Relieving the Honduran grind

For HR Coffee Company, the award is in the bag, but more work awaits Peggy Hudon

HONDURAN Rony Gamez, on a recent visit to Hood River, models a messenger bag (lining shown) made by Hood River Coffee Co. With him is Peggy Hudon, who said Gamez works within the same Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) as Carlos Piñeda, who originally introduced her to the women of Las Mujeres in 2010.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
HONDURAN Rony Gamez, on a recent visit to Hood River, models a messenger bag (lining shown) made by Hood River Coffee Co. With him is Peggy Hudon, who said Gamez works within the same Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) as Carlos Piñeda, who originally introduced her to the women of Las Mujeres in 2010.

Peggy Thompson Hudon of Hood River is pounding a trail between Central America and Hood River.

Helping the women of La Cañada, Honduras, avoid the arduous pounding and grinding of beans by hand is one of Hudon’s goals in her association with Las Mujeres Cooperativa, a 12-women roasting operation there.

Hudon, co-owner of Hood River Coffee Co. with her husband, Mark, will make her fourth trip to Honduras later this year in what has become a confirmed international partnership with the people who grow and roast coffee at its source.

She will return to La Cañada later this year and for the trip Hudon has some ready-made carry-on luggage.

The Hudons repurpose burlap coffee sacks into messenger bags, which are sold to benefit Las Mujeres.

The bags won the Hudsons the People’s Choice Award April 22 at the 2012 Specialty Coffee Association Convention in Portland.

They were recognized for their efforts on behalf of the cooperative.

“Last summer we came upon the idea of making these repurposed burlap messenger bags and giving the profits to the cooperative,” she said.

“We are thrilled to have won this award to help create an awareness.”

Peggy first met the women of Las Mujeres in November 2010 and learned of their efforts to augment their livelihoods by roasting their own coffee on an open fire using a very large wok-shaped pan.

She said, “I filmed their roasting methods, as well as the milling of their coffee using a mortar and pestle. I left La Cañada, feeling connected with these women, yet unsure how to help them.”

Hudon will be going back to the cooperative for a week this December.

“I will be with a member of the coffee industry in Honduras to teach them cupping methods so they can access, and if necessary, learn ways in which they can improve the method of their coffee,” Hudon said.

Cupping is the technique of sampling coffee to observe and determine the flavor, feel and aroma of brewed liquid.

“Beyond that, we also hope to help them with the purchase of a hulling machine,” Hudon said.

“The mortar and pestle method that they currently use makes for back-breaking work. They would definitely be better served to put their energy in other directions. The hulling machine will help them do just that.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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