Spilling The Beans

21 Feb 2007

A group of Lenca Indians, one of the largest indigenous groups in Honduras are about to deliver the first thousand sacks of quality-controlled coffee from their native Montecillos Marcala area, recognized as an ‘appellation’-style coffee-growing region in 2005.

The mountainous Montecillos Marcala area was the first in Central America to register its produce under regional label of origin and control when intellectual property laws were reinforced two years ago.

The Honduran property registry now proudly declares that the area’s coffee beans, grown at an altitude of over 1,200 meters, have ‘flavors of orange, sweet peach, lively and intense acidity and a creamy, smooth and clean body’.

Honduras, which exported 2.9 million 60-kg bags of coffee in 2005-6, has a reputation for selling coffee of mediocre flavor but the new label should help it polish its image.

‘Honduras has to take this matter very seriously to earn credibility,’ explains Francisco Tomas, leader of a Spanish government aid group coffee project that funded the appellation scheme. ‘The country can not continue indefinitely selling a generic product for blends.’

The new Montecillos Marcala label will enable buyers to trace the precise origin of each sack of beans, as well as providing data on farms, picking, processing, taste quality and bean size.

The Honduran authorities assure that four more origin-specific regions will be registered over the next six years.

Honduras This Week

La Prensa

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