Archers, Micro & Home Roasters’ Go-To for Greens
Our desire to spread the joy of specialty coffee encompasses every specialty coffee lover across the different roles in our industry.
With the steady emergence of more start-up roasting operations and a growing cohort of dedicated home roasting enthusiasts within our larger, diverse, and dynamic specialty coffee community, we’ve been feeling an undeniably reinvigorating sense of purpose as a green coffee trader and as a coffee academy accredited as a CQI Professional Q Venue and an SCA Premier Training Campus.
As a Green Coffee Trader, we get to spread the joy of specialty coffee to smaller-volume roasters by helping them access a wide range of high-quality, higher-end specialty raw materials (specialty coffee with minimum scores of 85-86 points) that are easy for them to work with while having good potential for expressing sweet, nuanced, and balanced cup profiles.
These are green coffee beans they may have difficulty directly sourcing and, critically, storing in optimal conditions, because the producers capable of providing them typically deal only in large volumes, likely in full container loads.
As a Specialty Coffee Academy, we’re thrilled that we get to provide holistic learning solutions to roasters at all levels, from the essential SCA Roasting program alongside the CQI’s programs on pertinent topics, Post-Harvest Processing and Quality Evaluation.
Ensuring a Reliable Inventory of Good Quality Raw Materials
Our continuing, direct relationships with producing partners like Hidardo Hernandez of Cafesmo from Honduras are particularly relevant in this respect too. That’s because they reliably provide us with a good range of high-quality raw materials.
They also embrace our feedback on how we can better accommodate our customers’ preferences and are dedicated to finding ways to implement them.
Specifically in Cafesmo’s case, their greater focus has been on exploring the flavor possibilities of the Parainema variety through purposeful innovations in post-harvest processing, in close collaboration with the farmers and producers in their network. For farmers and producers, this hybrid variety’s appeal lies in the rare combination of hardiness, productivity, and good cup quality potential.
But for roasters, the main draw alongside flavor potential is the physicality of the beans, which makes it easier to get to the sweet spot and consequently makes it easier for the barista or the home brewer to calibrate, giving way to more predictability in brewing and more easily enjoyable cups.
Swinging by Sharjah, Straight from WOC in Greece
Our Producer’s Talk on 25th June 2023 featuring Cafesmo kicked off what has turned out to be an increasingly exciting, social, and learning-filled summer here at Archers.
In conversation with our co-founder and green coffee buyer, Frederick Bejo, Cafesmo’s founder and 4th generation coffee producer at Finca Cascaritas, Hidardo, shared how their family got started in coffee and how he is continuing their legacy as his personal vocation.
Having traveled to the UAE (and straight to our roastery in Sharjah!) from the World of Coffee Athens, Hidardo was accompanied by members of his team — Sebastian Wiersma who heads Cafesmo International and Carlos Guerra, repeat Honduran National Barista Champion and World Barista Championship competitor.
It had been the largest Producer’s Talk crowd we’d hosted until then. Considering Honduras is one of the more unassuming and less attention-grabbing specialty coffee-origin countries here in our home market — we took our friends’ attendance to be a sound indicator of sincere interest and deepening engagement in specialty coffee as a subject and in our industry.
Specialty Coffee as a Personal Vocation
Hidardo began his talk by relating that his great-grandfather had been among the pioneering party that first brought in coffee and fundamental coffee cultivation knowledge to Honduras from El Salvador. That was when and how their family began their coffee farming projects some four generations back.
When Hidardo recognized the yet untapped potential of Ocotepeque and, its neighboring department, Copan’s microclimates to produce high-quality and differentiated specialty coffees, he made it his personal vocation to contribute to making Honduran coffee known globally as more than just a source of commodity, supermarket coffees but a distinctive single-origin, specialty coffee producing country. That was the impetus for starting Cafesmo.
Hidardo proceeded to give us an in-depth view of the many moving parts at the farm level — from cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest processing — that need to be aligned and optimized to create an extensive range of good quality specialty coffee raw materials, which they then match with consuming markets where the coffees will be most appreciated and appropriately valued.
About cultivation, he emphasized the importance of healthy soils as a starting point and touched on the rarely discussed yet crucial subject of achieving the most favorable match between terroir and variety for the coffee trees to produce cherries with good flavor potential. He cited Parainema as a prime example and several other varieties they have been growing on their farms — such as Pacas, Pacamara, and the latest addition, Aranas from Brazil.
