Milk chocolate, baking spices, and delicate aromas of lime and apricot introduce this complex stunner from Mario Moreno. We find a diverse and pleasing array of flavors in the cup as it cools: gentle stone fruit, warming caramel and wafer cookie, mild baking spices, and a lemony citrus quality.
This delightful field blend of the catuaí and pacas varieties was produced by Mario Moreno, a member of the famous family of Santa Barbara coffee producers that has played an especially significant role in establishing the region’s reputation as the source of some of the finest coffees in Honduras.
Since the 2005 Cup of Excellence, Santa Barbara has been known as the region producing the most interesting, complex, and delicious coffees in Honduras. Two key families have been at the heart of this regional fame: the Paz family, who owns San Vicente, the company responsible for milling and exporting the coffees from the region, and the Moreno family, a farming family who has championed specialty coffee and the benefits it brings and have encouraged many other producers in the region to begin producing specialty coffee over commodity coffee.
The Moreno family patriarch, Daniel Moreno, started coffee farming in 1963 with the purchase of El Campo, a plantation that is still in production and now managed by his seven sons: Miguel, Mario, Jesus, Gerardo, Olvin, Mabel and Danny. In addition to El Campo, the brothers inherited their own farms from their father, who divided El Filo into lots for each son. Together the Morenos built a wet mill, raised beds, and solar dryers to process and prepare specialty coffee. The family helps and motivates other farmers in the region, including other producers that Passenger has supported such as Jeovany Rivera, to produce and prepare better quality by sharing their knowledge and even facilities. There is a palpable eagerness in the area. An eagerness to produce excellent coffee, to get paid well for their efforts, and to continue being considered the best coffee producing region in Honduras.
The village of El Cedral is close to the jungle, and as such close to rain. This can make drying the coffees challenging, but it also makes the reward of drying the coffee well all the sweeter (quite literally in this case). The drying, combined with good plant genetics, climate (warm days and sometimes quite cold nights), and soil (volcanic) make for incredibly unique, complex and delicious coffees, unlike anything else found in Honduras.
While this is not the first time that Passenger has featured a coffee produced by Mario Moreno, it is the first time that we have bought a small selection from his “Los Andes” plot. When driving from the San Vicente Mill to the main Moreno family farms of El Cedral and El Filo, one passes through a village on the ridge called Los Andes. For many years, Mario has cultivated a small number of coffee trees here and the present single-bag lot comes from these trees planted near the village.