Last Thursday marked the first of the Central American Cup of Excellence auctions of the year, with Honduras up to bat. Twenty-two farmers who had entered this year’s competition gathered together at the Instituto Hondureño del Café quality lab in San Pedro Sula to watch the annual online auction, and soon enough, their worries melted away: At $9.92 per pound by the close of the auction, a new price record was set for Honduras.
Jorge Lanza’s top scoring coffee from the well-known Santa Barbara region received $25.20 per pound, but not far behind in either price or score sat the coffee from the farm Mira Valle located in the lesser-known Francisco Morazan region. Both farmers are planning to improve conditions for their workers and improve the farm overall.
“It is important that buyers know that the effort of the coffee growers to produce quality is huge and it is necessary that this effort is recognized with a good price,“ a happy Jorge Lanza said after the auction ended.
A whopping six coffees scoring over 90 points by the International Jury obtained substantial premiums from Japanese, Korean, and Australian buyers. The fourth place coffee from Fanny Yeselia Moreno, the only women to win this year, was purchased in part by a company in Japan also owned by a woman. “I am so excited,” she said. “We got an excellent price that we did not expect. I think women have much to show for quality in the coffee industry and I hope that next year more women are encouraged to participate in COE and that a woman wins.”
Other farmers had ambitious plans not only for their farms but for their families, given their hard-earned COE distinctions, as well: Miguel Angel Guzman, for example, said he was going to use his profit to send his children to school. “But the most important effect of COE and the auction is that it has increased my passion for coffee,” he said. “I think I lead my life with coffee in my blood, and when I saw the price of my coffee going up at the auction, my heart jumped with emotion and I thought about the future of my children.”
The amount of coffee available for the auction was appreciably less than in 2012 as production concerns due to the recent coffee-leaf rust outbreak required the organizers to lower the lot size requirements by about half for all of the 2013 Central American Cup of Excellence programs. Even so, the auction brought in over $400,000, which is significant at a time when overall coffees prices have dropped dramatically. While 12 of the 22 winners were from Santa Barbara there were also winners sold at the auction from Francisco, Morazan, Ocotepeque, La Paz, Intibuca, Comayagua, and Lempira proving that the growth in quality coffees is spread out across the country.
Heads up about the COE auctions in the next few weeks: Costa Rica is today, El Salvador is June 24, Guatemala is July 2, and Mexico is July 10!