Price $4.40 per pound
Bag Weight 153.73 lbs
Flavor Profile Strawberry, lime, honey, ginger, floral, chocolate, sweet
280 farmers organized around CAFESMO cooperative
1000 – 1900 masl
Parainema, pacas, catuaí, icatú
Mercedes, Ocotepeque department, Honduras
Anaerobically fermented natural
October - March
Fair Trade (FT FLO/USA) | Organic
Naturals from Central America are less rare now than in years past, but they are still very rare. CAFESMO, a young coop in Honduras' northwest, is managing large volumes of coffee processed using the kind of techniques typically reserved for competition microlots, to great effect. This lot is an anaerobically fermented natural, part of the first-ever full container CAFESMO has exported to the United States. The additional fermentation creates a juicy, punchy cup with a pastry-like sweetness and flavors of strawberry and prune.
Finding a Market for Naturals in Honduras
Honduras is Central America's largest coffee producer by volume. Despite a wide variety of elevations, varieties and microclimates (not to mention some exemplary smallholder organizations) processing styles country-wide rarely deviate from a standard fully washed profile. High quality naturals are usually tiny, experimental lots produced for waiting buyers or auction platforms, with very competitive prices.
CAFESMO, in Honduras' northwest department of Ocotepeque, is a total exception here. Originally unified as a cooperative in only 2016, CAFESMO has been practicing large-scale natural production for most of the organization's existence and selling primarily to European roasters. More recently, CAFESMO began experimenting with increased fermentation times using anaerobic methods as a way of boosting the clarity and acidity of their naturals, creating a whole new product line. After long selection process Royal settled on 2 anaerobic lots that we think represent the best of the outturns this harvest, and a profile we expect to grow in the coming years.
“Diversity and Quality”
CAFESMO's slogan is "diversity and quality", which, according to their founder, Hidardo Hernández, should apply to a coop's people and daily life as much as it should apply to its product. CAFESMO's 280 farmer associates grew up, like Hidardo, in Ocotepeque, and have a vested interest in the continuation of coffee farming as a sustainable family business in every way possible. Farms among associates range from below 1000 meters to above 1900 meters in altitude and from 2-12 hectares in size, and often grow different blends of plantains, mangos, citrus, avocado, corn, beans, chiles, carrots, and more. The result of such diverse membership is a long, gradual harvest season, months longer than the average cooperative.
To CAFESMO, certifications are a mandatory minimum for business conduct: being a Fair Trade member guarantees accountability for labor conditions and governance, and organic certification helps them guide their growers with healthier standards for the land. In addition, CAFESMO actively helps convert growers’ land to agroforestry each year, and recently became the first Honduran member of the ACORN carbon rights program—which allows them to sell their sequestered carbon as an offset credit to other companies worldwide.
Although a Honduran organization, CAFESMO's management is diverse and includes collaboration and advisement from people from Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. Their offerings are diverse as well, including women's lots, single farms and single elevations, as well as a wide variety of processing styles and cup scores.
Processing at CAFESMO
CAFESMO exported their first container of microlots in 2019 and has been improving their processing ever since. This lot is an anaerobically fermented natural, consisting of a careful whole cherry fermentation prior to sundrying the fruit as a full natural: fresh coffee cherry is hand-sorted and cleaned, and then sealed inside a stainless steel tank with a valve for the release of oxygen for about one day to ferment in an increasingly oxygen-deprived environment. Once fermentation is complete, the cherry is removed and placed on raised beds to fully dry.
“Anaerobic” in this case refers to the fermentation environment where oxygen is limited or entirely deprived. In a normal coffee fermentation, the oxygen itself drives the process, converting sugars to alcohol and lowering the pH of the mixture; when oxygen is limited, the fermentation process is slowed, giving the coffee's sugars a longer period of contact with the seed, transforming the flavors somewhat. In the case of CAFESMO's anaerobics, we can certainly attest to an increased juiciness and flavor clarity compared to their standard, more chocolatey, naturals.