Crimson Cup Leads Independent Coffee House Owners and Baristas on Seed-to-Cup Journey in Honduras

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Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea recently led owners and staff from six independently owned coffee houses on a seed-to-cup exploration of coffee growing in the Siguatepeque region of Honduras. They made connections with coffee farmers, workers and processors and learned about their roles in preparing coffee.

Crimson Cup staff, coffee house owners, managers and baristas visit a Honduran coffee farm

Crimson Cup staff, coffee house owners, managers and baristas visit a Honduran coffee farm

Being directly connected with a farmer who has a product on the shelf of our coffee shop is truly special to me. It puts a face and a soul behind the product. I feel a new responsibility and passion to serve their coffee and share their story with customers.

Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea recently flew owners and staff from six independently owned coffee houses to the Siguatepeque region of Honduras. There, they followed the coffee’s journey from seed to cup while learning about the roles of the coffee farmers, workers and processors who prepare coffee served in their shops.

“Our goal was to strengthen the relationship between coffee growers, Crimson Cup and our customers,” said Crimson Cup Coffee Buyer Dave Eldridge, who led the trip. Crimson Cup Roast Master Dave Rochus and Coffee House Manager Jennifer Kerchner joined the group to gain expertise in direct-trade coffee sourcing and to forge relationships with coffee growers.

“Seeing the hard work that goes into growing the coffee you serve is a life-altering experience!” Kerchner said.

Participants included Krispin DeCamp, manager of Court Street Coffee in Athens, Ohio; Julie A. Driesbach, owner of Scioto Valley Coffee House in Circleville, Ohio; Kat and Pat Bissell, owners of The Coffee Attic & Book Cellar in Iowa Falls, Iowa; Lauren McCurdy and Ashley Garrison, baristas at 5 Bean Coffee House in Reynoldsburg, Ohio; and Jacob Hill, manager of the Crimson Cup Coffee House in Clintonville, Ohio.

The group began their three-day tour by meeting with farmers to discuss their needs and challenges. “This was a unique and wonderful opportunity for us to learn about coffee production and the people that are most impacted by it,” said Kat Bissell.

The second day started with a visit to a primary school in El Socorro, where the group learned about Crimson Cup’s involvement in providing new computer desks, funding a second teacher for a year, building new bathrooms and other contributions.

Next, they visited coffee processing facilities operated by local farmer David Lopez. They learned about wet milling and coffee drying processes and inspected a raised drying bed supported by Crimson Cup. The day concluded with a tour of Lopez’s farm, Finca Los Amigos, where they held a coffee picking competition to understand the hard work that goes into harvesting each crop.

“Connecting with David Lopez and some of the other local farmers opened our eyes to the struggles that they face,” said Pat Bissell. “It also opened our eyes to some of the opportunities that we have to make a difference.”

The final day included a tour of the dry mill at The Cooperativa Cafetalera Siguatepeque Limitada (COHORSIL) followed by a cupping of David Lopez’s coffee. Finally, they visited Aqua Salada, Honduras, where they built two latrines for families in need and visited with a family that has received a water filter bucket through Crimson Cup’s 10 Cents of Change program.

At the end of the trip, participants agreed it had altered the way they see coffee and the people who produce it.

“Most humbling, rewarding experience of my life…can’t wait to go back!” Driesbach said. “Really makes you think about and reevaluate all the things we take for granted.”

Some pledged to incorporate lessons learned on the trip into the way they buy and serve coffee. “We will definitely think about the coffee that we buy and what difference it is making in a community,” Kat Bissell said.

“Being directly connected with a farmer who has a product on the shelf of our coffee shop is truly special to me. It puts a face and a soul behind the product,” McCurdy said. “I feel a new responsibility and passion to serve their coffee and share their story with customers in a way that honors the livelihoods represented by each cup.”

Crimson Cup has been working with smallholder coffee farmers in the Siguatepeque region since 2011. Through its Friend2Farmer program, the roaster purchases coffee directly from farmers at an above-market premium, assists with coffee quality improvement and donates to educational and health programs in the community.

About Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea

Columbus, Ohio coffee roaster Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea is Roast magazine’s 2016 Macro Roaster of the Year. Since 1991, Crimson Cup has roasted sustainably sourced craft coffee in small batches, sold directly to consumers and as wholesale coffee beans. Through its 7 Steps to Success coffee franchise alternative program, the company also teaches entrepreneurs to run successful coffee houses. By developing a coffee shop business plan, prospective entrepreneurs gain insight into how much it costs to open a coffee shop. Crimson Cup coffee is available through more than 350 independent coffee houses, grocers, college and universities, restaurants and food service operations across 37 states, Guam and Bangladesh, as well as the company’s own Crimson Cup Coffee Houses. To learn more, visit crimsoncup.com.

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Cheryl Claypoole
@crimsoncup
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