Quality Calibration in Coffee as a Meeting Point Between Honduras Origin and the German Market

Sustainable agriculture, Trade
The two-time coffee cupping champion and first German Q-Arabica Grader since 2009, Katharina Gerasch, trained 60 coffee cuppers from organizations part of the Inclusive Coffee Project (Proyecto Café Inclusivo), which is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDE) and implemented by Swisscontact. According to the expert, the main impact of this workshop conducted in Honduras is, “Improving marketing and commercialization by understanding which attributes buyers seek and allowing producers to understand the level of their own coffee,” explained Katharina.

In Honduras, the largest exporting volume takes place with conventional coffee, whose evaluation is complex, according to Ramón Reyes, Technical Coordinator at IHCAFE’s Laboratory for Quality Control, “Currently, each company uses the evaluation format that is most convenient for them, which leads to quality inconsistency; this workshop helped us speak the same language and evaluate quality under one standard.” Given that Germany is the main market for exports, the Inclusive Coffee Project facilitated this workshop with the German expert, recognized and respected in the coffee industry at an international scale.

The workshop consisted of four days, throughout which organizations from various regions took part, including cooperatives, producing companies, exporting companies, IHCAFE technicians and their School of Cuppers, as well as some specialty coffee shops. 

In this workshop, participants learned about calibrating – the process of adjusting the coffee bean grinder. For Liliana Sánchez, Swisscontact Country Director and Head of the Inclusive Coffee Project, this calibration workshop was important, as she stated, “Between the comprehensive cupping exercises and the discovery of new approaches to coffee quality, this space allowed for cultural exchanges and approaches to business, which will be valuable for our partners IHCAFE and AMUCAFE, and for the Honduran companies trying to enter new markets.” On the other hand, Angie Rubí, from Finca Ruland, saw this as an opportunity to improve, stating, “By calibrating ourselves, we identified attributes that the market is looking for; however, we must improve the Honduran profile, given that 65% of the coffee is still commercialized in wet parchment, representing a risk for quality. We have to change this culture.”

The foundation of a good blend

In Katharina’s own words, Honduras produces good quality even in conventional coffees, as she said, “Brazil’s basic coffee is light, whereas with Honduran coffee, it is the base, for instance, which gives espressos sweetness. Its profile is broad, showing a juicy sweetness, a touch of forest fruits, with good balance, citric acidity, and refreshing. It is very important that producers and exporters understand the role and value of Honduran coffees.”

For Carlos Pineda, director of the prestigious School of Cuppers at IHCAFE, it was satisfying to see many of his alumni join the workshop, making him proud, but he also highlighted the potential of the event, as he stated, “There is a market for all kinds of coffee; we must value Honduran coffee in a real dimension, clearly define its profiles, and orient them towards the matching markets.” Specialty coffee exporters also saw opportunities, as Kathya Irías, from Spirit Animal Coffee, observed, “We unlearned many things; as owners of a brand we need to care for it by fine-tuning our sensorial analysis. We are also starting to understand the European market and we will start exploring it soon.”

Café Inclusivo is part of Swisscontact’s Development Programme and is in part cofinanced by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).  

Inclusive Coffee: Promoting sustainable markets
The project seeks to reduce the existing inequalities in the sustainable coffee value chain in order to create more resilient livelihoods for smallholder sustainable coffee farmers.