Last February, just prior to Covid-19 shutting down borders, Rachel and Susan visited Katia to learn first hand some of the challenges faced in coffee production. By Rachel Dineen, Manager Coffee Tree Roastery
Hondura Coffee Producer Katia Duke is redefining Specialty Coffee on her Farm
In coffee production, there are many factors that are out of control of the farmer, such as climate change or altitude. So how can the producer ensure they’re always sending out the best quality coffee?
At higher altitudes the coffee develops at a slower rate and produces a denser, richer taste because of the lower oxygen levels.
Katia Duke has a farm at 1200m which is considered low, but she has found that paying close attention to her processing has allowed her to consistently produce a high level specialty coffee.
What is she doing differently?
All of her beans are only picked when the cherry is ripest. She pays her workers 10 lempira more than the going rate to ensure they’re only picking the best coffee. The coffee, after drying is all hand sorted and selected to remove any defective or damaged beans. Learn more about the cost breakdown of your cup of coffee here.
The beans are only sorted after 1-1.5 months after picking because if you work too quickly, the coffee is inconsistent and can be astringent.
Tracking Lots is also important so she knows exactly which coffees turned out best so she can work to reproduce the same great results.
After they are hand selected to remove defects, there are further ways to ensure only the best beans go to market.
Katia Duke uses a screen to ensure consistency of the size of the beans (never smaller than a size 15) which will improve consistency of roast levels and ultimately the final taste of the coffee. The effort to improve Hondura coffee is evident in all aspects of Katia’s decisions.
While we were visiting the farm, Katia proudly showed us the newly constructed two room school, one room for the younger children and another for the older kids. Behind the school which, was built with money raised from GoFundMe, is a cement block kitchen. The kitchen is part of a larger plan to involve the children in eating more nutritious meals. There are plans for a vegetable garden and to provide safe water for drinking and washing. She told us she is teaching the children how to wash their hands; they all suffer from stomach ailments related to unclean water. We take safe water for granted but it is an ongoing challenge on the farm. The families live on location for the season and the conditions are quite primitive, no clean or running water, no electricity, and just forget about internet. We are happy to support Katia as she endeavours to improve the lives of the families and the children in her fold.