Travel Update: Honduras + Nicaragua

Jose Francisco Villeda and family


Dan meeting farmers, Hoduras newspaper


Omar, Las Capucas Co-op President


The view from El Cielito in San Vicente




Coffee flowers in Nicaragua


Travel Diary

Dan, our Coffee Director, just returned from a coffee buying trip where he visited some old friend and made new coffee friends; sniffed, swirled and spit coffee; crossed borders and made the newspaper in Honduras…

Here are a few lines from his travel diary:

First stop, Capucas:

I wanted to drop a line about Las Capucas. Everything was amazing when we got here. Our hosts had built cabanas for us to stay in, which was real fun. This year the co-op had 40 new members join and I got to meet some of them. Great news, they all replaced their milling equipment with brand new milling equipment! Best of all, the coffee is improving. This year they had 44 lots in the competition (last year we had 30) and there were only 2 lots that we scored as “non-specialty”. This is an impressive achievement and I’m excited about how things continue to develop here.

On Saturday after the festival, I visited Jose Francisco Villeda (aka Pancho) and his family.  He is a farmer whose coffee we currently buy. It was really awesome to sit down with him and learn more about his farm and family. Pancho and his wife Patricia have 4 daughters and 1 son. This year Pancho is processing much more of his own coffee, instead of selling it to the mill. This is largely because of our commitment to continue buying from him and the prospect of us buying more coffee.


Two days in San Vicente:

Now we are in Santa Barbara and working with the San Vicente Dry Mill. Santa Barbara is the most famous part of Honduras to source coffee from right now.  Mostly because many of the “Cup of Excellence” winners come from here. For example the El Sauce coffee we had from CoE in 2010, which I visited today. We cupped 30 coffees in the Mill today, did a few farm visits and tomorrow are doing more farm visits from the coffees that we liked. I found one lot that I like a LOT which wasn’t spoken for and we are going to visit tomorrow.  It is all Bourbon, which is uncommon here with mostly Pacas and Catuai being grown.


Two days in Marcala:

We took a side trip to Marcala on the way to Nicaragua.  Marcala is probably the best known of Honduras’ growing regions.  It is a controlled Denomination of Origin by the Honduran Government, which means the coffees must be from the region of Marcala, and meet the quality specs.  This year however was the first year the mill here has separated “micro-lots”.  We cupped 30 coffees and saw some promise.  We also met an amazing young lady named Nancy Contreras, who has been cupping since she was 14 and now owns a coffee shop, roasts and cups at the mill. 

Last stop, Nicaragua:

Yesterday we crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua. This morning we are getting up early to head out to visit some farms. We toured around Ocotal (the city where we are) in two coffee growing regions, Dipilto and Mozonte.  The last day we cupped 30 coffees at Beneficio Las Segovias, before heading to the Managua.  Dipilto and Mozonte also showed tons of promise and some amazing producers with very distinct points of view.  

After two weeks on the road I am exhausted but amazed at the great coffees and people I have been introduced to. Looking forward to returning home to NYC.

Starting Something New

We’re proud to support the work of The Rainforest Foundation. We recognize the importance of restoring farmland with tree plantings amid coffee crops to provide a healthy habitat for surrounding flora and fauna. We are committed to sourcing beans from responsible and sustainable coffee growers worldwide.

By purchasing a special edition bag, you champion this cause and help our efforts to protect the environment.

Learn more about this project and other ways to get involved here.

Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert 2012

Founders Sting and Trudie Styler began the Rainforest Foundation International in 1989 after they saw first-hand the destruction of the Amazon rainforests, and the devastating impact it had on the lives of the indigenous peoples who lived there.

This week at the 2012 Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert Irving Farm is launching a collaboration project between Irving Farm and The Rainforest Foundation. We are donating $1 for every special-edition Rainforest Foundation bag sold.

Every dollar we give enables 9000 square feet of rainforest to be defended and 60 trees in a rainforest to be protected.

