Coffeeland Honduras: A Documentary

I got a really nice email from Jacob Orr of Safehouse Coffee & Tea in Griffin, Georgia, about an awesome documentary project they’re working on, which focuses on the devastation caused to coffee farming families and lands in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch.

Honduras in 1998, post Hurricane Mitch.

Jacob says, “We are doing a kickstarter to raise funds to make a documentary about our efforts to revitalize a coffee farming community in Honduras. If you could help us get the word out that would help a lot!” Jacob and his friend and coworker, Hunt Slade, are working on the Coffeeland Honduras project through their rad blog, dirtycup.com.

And we at Barista Magazine are happy to help.

I checked it out here, and it looks like a pretty cool project.

Here are the details:

“In February of 2011, we are going to the Olancho Department of Honduras, specifically a small village called Linares. For ten days, we will live with and work beside the 22 families of Linares as we begin the 7-10 year process of fully regenerating their coffee farms. See, 12 years ago, a massive storm named Hurricane Mitch swept over the tiny, mountainous, largely agrarian country of Honduras… Mitch set Honduras’ infrastructure back 50 years and the mountainside farms of Linares were all but leveled. The Linares families had been growing coffee for three generations on a season to season basis – meaning that they made just enough off a harvest to get through the next year and harvest the next crop. Once this manageable cycle was broken, the families of this extremely remote and poor village had no recourse but to resort to subsistence farming in their yards. Over the last 12 years, their water supply has been progressively fouled as the infrastructure of roads and utilities like water, sewer and power have still yet to reach them.

A scene of destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras.

The staff of Safehouse Coffee & Tea are going to begin the arduous labors of not only restoring the productivity of their farms, but teaching the farmers a more advanced agriculture that will earn them a higher price for the produce of their work – essentially working alongside them to create a qualitatively new system of family-owned farms.

dirtyCup.com seeks to document this process on film from the ground level through to the final product. This Kickstarter campaign is to fund the first in this series of documentaries that will show how a company, no matter how small, can get involved in positive ways in the lives of the farmers that grow the coffee we sell. This documentary will explore the logistics of taking a trip to the dangerous back-country of an origin country where coffee is grown. It will also show the struggles of daily life in coffee farming communities and the real difficulties of getting involved in their lives beyond business. dirtyCup Productions’ documentary will accurately show the ups and downs of a coffee company going to origin and making a difference in the lives of farmers in ways that are socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and economically sound for all those involved.

dirtyCup has spent the last year developing a voice in the global specialty coffee community by making videos about issues, current events and even products with a humorous and edgy presentation so that the weight of these topics would be balanced with an uplifting slant that keeps the viewer engaged. Now that dirtyCup’s voice has been solidly legitimized by those in the industry elite, we feel that it is our responsibility to bring some farther-reaching content to the public. The efforts of Safehouse Coffee & Tea in Honduras fit this bill perfectly, but in order to video all of these events in the hostile environments of the jungles and mountains of Honduras, we need some upgrades to our camera equipment (as you can tell by our submission video). That’s what this Kickstarter campaign is for: a comprehensive but compact camera rig that can be lugged through the humid forests and hiked 4000+ feet up into the mountains. Here’s how the $10,000 cost of this project breaks down -

* Camera, lighting and storage equipment $6,000
* Travel + 10 days in the back-country of Honduras $3,000
* Incidentals (it would be foolish not to plan for the unforeseen on a trip of this kind) $1,000
* Post-production work, printing, promotion and distribution will be completely on our dime – we believe in this project that much

Come on and get involved with Coffeeland Honduras – let’s kickstart a new way of doing coffee business!”

Bravo, dirtycup.com guys! If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Jacob and Hunt through dirtycup.com.

About the Author

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.