BEHIND THE BEAN

HOW COFFEE IS CHANGING THE LIVES OF ORPHANED CHILDREN

It’s no question if Marvin likes coffee.

“Of course!” He says with a laugh. “We Hondurans, and not just Hondurans, but people around the world, think coffee is an aromatic drink with a great flavor, and I have even read that it helps our bodies in many ways. So, yeah, we drink it normally with breakfast.”

Marvin knows a lot more about coffee than just its taste. He’s an agricultural engineer at our coffee farm in Siguatepeque, Honduras, where the Trailblazer coffee beans grow, dry, and prepare for roasting and consumption. He stands in the midst of the coffee plants, small green trees standing a couple feet tall under the bright afternoon sun.

“Approximately 7000 plants grow in the three-acre lot, and production is set to increase from 1600 pounds last year to more than 3000 this year!”

Coffee cherries ripening on the plant.

The beans growing around them are rather large, though the plants are shorter than other varieties. They’re called Lempira, a variety native to the Lempira region of Honduras, which the Honduran Coffee Institute created. Marvin says the Lempira is a noble bean, resistant to different illnesses plaguing coffee plants. “Of course,” he says, “this depends on proper fertilization.”

Altitude is another major factor in the beans’ development. “La Providencia is situated between 1300-1400 meters above sea level, which means the beans can take a bit longer to ripen,” he says. Higher altitude also equals higher humidity, which can mean an increased chance of illness. The soil in the coffee farm is suited to forests, as is evident by the pine trees dotting the landscape between coffee plants. “Where there are pine trees, there is highly acidic soil. We have had to work the soil with materials that help lower the acidity of the soil,” Marvin says.

“La Providencia is situated between 1300-1400 meters above sea level, which means the beans can take a bit longer to ripen,”

Honduran beans arriving at Square One Coffee.
Honduran beans arriving at Square One Coffee.
Marvin runs the operations on our coffee farm.
Marvin runs the operations on our coffee farm.
Hulled beans, ready for drying.
Hulled beans, ready for drying.

But — and this is the crucial part — altitude challenges don’t affect the beans’ flavor. “This cup of coffee has a moderate flavor profile,” Marvin says. And as for how he drinks it? “Just black without much sugar. I like it a bit strong…bitter. That’s how we drink it.”