Precisely when coffee was introduced to Honduras is unclear, although the first notable harvest was recorded in 1804. Regardless of when the plants were introduced to Honduras, it is clear that coffee has played a significant role in the country's economy ever since. During the 2009 financial crisis, the coffee industry was credited for saving the national government from impending bankruptcy.
The Instituto Hondureño del Cafe (IHCAFE) was established in 1970 and later privatized, in 2000. IHCAFE seeks to encourage the development of hardier varieties, technologies, and infrastructure supporting the nations coffee industry, especially for the many smallholders. IHCAFE also promotes the country's Cup of Excellence competitions, which have helped to elevate the awareness of quality coffee from the regions.
Honduras now exports more coffee than any other nation in Central America with approximately 6.1 million bags exported from the 2015/2016 harvest. However, it is harder to find the higher-quality specialty coffees due, at least in part, to a lack of established infrastructure required. Lower prices and the reputation for lower quality has prevented farmers from being able to acquire the necessary investment for specialty coffees.
The wet Honduran climate makes drying particularly difficult and many farmers have turned to mechanical drying solutions. This does speed up the drying process but can contribute to instability in the moisture content and water activity of lots. However, the prominence of the Cup of Excellence competitions has attracted larger producers as well as IHCAFE to commence the needed investment in new varieties, infrastructure and processing techniques.
Agalta, Comayagua, Copan, Mentecillos, Opalca, El Paraiso
Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, IHCAFE 90, Lempira, Typica, some experimental varieties
November – April