Cupping Notes: Sweet Lemon notes, combined with Dark Chocolate notes, with a touch of pepper and spice
In 1984, I began working in the remote eastern part of Honduras with Miskito Indian refugees from Nicaragua. One of my first friends there was a pilot named Jack Dyer, who was serving as the project engineer for World Relief, building refugee villages along the Patuca River and near Mocoron. Jack was a very successful engineer from Baton Rouge Louisiana who had sold his business and moved to Honduras to serve as a missionary pilot.
Jack recognized our need for an airplane and one day in early 1987 took me to the Honduran Aeronautica office in Tegucigalpa where I took a flight physical, showed them my U.S commercial license, and received my Honduran pilot license. A few months later he gave us his original airplane, a bright yellow 1953 Piper Pacer, to use in our project with the refugees along the Rio Coco. Everything changed as a result. Before the “Flying Banana”, the nearest cold drink to our home in Auka was an 8 hour walk. Once we got the airplane, it was a 15 minute flight!
Jack taught me the intricacies of being a successful and safe bush pilot. The challenges I faced as a Navy pilot landing on aircraft carriers were exceeded by the skills required to land on very narrow, short (and often muddy) airstrips in foul weather with cows, pigs, and horses around! One of Jack's “favorite” airstrips was at Musawas, where you have to fly low over the Patuca River below the tree line, follow a bend of the river and then make a hard right bank to line up with the short airstrip, which began at the riverbank, and quickly touchdown, hitting the brakes. Jack was a master at getting his fully loaded Maule M5 and later Cessna 185 in and out of these challenging airstrips.
Jack bought property in the mountains along the Congrejal River behind La Ceiba, where he developed a very profitable milk business to fund his ministry. His cows often won the annual milking competitions held by the Leyde Dairy. In these years, Jack and his wife Shirley were our next door neighbors in La Ceiba, and we shared many adventures together. When Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998, the week-long torrential rains washed out his farm and pasture lands, and ended his dairy business.
A few years later, Jack was invited to the Himalaya Mountains of northern India to repair and rebuild buildings at the Woodstock School- one of the most famous private schools in India. He worked there several years, as well helping at a missionary hospital nearby. It was during this time that Jack was invited by the Dalai Lama to teach the Bible to Buddhist monks. Jack told me that the Dalai Lama would stop by the classroom and tell the monks “Listen to this man. He is telling you the truth.”
Jack loved Honduran coffee. He would always take at least 10 lbs with him every time he returned to the U.S. On one trip, I flew with Jack in his Maule from La Ceiba, through Mexico, to Brownsville Texas. The immigration agents were very upset that we had not complied with new regulations requiring all flights to give prior notice of arrival to the U.S. They threatened us with a $300 fine and demanded to inspect our airplane. The customs inspector brought out his dog to sniff out any drugs, and it alerted on a small box. The inspector opened the box to discover 10 brown paper wrapped packages. As they tore one open, out fell a small cellophane baggie, with black powder. Almost gleefully the inspector reach for his flashlight, sensing a bust. When he saw the words “El Indio Café – 100% Puro” on the baggie, the smile disappeared. It was Jack’s stash of Honduran coffee.
When Jack first arrived in Honduras, he was taken to some remote villages in the mountains behind La Ceiba to meet the pastors of the churches there. Very naturally the pastor would prepare coffee and serve it to Jack. In Honduras, because of the humidity, table salt is kept in an open bowl that does resemble a sugar bowl. It did to Jack and at the first pastor’s home, he took his spoon and put two spoonfuls of salt in his coffee. A hush went around the room! Jack drank the coffee. At the next pastor’s home, Jack did the same thing. Soon the word was out that “Don Jack likes salt in his coffee!” After that each pastor was sure to have a salt bowl on the table when Jack arrived. It was a week later that a fellow American was in the home when Jack did his usual two spoonfuls of salt in his coffee. He went over and whispered in Jack’s ear “Jack, that is the salt bowl. Here we sprinkle salt on our food with our fingers because a salt shaker doesn’t work in this humid climate.”
When Jack told me this story I asked him, “Jack, what did that coffee taste like?” In his Louisiana deep accent he said, “Brother, that was some of the worst coffee that I ever tasted. After a few days of that I began to doubt that I was called to serve in Honduras, because of the terrible coffee.”
Our Papa Jack blend is Honduras Blue Mountain Light mixed with the Honduras Blue Mountain Dark. The result is a coffee that is, like our friend Jack, it is an exceptionally flavorful blend.
Photo: This is a photo I took when Jack and I were flying his Maule from Honduras to Brownsville Texas.
Additional photos: Jack was an exceptional bush pilot, and this is one of the airstrips he used in front of the clinic at Rus Rus. The aircraft is Jack's Cessna 185, which he used as an air ambulance, and cargo and passenger hauler. When this photo was taken, Jack had given the Cessna to Jarle Hofstrad, who took over the missionary flying for Jack when he went to India to rebuild a hospital and work with the Dali Lama teaching the Bible to Buddhist monks.