In 1980, at a time before cooperatives were well-known, a group of twelve forward-thinking farming families in Siguatepeque, Honduras established COHORSIL. For forty years, COHORSIL has maintained their farmer-run status, devoting all of their efforts to growing economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable coffee in Honduras. The attribute their reach and success to what they have learned through four decades of trial and error. COHORSIL generously shares their knowledge and wisdom with their members but goes a step further by extending the same to other cooperatives in the region, as well as the outer regions of La Esperanza, Taulabe, and Comayagua.
COHORSIL's farmer members can access a diverse and international coffee market and are provided with marketing support. Farmers also have access to six strategically placed wet mills that then funnel coffee to the centralized dry mill in Siguatepque. The dry mill is set up to process large lots and microlots.
Members also have access to green coffee storage, farm implements/supplies, coffee seedlings/seeds, greenhouses, horticultural support, as well as the impressive facilities at the CICAM Mountain Research Center.
CICAM is a training facility located about 7 kilometers outside of Siguayepeque. Not only do they offer training and support for members of COHORSIL, but they also offer lodging, food, and training opportunties for guests from all over the world! This is a state of the art and very forward-thinking operation. We look forward to potentially hosting some educational opportunities here in the future!
COHORSIL has been very intentional in how and where they have built their wet mills. Each of their six mills grants central access to the farmers who are nearest it. Each is able to receive cherry and process that cherry in a continuous flow. All mills use recycled water throughout their systems. Water is not only essential for the movement of the coffee, but also acts as a lubricant for pulping, a tempering agent for fermentation, and a sorting tool to float off lower quality cherries and seeds.
Coffee is generally fermented for around 18 hours. But fermentation is a bit like baking. The person monitoring the process will make the final call on "doneness" by actually checking the coffee and seing if the mucilage has "broken." Once it has (again, generally taking about 18 hours), the coffee is run down washing channels in which people run paddles and create resistance against the running water. This scrubs off, or "washes" off, any residual mucilage left on the parchment. Some of the stations use a newer technology, called a demucilaginator to remove the residual mucilage from the parchment.
These water channels are also used as a rustic form of density sorting. By stirring the coffee continually, the lower density coffee (read: lower quality coffee) floats and the higher density sinks. This allows a stratification to occur, and the careful miller can then separate the strata into various levels of quality.
After washing and wet sorting, the coffee (now referred to as parchment, since it is still in its parchment covering) needs to be dried. Drying is a critical step that ensures that the quality instilled in the coffee is kept safe for the duration of its life before roasting. To naturally and not too quickly, remove the heaviest amount of moisture, the coffee is first laid out on patios ot "pre-dry." It is not actually "pre-dry," as drying is happening. However, this is a stage of conditioning before the rest of the moisture is removed at the dry mill.
Once the moisture is stable, the coffee is transported to the centralized dry mill in Siguatepeque where it is put into large "horizontal dryers." These towers of screens allow the coffee to slowly fall from the top to the bottom while hot air, created from burning discarded parchment, is pushed up from the bottom. The temperature is continually monitored, as well as the pace of the falling coffee. Through controlling these variables, the dry miller can control the speed at which the coffee dries. This generally takes about 72 hours.
After drying, the coffee is rested. Resting allows for the moisture that is left in the green coffee to slowly mitigate through the mass of beans, allowing the coffee to stabilize. Beyond the chore of properly sorting quality, stabilization is really the main goal and function of the dry milling. If the coffee is not stable it will drop in quality very quickly. A stable green coffee will last far longer. Longevity helps a roaster trust that they can go longer on green coffee purchase. Strategically, this is very wise for a cooperative to invest in, as this allows the roaster to make a larger purchase, and it builds trust with the roaster clients.
To prove this out, COHORSIL has been progressive in having its process fully certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO-9001).
Their work does not stop here, however. COHORSIL is also highly invested in fostering the entire coffeee community in Honduras. They have invested heavily in large greenhouse operations that support both coffee cultivation and lots of other frutis and vegetables. Along with the greenhouses, they have built fourteen farm-supply stores. They have also invested in organic fertilizer creation through vermiculture (worm farming) and using the biproducts from the coffee in composting.
They have enacted numerous projects focused on contirbuting to better health, education, environment, and social conditions. Their commitment to other cooperatives is reflected in their continued support for the creation of 3 additional cooperatives:
COCAPLAL Cooperativa Cafetalera Planes Limitada, located in the community of San Jose Los Planes, Meambar.
COCACOMOL Cooperativa Cafetalera Cordillera de Montecillos Lim itada, located in the community of Guachipilin, on the Cordillera de Montecillos.
COCACEBLAL Cerro Blanco Coffee Cooperative Limited, located in the community of Cerro Blanco, Siguatepeque. Each of them has a coverage of 5 more communities than its specific location.
This is truly a special cooperative. We are proud to offer the coffee from the people of Siguatepeque through COHORSIL, our partners are friends.