No one knows for sure exactly when coffee first reached Honduras, but it is believed that seeds arrived from Costa Rica between 1799 and 1804, amongst the goods brought by travelling merchants. Today, Honduras is the largest coffee producer in Central America, and the industry plays an important role within the national economy.
Despite the huge scale of its annual coffee production and great potential for both growth and quality development, in the Central American coffee hall of fame, Honduras is rarely found at centre stage – a mantle more likely coveted by its neighbours, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. And yet on paper the reputation of Honduras should be up there with those countries, since it has the same conditions to produce very good coffees: high altitude, volcanic and fertile soils, an ideal climate and plenty of expertise. Unfortunately, a lack of investment and inadequate infrastructure means that we must work extra hard to find the best coffees that Honduras offers. Much of the country’s output feeds the commodity coffee market, despite the steps taken to improve quality by the country’s national coffee institute: Instituto Hondureno del Café (IHCAFE). The high average annual rainfall, which reaches 240cm in the North of the country, can also complicate the process of drying coffee once it has been harvested, prior to export.
Honduran specialty coffees are classified using a system categorized by the height at which the coffee was grown. Strictly High Grown (SHG), applies to coffees grown above 1200 masl, and High Grown (HG) above 1000 masl. Alike other Central American nations, Honduran coffee is shipped in 69 kilo bags.