Chance Coffee | Honduras Israel Ramirez | 12oz Whole Bean
BROWN SUGAR, FRUIT PUNCH, RED APPLE
Region: San Miguel de Selguapa, Comayagua
Producer: Israel Ramirez
Farm: La Hachazon
Altitude: 1750 MASL
Imported by Semilla Coffee
12oz Whole Bean
About Los Ramirez:
Israel Ramirez is the eldest son of Antonio Ramirez, the patriarch of the Los Ramirez group, and a veritable leader of the community in his own right. As a young man, he began growing coffee in 1990, only about 5 years after his father Antonio began the earliest crops in Selguapa. Just as with many of the Los Ramirez clan, he started his farm from seeds given to him by Antonio — Typica and Bourbon that Antonio found planted on his land, and which he continued to grow.
At this time, the price for coffee was so low it didn’t offer a liveable wage, which led he and other community members to have to take other jobs to make ends meet. In truth, coffee has almost never served to pay the bills for producers in Selguapa From 1985 all the way through to 2018, this group would grow their coffee and sell it to local intermediaries in cherry, often carrying it down to the town of Comayagua on mule-back in order to do so. As Antonio explained, they had no idea what the true value of their coffee was and as such, sold it this way unaware there were other opportunities. Currently, there are about 800 coffee producers in Selguapa but only the roughly 25 members of Los Ramirez have taken the initiative to process and sell their own coffee as specialty grade. The going price in Honduras this year was between 1650-1800L/quintal exportable green. The members of Selguapa received 6000L.
In 2018, a member of the community named Jesus “Chungo” Galeas was working for the Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) and came in contact with Rony Gamez, owner of Cafe Raga. Rony himself is a former IHCAFE field technician and Q grader who has served as a judge in multiple Cup of Excellence competitions around the world and has now shifted his business to serve as a conduit for specialty buyers to remote coffee growing communities that have traditionally been overlooked in Honduras. Once connected to Selguapa, Rony and Jesus began the process of training the members on producing micro-lots for sale to the specialty market. This included everything from cherry collection to fermentation and drying, and continues in the form of biannual reunions with the Cafe Raga team, relying on feedback from buyers like Semilla to inform how coffees were received by roaster partners and end consumers.
Israel serves as a defacto leader of this group, organizing and chairing community meetings and outlining many of the goals the group shares together. As part of their desire to see the community as a whole gain access to their growing specialty market base, this year the family invested further in twenty communal drying beds as well as a Penagos ecopulper which is shared by multiple members of the group. They’ve also created a group emergency fund which members must contribute to with one quintal’s earnings per season, and can be relied upon by all members as necessary.
Israel, however, invested in his own drying setup himself and this year revamped his setup with his own Penagos machine. His two-story beneficio includes a floating tank elevated above his tiled fermentation tanks, and he has two large greenhouses or “secadores solares” behind his house where he dries the coffee. Once his coffee has been dried and cooled, the parchment is stored in sealed plastic bags until it is transported to the mill to be processed for export.
This year, his focus on improved fermentation and cooler, slower drying times yielded a much more complex cup that’s classically clean and sweet. All of the group is now checking the moisture content of their coffees as well to ensure it’s in the range of 10.5% before being pulled from the drying beds.
- Semilla Coffee