To join us in this cause, you can purchase a bag at

500 discerning palates filled Gotham Hall Wednesday for the annual Polaner Selections’ Wine Tasting. Chefs, Sommeliers and Beverage Directors sniffed, swirled and spit a large offering of amazing wines from around the globe.

Irving Farm was on hand to offer the counterpoint to the wine-crash, fresh, caffeinated espresso, cappuccinos and lattes made possible with the help from our friends at Organic Valley with their delicious NY dairy offering. 

Tam and Jake made coffees and sampled some wines themselves. One favorite was a delicious buttery, peppery Sicilian wine from Valle dell’Acate!  

(Via SPRUDGE.COM) Newsflash: There is good coffee in New York City on the Upper West Side! The UWS is a largely untapped resource for specialty coffee, perhaps due to the frankly odd way of life that exists there – $6500 a month apartments directly next door to $500 rent controls! doormen that make more during Christmas than you do all year! that remarkable park, right there within walking distance, close enough to call your back yard! – but more likely on account of ludicrously high rents. Opening a new cafe there is risky, but the folks at Irving Farm are betting big by setting up a flagship space at 264 W 79th, between Broadway and Amsterdam, in the heart of the UWS. Here’s some more from the Irving Farm blog:

We’re completely reconstructing a 1500 square-foot space on the ground floor of a historic brownstone on West 79th Street in Manhattan. From the building materials and brewing equipment, to the coffee menu and food offerings, we’re designing a space that will be unlike anything we’ve built before, and a cafe experience we hope will be unlike anything you’ve ever had before!

We’re still several weeks away from opening the doors, but we can’t help our excitement as all the new components begin to fit into place. On the counter, we’ll have a La Marzocco Strada and a beatifully hand-crafted bar for our Kalita pour-over gear—all of this to present our dynamic menu of blended and single-origin coffees that Dan Streetman (Ed. note: that’s him riding the Wooly Mammoth), our Coffee Director, has been working hard to source. In addition to the coffee, our menu will feature craft beers, a small list of wines and local meats and cheeses. And, to take it all in, we’ll have a back lounge with a skylight and a 10-foot community dining table made of reclaimed wood.

Irving Farm’s new cafe is designed by the architecture firm LEVENBETTS (we understand they prefer the full capitalization), whose website is here – we dare you not to lose an hour there.

Let’s put this is New York context, shall we? To reach the new Irving Farm cafe, one takes the oft-ignored 1 train, which, if you haven’t been on it in a while, is actually quite nice – there’s usually the full dot-tracking stop service in each car, and the tone of your train will be its own whole thing, a mix of Columbia students, incognito (or accidental) billionaires, and collected sociological samples from that odd para-world that exists along the Northern finger of Manhattan Island serviced by the 1, all the way to that amazing castle-thing in Fort Tryon Park. Take the 1 and get off on the 79th Street stop – Irving Farm UWS is a proverbial hop, skip, and jump away.

Irving Farm joins Joe NYC’s space on W. 84th (Ecco) and the Momofuku Milk Bar space on Columbus and W. 84th (Stumptown) as outposts for high-end non-Starbucks coffee options on that side of Central Park. It is also worth noting that Irving Farm’s new space will be within mere blocks (and a $19 suggested donation) from the T-Rex fossil on permanent exhibition at the American Natural History Museum. We’re working on an approbative thesis now: “Good Coffee and Dinosaurs: Towards A New Duality”.

More, we say! We want more good roasters represented above and around Central Park, and we want it now! Don’t you realize these neighborhoods are chockablock with curious billionaires, surreal vistas, and all manner of cool / weird stuff to do? Coffee is such a lovely way to enjoy and explore New York, and we don’t just mean the New York below 34th Street. This very promising development from Irving Farm gives us one more excellent excuse to go see the Aptosaurus, the wooly mammoth, and the Hayden Planetarium….summer softball in the park, anyone?

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