Municipality: San Pedro Copán
Town: Las Capucas
Farm: Small holders from the Capucas Cooperative
Altitude: 1450 – 1600 masl
This fabulous coffee comes from the Cooperative Cafetalera Capucas Limitada (Cocafcal) or as its usually known, Capucas, taking its name from the local town Las Capucas. It is situated on and around the Celaque mountain, the highest peak in Honduras.
The story goes way back to 1885, when a man called Atanacio Rodolfo Romero (great grandfather of Rodriguez-Romero family), purchased some small pockets of land in Las Capucas Municipality of the Copan Region of Honduras. He began growing mainly tobacco. He also grew some coffee which was purely for his family’s consumption. Around 75 years later, his son Atanacio Rodolfo Romero (yes, they share exactly the same name!) took a trip to Costa Rica where he was able to learn about how to produce high quality coffee. Upon his return, he decided to switch the family’s farm from tobacco growing to coffee and thus laid the foundation for Las Capucas to eventually become one of the leading and most prominent areas for coffee growers in Honduras.
The next important person in the Capucas story in a man named Jose Omar Rodriguez – a coffee producer in the area – wanted to share the vast knowledge he had when it came to cultivation and the successful commercialisation of coffee. He wanted to share this knowledge with the other Capucas farmers, mostly extended family members. So, in 1999 he founded the Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada, COCAFCAL – aka Capucas Coop.
COCAFCAL was one of the first cooperatives to be registered in Honduras and added value to their product by extra hard work, thus being able to obtain both the Fairtrade and Organic certifications. Before the 2000’s the expectations for speciality quality coffee coming from Honduras were pretty much non-existent and Omar Rodriguez changed this with the coop and his knowledge bringing in the right buyers and helping the farmers to produce the quality of coffee expected.
Five years later, in 2004, Omar was chosen to become the general manager and still holds this role today. Within the next 10 years of the cooperative being formed many small farmers joined as well as some withdrawing from the cooperative. Despite this, the coop now has 700 active members who believe and actively participate in the cooperative’s vision and mission.
THE COOPERATIVE’S VISION AND MISSION
“We are a cooperative organization that works with social and environmental responsibility, developing and offering quality products and services, with added value, seeking to satisfy the requirements of our customers, thereby generating well-being for our partners, employees and community. Offering our products to the national and international market, implementing the best practices under diversification, cooperative and corporate principles.”
“To be the Cooperative that manages its resources in a rational and transparent way, in order to guarantee the sustainability of coffee in the Western region of Honduras and its areas of influence, thereby improving the quality of life of its associates, collaborators and the community in general. . Differentiated and recognized as a business management model, through a dynamic of permanent growth, to achieve financial soundness, infrastructure and strengthening the skills of human resources.”
The coop represents many coffee farmers and their communities in the larger area of Copan. They all work together to not only promote the sustainable development of their communities, but they also strive to reduce poverty and increase living standards for all of the communities.
In 2016 Capucas partnered with the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) to provide a university education with a virtual classroom opened to the community of Capucas in a rural part of San Pedro Copan. They also have a football academy and virtual library free to the Capucas coop members. Their initiatives and programs have benefited thousands (approximately 5000) of people in Las Capucas and the surrounding regions.
Apart from investing in the certification premiums (Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance) as part of their environmental campaign, the cooperative has many initiatives to improve workers’ lives and the local community. These include a football school, a virtual classroom, and a clinic.
In 2016 Capucas partnered with the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) to provide a university education with a virtual classroom opened to the community of Capucas in a rural part of San Pedro Copan. They also have a football academy and virtual library free to the Capucas coop members. The football school was established with “the aim of strengthening the education of our future generations” and the aim “of integrating young people into different educational activities”. The clinic provides a GP service, free from Monday to Friday and is located in the Capucas village. There are also medical brigades that serve the various communities under the coop.
The growth of the cooperative has been immense, but it has grown with the right ethos and values in place and continues to do so. Omar Rodriguez is still a key individual who strives to continue this growth and development. He says: “There is still great potential for new members. Being small producers is our guarantee of good agricultural practices and the best quality for our clients”. COCAFCAL now has added a computer lab for its members, a coffee shop and roasting business where members can be trained on all the other parts of the supply chain. They have a coffee tree nursery and they have been the first in Honduras to use solar dryers.
It is fair to say that this coffee deserves to be tasted and by purchasing you too are helping improve the lives of the people behind your daily cup of coffee!
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