It was February 2023 – my first trip to the coffee lands since COVID, and my first trip since starting my own company. What better place to go than to the country that was a part of my first origin trip, I thought. Back to Honduras. I was on my way back to where the coffee bean starts its journey. And, more importantly, I was on my way to visit some old friends, and a community that I'd been working with since 2011 – over a decade.
Dan with Panchito in 2011, his first trip to Las Capucas Honduras.
As my trip approached I became both nervous and excited.... What had changed at the farm? What had changed in my own life? Over the years, I'd seen so many changes take place within the community of Las Capucas, and the COCAFCAL cooperative which Panchito co-founded, and I was curious to see what it would be like now. I was returning for the first time as a father, and a business owner.
How would Ella handle being at home with our twin girls (only 3 years old at the time) by herself for a whole week?
Upon my arrival to Las Capucas, I was comforted by familiar faces, sights and sounds: the sound of birds chirping so loudly they’d wake you up at the tropical sunrise; the faces of old friends, like Mary Portillo, who had taken over the cupping lab at COCAFCAL; the sight of Mount Celaque buttressing the horizon.
Dan in the cupping lab with Mary Portillo.
My first morning waking up on the land, the sun shone brightly, the warmth of its rays tempered by the caress of a cool mountain breeze. We ate breakfast and headed down to the Cooperative, where Panchito’s daughter Delmy greeted us. She had been just a small child the first time we met, but was not working in the lab.
Delmy and Mary prepared 30 coffees for us to taste for this year's Te Van A Conocer Compa auction, the annual competition to award the title of best coffee grown in the cooperative each year. Afterwards, we ate lunch and headed over to Panchito's farm, to pick some coffee, and see how the harvest was going. Omar, the co-op president, gave us a tour of COCAFCAL’s growing operation, showing us the coffee tree nursery, the solar coffee dryers, and the composting project.
Dan picking coffee on Panchito's farm.
After an afternoon of picking coffee, and seeing how it was processed, we headed back to our cabins for dinner, where we had a traditional meal of refried beans, fried plantains, steak and scrambled eggs. Panchito and Omar joined us, and we spent the evening talking around a fire.
Panchito by the fire, showing off his new T-shirt.
We cracked jokes, and spoke about the developments of the past four years since I'd last been able to visit. Panchito's eldest daughter, Claudia, had immigrated to the US to work, and another daughter, Lourdes, was now working in El Salvador training baristas. Each of his four children were beginning to forge lives of their own.
Panchito had always had a quiet pride, and a sentimentality for his family. But now with two girls of my own, seeing Panchito’s family grow (and grow up) over the years resonated with me in an entirely new way.
Panchito and his family had been a part of my story for the last ten years. Now, my family was a part of theirs.