This February, I traveled to Honduras with a non-profit that’s now family to me, the Humanity and Hope United Foundation. On the trip, Ben mentioned this idea he had for a company, “Generous Coffee.” It sounded like a nice idea — but exactly that, just an idea. I wouldn’t have imagined that a couple months later, I’d be a road tripping across a Central American country with Ben and two others on a quest for a grower, a story, and the best cup of coffee.
First of all, who are these guys who mysteriously whisked me away in the middle of wedding season (I’m a photographer/videographer)? Ben Higgins: Board Member of H&H; co-founder of “Generous Coffee”; lives in Denver, Colorado; funny, compassionate, heart of gold. Riley Fuller: President/Founder of H&H; Ben’s best friend; co-founder of “Generous Coffee”; lives in Austin, Texas; intentional, driven, heart of gold. Darwin Suazo: works for H&H; lives in El Progresso Honduras; sweet, spontaneous, heart of gold.
Truly, these guys are gems; I adore them! And they blew my mind when they invited me on this trip to capture it all. My mind was even more blown by what I experienced and the crazy ways God works if you truly surrender your heart to Him and faithfully trust His plan.
We were in the preliminary stages of Generous Coffee, so I had no idea what to expect — and neither did Ben and Riley. I’m a planner and I always have an itinerary. So I knew I was in for a wild ride when, 40 minutes into the trip, Riley looked in the rear-view mirror of our car and asked Darwin, “Hey, we are going the correct way… right?” Darwin, dumbfounded, responded, “Um? I have no idea. Where are we even going?” Ben chimed in, “Do we even have GPS?”
None of us had an international plan on our phones, no GPS, no maps… Jesus, take the wheel.
I was slightly concerned in that moment. But Jesus really did take the wheel for the whole trip! The order of events, the people we met, the things we learned… It was all God, guiding us and completely present with us for the entire journey.
Day one: Doing business on a mountaintop
We met up with coffee grower and producer, Cristian. He led us to the top of a mountain, one of his areas of production, to show us where he dries his coffee beans using the natural air. Cristian informed and educated us, while telling us about his story, his family business, and background in the coffee industry. He was also showing business developer and coffee expert, Habib, of Project Origin in Australia, around his farms. So, we got a ton of insight into the coffee world. Right place, right time.
Day two: Coffee school with Cristian
The next morning, we met with Cristian at his little coffee shop, Cafe Tio Juan, where I enjoyed the most delicious iced coffee I’ve ever had. Cristian named Cafe Tio Juan after his younger brother, who passed away trying to protect their family coffee fields from thieves in the middle of the night.
We visited Cristian’s farms and learned what a coffee plant actually looks like. After listening to Cristian and coffee expert, Habib, Ben said, “I learned more about coffee in one day than I have in my entire life.” We also met Carlos Javier, agronomist for the Hacienda Montecristo Coffee Company, one of the largest coffee producers in Honduras. Later that evening he treated us to a delicious dinner and wine, surrounded by a streaming river and string lights.
Day three: The best cup of coffee — with a story
The next day we drove for nearly three hours up a treacherous, rocky road. Our goal: to meet a small coffee-growing family who Cristian’s larger company outsources to. The views were magnificent. Unable to control my photographer brain, I asked the group to pull over a couple times too many for several photo-ops. Eventually we approached water that was too high for the vehicle to pass, so we hiked the rest of the way to the family farm.
I’ll never forget approaching their home. Four brothers run this family coffee farm, which has been in their family for over 100 years. Each brother has a rather large family of his own. Coffee is their life. The men farm the coffee beans, the children pick them, and the women process them into coffee.
My favorite part of the day: We sat in the eldest brother’s dining area, with gorgeous views from the top of the mountain, and shared a cup of coffee together. His very own coffee. His wife had eagerly prepared and served it to us. And the brother repeatedly told us that he couldn’t believe we were interested in their coffee and interested in their story. I’ll never forget the tear I saw in his eye as he smiled at Ben and Riley, thanking them over and over again.
In that moment, the quest for the best cup of coffee was accomplished. This family has a story. And it needs to be shared.
Leaving the mountain that afternoon, my heart exploded with love for this family and the endless labor and sacrifices they make for their family coffee business. Hacienda Montecristo has helped this family by giving them more demand for their supply, by outsourcing to them.
This is how perfectly God’s plans work… None of this would have happened if Riley hadn’t met Ramon, family heir of Hacienda Montecristo, on a flight to Honduras a few months prior. Talk about a perfect place, perfect timing.
Although Ramon was out of the country at the time, he graciously invited us to his family property in Copan, where his employees and wait staff completely treated us to another fine meal. We toured his plantation and learned about their growing process, how many families work on the plantation, and the history behind it. We experienced the task of “cupping” coffee with two sweet women who are in charge of the process.
After our three-day adventure, we drove back to the San Pedro Sula area in a pitch black, dangerously heavy rainstorm. Thank you, Riley, for keeping us alive on that scary drive. We also reminisced about the people we met and talked about the future. Personally, I believe Generous Coffee is going to change the world.
Ben and Riley brought me along to create a short, promo-type documentary (coming soon) for the new company. But I ended up documenting every moment so I could remember this trip forever. Like I mentioned, God works in such crazy ways. The order of events, the people we met, the experiences we shared… It deepened my faith and touched my heart.
Riley and Ben, thank you so much for including me on this wildly awesome adventure. I’m so proud of you and blessed to call you guys friends.
Stay tuned for the Generous Coffee launch in a few months!
What travel experience has changed your heart forever?
Written and photographed by Rachel Peterson of RP Imagery