Aaron MacDougall, roaster and owner of Broadsheet Coffee Roasters, won our Roast and GO roasting competition in December — and consequently an all-expenses-paid trip to origin. Specifically, Honduras, home of Guama Danta, his competition-winning coffee. Aaron agreed to write about his experience at origin, and below is his first installment in a series.
Feb. 5, 2017
I’m in the air right now, somewhere past Havana, so have absolutely nothing yet to post about Honduras, the farms and the amazing people I’m traveling with and meeting. But I thought I’d kick things off anyway with a few words on logistics and pre-trip thoughts. I promise this’ll be the last post where I’m anywhere close to the center of it.
Logistically, everything has been very smooth so far. GO has been great about booking and organizing everything. But as this is my first trip to origin, I have no idea whether I’m equally prepared and organized. I tried to pack light – I have it all in a big carry-on backpack. And it is primarily filled with gifts (roasted coffee, maple syrup treats from a farm not far from my home, and paper origami cranes that my son folded up yesterday to give to the children of our farm hosts). Of course, the good folks in the TSA had to pull out and swab check all 12 bags of coffee – despite my copy of Coffee Spanish for Coffee Buyers strategically placed on top of it all.
I’m flying in to San Pedro Sula, which, as my Dad took pains to inform me, has a reputation for being very rough…which is probably the case in the city in the dead of night… To assuage his worries, I signed up for the U.S. State Department STEM program, and assured him that GO is handling all transportation and that we’ll be staying out of the cities and will be in growing regions for almost the entirety of the trip.
The group looks to be really really great and I’m experiencing that wonderful “small world” aspect of Specialty Coffee: There are many familiar names on the introduce-yourself email that circulated amongst us. I met Brice Sturmer of Honest Coffee at the Knoxville competition last month (he was competing in the Brewer’s Cup with a great Sumatran coffee); both Teresa von Fuchs (GO) and Bailey Arnold (Gregory’s Coffee) were on a panel discussion at the Coffee Woman forum at the MANE Coffee Conference in Providence last November (they were so amazing!) And I’ve probably been in the same room as the other travelers — Elisabel Castillo of GO, Maciej Kasperowicz and Greggory Roberson of Gregory’s and Carlos Umanzor of Molinos de Honduras — at some point during the past couple of years.
Anyway, my overwhelming emotion as I prepare to disembark is that of gratitude. More than excitement, for sure. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity to visit Honduras, the farms and processing stations and to meet amazing people and get a glimpse of life at origin. Grateful for all of the support and encouragement I’ve received in my short coffee journey to date. And so grateful for the non-judgmental acceptance of this remarkable community of coffee people. And with that — as today is my son’s 8th birthday! — the words of Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
—Aaron MacDougall, Broadsheet Coffee Roasters