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Following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the infrastructure of Honduras was left in tatters, leaving much of the Honduran coffee crop unharvested and left to rot. On the flipside, the devastation provided Honduran farmers an opportunity to reinvent the reputation of Honduran Coffee in the world specialty coffee scene. By improving crop quality and utilizing specialty, organic and Fair trade premiums, Honduran coffee has been able to rise to the top in the quality coffee world!
COPROCAEL stands for Cooperativa De Productores De Cafe La Encarnacion Limitada which is based in the municipality of La Encarnacion in the Ocotepeque department in Honduras near the boarder of El Salvador.
Their total organic production for 2011 will be 40 containers of coffee. Organic farmers are yielding an average of 40-50 quintales of parchment per manzana and can have a maximum yield of up to 65 quintales per manzana which is an impressive amount of yield by any standard for organics. They have implemented a successful worm composting system into which they deposit all of their left-over coffee pulp. The worm composting is done onsite and the resulting compost is then used for organic production. They use 3 pounds of compost on each tree, 3 times per year. Some farmers including General Manager Nelson Guerra Chinchilla use additional organic inputs on their land. They are expecting their total organic production to continue to increase as their members continue to transition into organic.
The cooperative owns and manages a demonstration farm where they took completely arid land and turned into a highly productive farm within a few years through deep mulching and worm composting. They use this land as an example to teach other farmers about better organic farming practices and the positive impact which can result.
COPROCAEL has a central wet mill where they process all of their coffee. They use aquapulping, which is an eco-friendly substitute for the normal pulp, wash, and ferment procedure in traditional wet processing. They also have the capacity to ferment their beans once they have been pulped. They choose not to because it is more water efficient to use aquapulping and they have found no discernible negative impact in so doing. They have 3 methods of drying the pergamino down to 12%: Passive solar drying, patio drying, and drying machines. They primarily use the drying drums. They are also in the process of implementing the solar dryers on raised beds as well.