No Paradox in the Parainema
Picking up on the curiosity all around about the Parainema variety, a cultivar developed by the Honduran National Coffee Institute (IHCAFE), Fred prompted Hidardo to tell us more. We then learned that the Parainema’s hardiness is due to its deeper and sturdier root system compared to more traditional varieties like Typica and Bourbon.
Because of its root system, it is able to thrive in spite of threats from nematodes while extracting as much nutrients as possible from the soil, allowing it to regularly bear healthy coffee cherries in viable volumes. Hidardo expounded that Parainema is also more adaptable to different types of soil and has resistance to coffee leaf rust.
While this sort of resilience is generally the norm for hybrid varieties, it has also always been associated with the coffee having unsatisfactory or low cup quality. Hidardo explained that this perception had been largely based on experiences with Timor hybrid varieties, whose roots do go deeper and obtain more minerals from the soil, but often do not translate to desirable qualities in the cup.
A Parainema lot winning in the 2017 Honduras Cup of Excellence affirmed its potential for good cup quality — when grown with care in beneficial microclimates, meticulously hand-picked during harvest, and then processed innovatively with purpose and precision, post-harvest.
This win encouraged more coffee producers, like Hidardo, to unlock more of the Parainema’s flavor possibilities, and their pursuits have been reflected in the expanding range of specialty coffee flavor profiles specialty coffee lovers everywhere are able to enjoy.
In our own coffee collection, you’ll find pleasant and familiar espresso notes in the natural-processed lots in our Specialty Selection, Finca El Tontolo and Limoncello Lot 38 from Cafesmo member farms. You’ll also have satisfyingly surprising fruity qualities in the natural anaerobic Finca Las Cascaritas Lot 90, from Hidardo’s own farm.
Sustaining Cafesmo’s Gains, A Team Endeavor
As a coffee entrepreneur, Hidardo realized that sustaining Cafesmo, in the long run, would require more than his agricultural and agronomic know-how.
At the minimum, it would also require their partner specialty coffee farmers and producers to continuously upskill in key topics, such as biodiversity and agroforestry to improve cultivation practices, and inoculated coffees to update their knowledge on post-harvest processing. For this, they bring in subject matter experts, for instance, Lucia Solis on the subject of fermentation.
Then, as their coffees’ quality and value improve, it would be imperative to augment their capacity for creating and nurturing connections throughout consuming markets worldwide. For this, they onboarded Sebastian, a seasoned international development and relations strategist, to head Cafesmo International, and regularly collaborate with Carlos — multiple National Barista Championship title holder and frequent World Barista Championship contender— to advocate for brewing Honduran specialty coffees.
It was then Sebastian who discussed how they have been building relationships with roasters across the Americas, Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East to extend and deepen Cafesmo’s reach. Meanwhile, Carlos fleshed out the versatility of their specialty coffees to be enjoyed by coffee drinkers with varying preferences in brewing methods, as well as tastes and flavors.
Cafesmo’s Mission: Accomplished in our Cups
The cupping session evinced Cafesmo’s accomplishment in diversifying flavor profiles of Honduran coffees, specifically from the Ocotopeque and Copan regions, through proper cultivation and harvesting practices, and subsequently, purposeful post-harvest processing techniques.
The cupping table featured ten lots comprising traditional and experimental naturals, as well as honey-processed lots of both cultivars like Parainema, Obata, Catuai, and Colombia alongside more traditional varieties like Pacamara and Pacas.
Hidardo reiterated that their work with several varieties, periodically introducing new ones, and conducting experimental processing projects is in pursuit of their aim to continuously diversify the range of their coffees.
Like the rest of our long-time producing partners, they do so in service of our increasingly international and multi-cultural global community of specialty coffee lovers, and for the common benefit of every player along the specialty coffee value chain responsible for creating and preserving quality.
The evening wrapped up with all of us having greater knowledge and appreciation of Honduran specialty coffees, as well as greater admiration for the work Hidardo and his team put into realizing the flavor potential of Ocotepeque and Copan coffees and making sure these are known in as many corners of our coffee-drinking world.