your coffee has had a positive impact on the lives and surroundings of others. We invite you to also continue on this journey of changing the way coffee affects people around the world by enjoying delicious coffees that have been specially handcrafted in gratitude for your support.
How can relationships like these benefit the coffee industry/community in terms of farmer labor, environmentalism, and accessibility?
Our approach is about creating this circular economy, and to be able to make it happen, we have the knowledge, resources and hands on the ground where the coffee is that can help guide the process during harvest to meet customers needs and then follow up to ensure that things have been done in a way that ensures quality and sustainability. I feel that reciprocity or circular economy is really the only way forward for the coffee industry. Unfortunately, climate change is already rapidly affecting large swaths of Honduras and other coffee-producing countries. Combine that with the coffee market’s low prices, and you can easily see how the current situation will not be sustainable for much longer. What we see on the ground is increasingly more farms abandoned or converted to conventional farming or pastures due to price pressures and the increased difficulty of producing coffee in climate-affected areas.
What we see with producers and roasters that work with us is an entirely different story: forests are regenerating, investment in sustainability and quality at the farms and mills, and improvements in the lives of the many hands that touch this coffee. The reason we have seen such a stark difference is not just because we care, but because we care enough to see it through in a good way and make sure those benefits are realized for our farmers, the roasters we work with, and the end consumer enjoying a delicious coffee.
What would it take for other coffee companies (and companies of other sorts) to be able to create relationships like these in hopes for a more positive and sustainable future? And how would it benefit future generations for companies to create these relationships and do business this way?
This heart centered approach that is essentially asking for connection between us as consumers and what we are consuming is applicable across any industry. We already see it in other food and beverage [companies] with farmers’ markets and micro-breweries, where we as consumers have the opportunity to connect with the person who crafted or grew our food, we have an appreciation for the work they put into it and are willing to pay for that extra care that we are receiving. This kind of connection, care, and reciprocity is what the coffee industry is craving, with millions of farmers producing coffee drunk by millions of Americans that might not even know what country the coffee came from.
So, for anyone looking to be in this kind of relationship with the foods, products or coffees they are consuming, it doesn’t mean you need to hop on a plane and pick up your coffee right at the farm, but a practical step would be to buy coffee from people that are offering this kind of traceability and transparency to how the coffee got to you, and ideally [from suppliers] that have a personal relationship with the farmers of that coffee.
Why is it vital that our customers/coffee community are aware of what we’re doing?
The community’s support here [in the U.S.] is vital to be able to execute all the good work that gets done at the origin, and by learning more about the coffees and the work we are doing, consumers can understand what effect they’re having in the world through the coffee they’re drinking. It empowers consumers to make a more educated choice and, we hope, choose coffees that are bringing a positive effect into the world while also being spectacularly delicious. And hopefully the entire industry slowly shifts towards our ways.
Coffee culture = world culture. There are many steps and many PEOPLE who affect the coffee we all drink throughout its entire life cycle. The coffee that’s in your cup wasn’t created in a vacuum. What’s the most important big picture takeaway for you from this experience?
There are between 20-30 beans that go into each cup of coffee that you drink and those beans have been touched by over 100 hands before they make it to your cup. The fact is that coffee is so much more than just a beverage; it is a life for so many people across the world, and an opportunity to bring them prosperity or poverty, to protect forests and native habitats or destroy them and degrade soils. The difference between the possible effects coffee has on the world is based on a choice made by every consumer, whether to buy high quality, ethically sourced coffee or to choose the cheapest option out there.
The fact is the difference between these two coffees goes so far beyond just their taste, but the real effect they have on the communities and environment where they are grown.
Although it can be easy to forget about the source of what we’re consuming, it is our hope at Tiny Footprint that we increase our customers’ awareness of the process of producing coffee. From harvesting to roasting, it’s the humans putting in work that make it possible for you to enjoy and feel good about what you’re consuming, and the positive karma accumulated by responsibly consuming will help create a more sustainable future.
Our connection with Cima Café and Andros Mitri is already making a difference in Honduras, and it’s vital for us to continue and grow this work to make a difference in the often environmentally harmful coffee industry. If we work to improve the lives of each person whose labor makes your cup of coffee, the industry will become more sustainable and we can create a more positive reality for a lot of people.
You Drink Coffee, We (do more than just) Plant Trees.
Andros Mitri (middle) pictured with San Juanito (left) and Don Orlando (right) at Orlando's farm in the Guisayote natural reserve area of Ocotepeque, Honduras.