Improving coffee producers' lives one bag at a time is the mission of Luna Maki, a locally operated coffee business whose founder intentionally partners with farmers in Honduras to get beans through direct trade.
"It's about creating clean coffee and helping others," says Brentwood resident and Luna Maki enterprise leader Vince McDonnell. "The climate in Honduras is perfect for coffee cultivation, with plenty of sun and rain. The people there have a long tradition of coffee production, and they take great pride in their work."
Positioned in the heart of Central America, Honduras' location and terroir indeed are considered to be ideal for growing coffee. In fact, Honduras is typically counted among the world's fifth biggest producers of coffee by volume.
The Luna Maki business actually resulted from an unplanned meeting at a wedding at which Vince met Klaus Hoppert Orellana from Honduras. After they struck up a conversation and had so many interests in common, they decided to try to work together.
"The profit from your cup of coffee goes straight back to the farmers and the community. With higher standards comes higher pay," explains Vince. "Our system is based on respect and dignity. We educate our farmers and workers on what it takes to make a great coffee and pay them higher to meet our standards."
Vince says they go to the places in Honduras that most others avoid. "Many of our farmers are in locations that are hours away via treacherous or washed out roads, and they have very few options for selling their coffee. So we go to them, helping solve logistical problems within the community, along with building centralized processing facilities that allow us to have unmatched accessibility and quality control."
By executing a naturally processed coffee that's air-dried in the cherry for 60 days on solar mesh beds, rather than the common washed method, Vince says their coffee has a distinctly bright taste.
Lenca and other local women hand-sort the beans for quality, and state their coffee doesn't have pesticides, acid or molds. They roast it fresh weekly, and get paid a higher wage than they could get locally.
Luna Maki coffee can be secured online or locally at special events and markets such as:
- Wildwood Farmers Market
- Maplewood Farmers Market
- Point Labadie Farmers Market
- Soulard Farmers Market
- The Boulevard Farmers Market
- Taste of STL
- Festival Of Nations
At press time, Vince was expecting a 2,000-pound shipment of beans. "Klaus’s daughter, sister and mother came up to visit his other sister who lives here, and we were running low on coffee so we had them bring up 100 pounds of beans in their luggage," he chuckles.
Vince says they're activating a second phase of their project by buying a U.S. truck and having it shipped to the Honduras farm for the next coffee season. During September, Vince went to Las Botijas to help scope their next moves with Klaus for new processing construction to start yet this fall.
"Luna Maki" means "new opportunity" in the indigenous Lenca language. The Lenca, also known as Lepa Wiran, meaning “Jaguar People” or “People of The Jaguar” are an indigenous people from present-day southwest Honduras and eastern El Salvador in Central America. Many bean producers there are fourth generation coffee farmers, producing coffee at 4,000 feet above sea level.