¡Que bien sabe un cafe, cuando se produce con responsibilidad!

By: Chris Davidson

“How well coffee is known, when produced with sustainability!” From COMSA’s website: http://www.cafeorganicomarcala.net/

Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) formed in 2001 with 60 farmers (12 women and 48 men,) initially using the name FUNDER (Fundación para el Desarrollo Empresarial Rural.) The founding mission of this organization remains the same today: to empower small farmers in the department of La Paz, Honduras to earn a dependable income through sound business and sustainable agricultural practices. Organic farming is at the heart of COMSA’s core values, consistent with their holistic vision: “To be a competitive company, viable and known for quality coffee, managed with total transparency, gender equality and harmony with nature contributing to the improvement of living conditions of our members and their families.”

COMSA’s work in Marcala, La Paz goes far beyond producing fantastic quality coffee. Their demonstration farm Finca La Fortaleza is a living, breathing model of how a coffee farmer can create closed loop systems to fully sustain their families through agriculture. At La Fortaleza, COMSA agronomists teach producers from all over Latin America how to use elements available on and around their farms to create organic fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides. Their philosophy is to return to the soil in compensation of what it provides. Local farmers can bring in soil samples for analysis at La Fortaleza’s on site chromatography lab, and learn exactly what inputs their land needs to be optimally productive. COMSA members can qualify for grants to obtain chickens, goats and sheep. Workshops are taught at La Fortaleza to educate farmers about how to properly care for their animals and fully realize their benefits. COMSA calls the pillars of their guiding philosophy “The Five M’s:” organic Material,Microorganisms, Minerals, living Molecules and gray Matter (a.k.a. the brain.)

Marcala is located in Honduras’ Montecillos mountain range, and was the world’s first registered coffee Denomination of Origin. Producers in Marcala prepare to plant in a unique way and they also harvest in a unique manner, introducing a selection method at the picking stage. For many years the quality of Marcala coffee was unsurpassed in Honduras, and COMSA’s members carry that pride through every step of the process. In 2010, COMSA began promoting coffees from a select few members as “microlots,” identifying the best qualities from the peak of the harvest and adding a new level of quality and traceability to their product. In our experience at Atlas, Marcala coffees have a character unique in Honduras, featuring bright citrus, lemongrass, ginger and sugar cane as well as other nuanced flavors. This could be attributed partly to the terrific elevation of La Cordillera de Montecillos which can reach heights over 1,800 masl, also to some relatively exotic varities such as Typica and Pacamara that occasionally appear. COMSA’s SHG EP type retains some of this sophisticated character, with green apple, honey, pear and maple also commonly found in the cup. COMSA’s incredible commitment to sustainable organic farming and producer education, their Fair Trade and Organic certifications, terrific quality and availability of microlots make them one of our favorite suppliers to work with, and we’re proud to help new buyers discover their wonderful coffees.

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