At Counter Culture, we spend a lot of our time learning and teaching our customers about coffee origin. Once a year, we take eight participants from our wholesale partners to a coffee-growing country and introduce them to our producer-partners through our Origin Field Lab. We visit exporters, cooperatives, mills, and farms. Participants get to experience each of the steps coffee takes and witness the ins and outs of coffee production.
Where did we go this year?
This year, we went to Honduras. We started in San Pedro Sula where we visited one of our exporting partners, Bon Cafe. Then we made our way to La Labor where we visited our oldest running partner, Finca Pashapa, and the incredibly sustainable Cooperativa Cafetalera Ecológica La Labor Ocotepeque Limitada (COCAFELOL). To finish off the trip, we visited the Finca El Puente farm near Marcala where students had the chance to pick and depulp coffee cherries by hand. Each visit involved cupping coffees with professionals and gleaning insightful knowledge on subjects like the history of coffee in Honduras, the rise of specialty coffee, soil health, and newly discovered varieties.
How do I get to do this?
The Origin Field Lab is reserved for our wholesale partners. This lab is the culmination of our Professional Development curriculum. We open up the application process to our wholesale accounts in the fall and confirm our roster by winter. This year, we took baristas from PK Coffee, Camino Bakery, Not Just Coffee, Superior Coffee, Dose Coffee and Tea, and Love Coffee Bar. The trip is usually scheduled sometime in late March or early April. If you’re curious to hear more about the application process, email our Education Manager, Emily Davis, at [email protected].
Here are some recaps from trip participants:
Jordan Poe-Crawford | Manager and Co-owner of Camino Bakery | Winston-Salem, NC
“The Origin Field Lab was truly an incredible experience. Heading into the trip, I knew the basic path of coffee from the cherry to export; I expected to visit a few farms, see coffee being grown, and learn the finer details of wet milling and drying.
“Without seeing it first hand, it’s really easy to get zoomed in on the final product you’re offering in a cafe and miss all of the work that goes into producing and processing specialty coffee. I was blown away by the amount of effort and dedication it takes to bring coffee from the plant to green beans that are ready for export. It is still such a manual and homegrown process, and producers like Moises and Marysabel of Finca El Puente are dedicated to finding new ways to make their farms more sustainable and simultaneously higher yielding. Additionally, collectives like COCAFELOL are helping smaller farmers produce a higher quality crop each year by pooling resources, seeking to minimize and reuse waste products, and providing farms with fertilizers and access to scientific tools like soil analysis.
“You can learn about the path of coffee from plant to cup all you want in classes, but seeing it in person puts it in a new, humanizing light. I feel that anyone with a serious interest in specialty coffee should visit origin at least once.”
Dan Durakovich | Barista at Love Coffee Bar | Santa Monica, CA
“Visiting origin is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people who work in the industry so I made sure to jump at this trip to Honduras. Not only did I get a firsthand look at all the work that goes into the supply chain, but I also gained a vast perspective of the industry on a global scale. You get a glimpse of all the groundwork Counter Culture has laid for the past 25 years and how their forward-thinking business model translates to where it matters most—on the farms. Being able to draw a straight line from the coffee you drink to the lot where it was nurtured is pretty special. I’m extremely grateful to Counter Culture and especially our hosts in Honduras for this trip.”