Origin Field Lab: Honduras – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the cost of the Origin Field Lab, and what is included in that cost?
The OFL costs $1,850 per person and includes all lodging, meals, lab materials, and transportation for five nights and four days in Honduras. The lab fee does NOT include individual airfare to Honduras, nor does it include souvenirs, communication (international phone calls), or alcoholic beverages that the individual might choose to purchase. 

2. What are the dates for the lab?
Lab activities will begin in San Pedro Sula, Honduras at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 13th and end in San Pedro Sula Friday evening, March 18th. Participants should make travel arrangements to arrive in San Pedro Sula no later than 2 p.m. CST March 13, and depart from San Pedro Sula on or after Saturday March 19.

3. Which flight should I book?
There are only a few flights from the United States that arrive in San Pedro Sula daily. Once an applicant has been accepted, a Counter Culture representative will contact you with flight recommendations.

3. How do I apply for the 2015 lab?
Application is online here. Participation is limited to exclusive wholesale customers.

4. Why Honduras?
Since 2004, Counter Culture has been taking groups of explorers to experience coffee farming at origin. We’ve chosen Honduras because of the concentration and diversity of individual and cooperatively-based producers there with whom Counter Culture has relationships, as well as proximity to the United States. Political history and agricultural proclivities contribute to a unique view of the complexities of contemporary coffee production.

5. Where in Honduras will the group travel?
Activities are concentrated in areas of Western Honduras, beginning and ending in San Pedro Sula, home of Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport and Finca El Puente’s exporting partner, Boncafé.  The majority of lab activities will take place in and around Marcala, Honduras, and the group will also visit Copán to tour a major archaeological site of the Maya civilization.

6. What can I expect from this lab, and what, in turn, does Counter Culture expect from me?
We designed the Origin Field Lab as an advanced course for coffee professionals with an interest in international travel and cultural exchange. As a participant, you may expect: a thoughtfully-designed curriculum, lab instructors with experience and knowledge of coffee as well as local history and culture, a dedicated group of fellow students and perspective on coffee that only comes through hands-on learning.

From our attendees, Counter Culture expects: passion for coffee, an eagerness to learn with and from your peers, patience and flexibility for the peculiarities of international travel, and open-mindedness about coffee, people, and cultures other than your own.

7. Are there any prerequisites to attending the Origin Field Lab?
Applicants should be employees of Counter Culture’s exclusive wholesale customers.

We expect participants in this in-depth course to have a base level of coffee knowledge and cupping experience. We recommend participants take the Coffee Origins Lab and Cupping Fundamentals (or have some cupping experience) prior to the Origin Field lab.

8. What will our accommodations be like?
We attempt to make the Field lab as affordable as possible, and accordingly, you shouldn’t expect luxury. We will stay in clean, comfortable hotels in San Pedro Sula, Marcala, and Copán.  Most meals will be at trusted local restaurants or at hotels.

9. If I have never traveled outside the United States, will that be a problem? What if I don’t speak Spanish?
Aside from the obvious documents you will need (like a passport), it should not be a problem at all.  We strive to help everyone, regardless of travel experience, feel comfortable and will provide a list of recommended items to pack to trip participants. Spanish language skills are certainly helpful, but not necessary.

10. Is the Origin Field Lab physically demanding?
Participants should be prepared to spend at least two hours per day walking on hilly, uneven trails. You need not be a star athlete—we have traveled with a pregnant woman and a few folks in their 60s—but comfort on your feet and a healthy respiratory system are crucial for this lab.

11. Should I be concerned about safety while traveling in Honduras?
Though Honduras and other areas in Central America have made the news due to drug trafficking and violence, the parts of Honduras we will be visiting are neither particularly touristy nor urban, and Marcala is not known to be a violent place. Our coffee buyers have not felt threatened in their travels in Honduras. We’ll travel in a group throughout the week, and there won’t be much time to explore.

12. If I have a scheduling conflict, can I join the lab late/leave early?
The dates for 2016 are firm, and we cannot accept late arrivals or early departures.

13. Will I have free time to go sightseeing on my own?
We have a full schedule during our five-day intensive course, and we expect all participants to attend all of the OFLH’s classes and activities. We have planned for a couple of hours of free time each evening, which is enough time for participants to read, play games, and relax, but not enough time for off-site activities. In years past, some lab participants have chosen to arrive early or extend their stay past the scheduled dates in order to explore the country beyond coffee, and you are, of course, welcome to do the same, though we’d recommend traveling with a buddy.

14. Can my friend/partner/spouse come along?
Space is very limited on the Origin Field lab. Trip participants apply individually; applications are considered on an individual basis. While we have accommodated friends and couples in the past, all applicants should have a strong interest in learning about coffee and expect to engage coffee-related activities throughout the week, and all applicants must be wholesale customers of Counter Culture.

15. I have some dietary restrictions. Will I be able to participate?
We’ll ask you to disclose your specific restrictions prior to traveling so that we can plan, but generally, it probably won’t be a problem. Prior Field Lab attendees who adhered to vegetarian and vegan diets or had food allergies have successfully navigated the trip, although if your diet is restrictive, we do recommend that you travel with snacks that you can keep in your day bag.

16. When will I know if my application has been accepted?
We will consider applications on a rolling basis until we fill all available slots, or until January 15, 2016, whichever comes first. We will let you know within a few weeks of your submission whether your application has been accepted.

17. When is the next Origin Field Lab, and where?
At this point, we anticipate hosting one week-long Field Lab annually; this trip is the only one on our itinerary at this time.