It all started at 4:30am on a Monday morning. I woke up, put on my comfy traveling outfit, braided my hair, and kissed my family goodbye before hopping into Harry and Leticia’s truck waiting for me outside. After scooping up Daryl, our incredible Sales Lead, we were on our way to the busiest airport in the world: Hartsfield-Jackson International.
When our plane landed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, my first thought was, “Did we just land in the middle of the jungle?” I’m not kidding when I say the airport is truly a drop in the middle of the most luscious and green forest I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s stunning.
A little fun fact about our family coffee farms is that they’re a solid 4-5 hour drive from the airport. So what did we do after our 4 hour flight? We hopped into a van where our incredible driver, Daniel, navigated the not-quite-paved roads of Honduras to get us to our destination: Finca Terrerito. Along the way, we stopped for snacks like freshly picked lychee, pineapples, coconuts, and a Honduran classic - baleadas! What’s a baleada, you ask? Great question. A baleada is a tortilla filled with mashed beans, scrambled eggs, and crema. 10/10 recommend!
At the farm, we were greeted by so many wonderful and kind people who immediately made us feel welcome and included. They fed us more baleadas and gave us a quick lay of the land before the sun fully set and left us in the dark.
The next morning, we started bright and early. After a hearty breakfast of, you guessed it, more baleadas, we set off to climb up to the cross that sits at the crest of a mountain inside of Finca T. The view from the top is unbelievable and stretches a great distance. From the cross, you can see the reservoir, the barn where the farm animals sleep, the processing plant, and the Finca T offices. It’s a lot to take in, but wow - what an incredible sight.
After our hike to the cross, we made our way through the coffee trees, going up and up and up until I honestly wondered if I’d ever be able to make it back down… but all the sweat and muscle aches were 100% worth it when we got to put our eyes on abundantly growing, gorgeous coffee cherries. Leticia even split one open in her hand and tossed the beans into her mouth. We don’t recommend eating the bean, but you can enjoy the sweet taste of the mucilage inside the cherry. So incredible!
From there, Daryl and I were handed our own baskets to pick cherries. Let’s just say we could use some more practice. What looks so simple is actually a very niche, practiced skill. There’s a very specific method to picking cherries in order to avoid damaging the root of the cherry. Watching actual coffee pickers work their magic was eye-opening and honestly fascinating to observe.
Once we made our way back to the farm, it was time for lunch and a short break before visiting the Finca T offices for a cupping performed by Lourdes Villeda, Finca T’s Director of Quality Control & Exports, who just recently received her Q Grader certification. HUGE kudos to Lourdes for this giant achievement as it is an incredibly intense course and very difficult to pass. We are so proud of her! “Certified Q Graders are professionals skilled in sensory evaluation of green coffee, and are employed throughout the industry.” (From The Coffee Institute.)
The evening was capped off with a long quad ride to two of the other Alma Family Farms, Finca Alejandra and Finca Mariposa (“butterfly” in Spanish). Both farms were more beautiful than I ever could’ve imagined. Finca Alejandra was surrounded by the most gorgeous florals, all of which were blooming from the recent rains. And Finca Mariposa is aptly named as we witnessed many butterflies fluttering around the trees, plus we spotted several banana trees sporting huge bundles of bananas! So cool to see a fruit I normally buy at the grocery store actually growing in nature!
We ended the day by visiting some of the horses who call Finca T home, sipping coffee by the man-made reservoir, and taking a quick tour of the coffee processing plant, all followed by dinner time with a huge crew of Finca T team members. Dinner was by far the most powerful point of the day because it gave me the chance to hear from the side of the coffee business I wouldn’t normally be able to access or bare witness to so close up.
I went to bed that night not only physically exhausted from a day of go-go-going, but also with a huge sense of gratitude that I’m in a place to make a difference in the lives of the farm team. Day 1 of Honduras really opened my eyes to the magnitude of the coffee industry and how many lives depend on the work both the Finca T team and the Alma team is putting in. It’s incredible to see what we’ve been able to accomplish as we’ve come together to build this business.
…and that was just Day 1! Stay tuned for Day 2 coming soon!
- Ashley Elayne