With a Kick


     Mayra Orellana-Powell, 37, grew up cultivating coffee in her small mountain village of Santa Elena in Honduras. She first came to the United States as a student and studied small business, returned to Honduras, where she met and married her husband, Lowell Powell, and then they both came back to the United States. When a tragedy left her niece and nephews orphaned, Orellana-Powell took them in. When she returned to the United States after the many trips back and forth to Honduras, she always had her family’s coffee in her suitcase. Somewhere along the many miles, an idea was born: Why not import this hand-picked, small-farm coffee to the Bay Area? Why not bring the taste of Honduras — single origin, shade-grown, hand-picked — to the American breakfast table and coffee house?
     “I know every single farmer,” says Orellana-Powell, who lives in Alameda. Although the business is still on a small scale, it means a lot to the coffee farmers of Santa Elena. These neighbors formerly took their beans to a large processing plant, to be mixed communally and sold in mega-batches to corporations; now they have pride of place and their own names stamped on a burlap sack. Each family’s bean crop has a slightly different flavor profile, a terroir of sorts, that gives Santa Elena coffee its well-deserved distinction, says Orellana-Powell. She dubbed her venture Catracha Coffee Company — catracha is slang for a Honduran woman — and does the roasting in Oakland.
     Want to taste this rich, robust brew? Orellana-Powell makes it available by the bag or the cup throughout the East Bay in diverse locales as well as Whole Foods.

To learn more about Catracha Coffee, visit

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