For some time I have wanted to write an update about my coffee career and share with everyone where they can buy some good Honduran coffee. These last nine months have been exhausting but exciting. Nearly four years ago, I decided to leave my part-time teaching job in Honduras to pursue a career in selling green coffee.
In hindsight it was a surprising decision considering I hated coffee when I moved to Honduras and I had absolutely no sales experience but I truly felt God was leading me to this. My vision was and still is to connect Honduran coffee producers to buyers willing to pay fair prices.
As I dove into my coffee career, I became passionate about the industry. Not only did I learn all about the intricacies of tasting coffee but what most excited me is the massive opportunity that exists in the coffee industry to help impoverished families through ethical business practices. Coffee is unique in that 80% of coffee is produced by smallholders and 21 of the 30 poorest countries in the world have coffee as a primary export.
Coffee producers in Honduras typically pick cherries, mechanically mill the fruit off of the beans, then ferment and wash the beans. They then sell the beans to an intermediary who dries the coffee and then sells to an exporter who does the final processing and then sells to an importer who sells to a roaster. This process often leads producers to earn a very small amount (only about three to four cents of an average cappuccino goes back to the producers).
To add to all of this, the commodity price for coffee has dramatically decreased over the last year. The price for coffee dipped down to $0.94/lb. This commodity price must be about $1.30/lb for an average producer to break even. Feel free to read a bit more about what is being called the Coffee Price Crisis - https://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-price-of-coffee-20190204-story.html
I truly believe that a part of the transformation of each Christian is a resulting heart for the needy and oppressed. Jesus’ proclamation of his coming ministry in Luke 4:17-20 makes this clear. I very much feel God has lead me to serve those in need through this coffee career.
Where Am I Now?
My path in coffee has been filled with a lot of hurdles. In 2016, I started out with a big letdown and wasn’t able to export any coffee. In 2017, I partnered with a small importer to sell 68 bags of 150 lbs. In 2018, I decided to form my own social enterprise – Honduran Coffee Alliance – and sold 76 bags.
Honduran Coffee Alliance’s role is to work with producers to evaluate their coffee, find potential buyers, send samples, and organize the export/import for these coffees. This past year I formed an exciting partnership with a Canadian NGO – SOCODEVI. We were able to send 200 bags to the US and Canada and another 14 bags to Taiwan and increased these farmer’s income by 210%.
For those of you interested in buying great coffee, here are the 8 roasters in the US we sold to:
Wow! The last few months have just been... wow! I apologize for dropping the ball on our updates, but we really haven't had a lot of time to sit down and write. Since our last update, we visited our beloved churches in Texas and Iowa, grew the program by 68 children, hosted three mission trips, and managed to eat and shower almost everyday. With a chance now to sit down and breathe, I can reflect on this season a bit, and as I do, I am truly in awe. God has been so clearly present in the last few months. Yes, it gets a little busy, but when you are seeing God work in ways that you could have never imagined, its easy to get up in the morning and get to work.
HOSANNA: We seriously love mission trips! This year we had the privilege to help with three trips that came down to be a blessing to the city of Danlí. The first was a group from Hosanna Fellowship in Tennessee joined by pastors from New York and Mexico. Sean and I helped coordinate the translation for this trip as the group of pastors traveled to literally even section of the city to preach the Gospel and provide trainings in marriage, parenting, finances, and leadership. We have worked with this group since we moved here in 2013 and have always been amazed at their gift to speak truth into the Honduran hearts.
LIGHTHOUSE: Next up was Lighthouse Community Church from Des Moines, Iowa. This group of 12 did the work of 60 the week they were here. 27 beds were made and delivered to our newest students in Llamado Eterno. Since this church has begun coming to Honduras four years ago, they have made over 100 beds and every single one of our children at school has a bed to sleep on! Beyond this, the team visited three public schools with gifts and encouragement for the teachers, held several high energy children's events, and spent valuable time with their sponsored children.
HILLSIDE: The most anticipated trip is always from our home church, Hillside Community of Fort Worth, Texas. This year we had a small group of only 42 people... haha jk. The Gringo invasion flooded the city of Danlí with positive energy, infectious joy, and the unconditional love of Christ. We put them to work (as we love to do!) in several construction projects for the church and the Estancia school for needy, children and youth events in four impoverished communities, and door to door evangelism. They passed out 150 food bags, made a basketball court, repaired desks, poured the foundation for the addition at the church, and shared the gospel with hundreds and hundreds of children.
As I said, we love mission trips! These weeks seem to fly by, but they leave an eternal impact behind them. We are incredibly grateful for every person who came down and look forward to many, many more trips.
Two years ago, EEI began a relationship with Double Hope School and Orphanage in Uganda. Our partner church, Lighthouse, has had a heart to help this beautiful ministry for some time and turned to us for help in starting a child sponsorship program there. After visiting Uganda, building a relationship with Pastor Julius who runs the school, orphanage and church, and working on processes for child applications, profiles, and financial reporting, we have officially begun with THREE SPONSORED CHILDREN IN UGANDA! As I put together the profiles of the three beautiful children, I was overwhelmed with a sense of, once again, wow... God's plans for us are truly more than we ever could have imagined or hoped for!
You can imagine that all these trips leave little time to dedicate to anything else, but our normal lives, responsibilities, and ministries aren't put on hold during mission trip season.Thankfully, God has brought many new, hard-working leaders to the school and church that have been instrumental in keeping everything up and running. The school, the scholarships, the youth group, and Sunday School ministries continue to grow in number and quality.
Our kids are in the middle of their third quarter of school and the school year will be finishing before we know it. Our youth group has been focusing on building up small groups in the communities around the city and now has five strong groups meeting every other Sunday. Sunday School has grown to over 200 children who are fed by both the word of God and a group of women who prepare a yummy lunch for all the kids.
Our little family is doing well. Lucia is potty-trained (seriously a miracle of God)! She is growing fast and speaking fluent "Spanglish." She was a more active part of these trips and it filled our hearts as parents to see our little one working as a mini-missionary.
Many of you have requested that we be a little more specific in our prayer requests and we deeply appreciate your willingness to intercede on our behalf. We need it!
"For I am about to do something new.
Sean and Whitney Warner have been missionaries for Empowering Education International in Danlí, Honduras since 2013. They have one daughter, Lucia, who was born in Honduras in 2017.