Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes within Central America, Nicaragua is a pocket for high quality coffee thanks to its rich soils and various microclimates. Coffee arrived in the 1800s with Spanish colonialists, first planted on the mesas of the Pacific plains. Today, coffee has spread to three main production areas: Las Segovias, Matagalpa, and Jinotega; characterized by fertile, volcanic soils and lush vegetation. In the 20th century, due to political unrest and civil war, coffee farms were abandoned. And with Hurricane Mitch in 1998, much of the coffee infrastructure was destroyed, leaving a vulnerable coffee industry. Nicaragua is considered to be the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, so the restoration of coffee was important for the economy and small producers. Cooperatives helped rebuild the coffee industry, providing producers with access to markets, stable incomes, and resources to efficiently produce coffee. CAFENICA (The Nicaraguan Association of Smallholder Coffee Cooperatives) was created to earn land back for producers and educate them about post-harvest processing methods.
Today, coffee production supports the livelihoods of nearly 45,000 families in Nicaragua, representing 8% of the country’s exports. Most of these producers are smallholders, growing coffee on small plots of land whilst also growing other cash crops such as corn and beans. A significant portion of coffee production, nearly 95%, is grown under a shade of native and exotic tree species. This means that Nicaraguan coffee grows in harmony with the surrounding ecosystems and helps promote biodiversity and soil health. This is vital considering the country is heavily deforested – the 108,000 hectares of coffee farms helps preserve the intact forests and stores carbon in the soil.
This coffee comes from the Saxony Estate Coffee organization, and their farm named Finca Los Pocitos. The farm is situated at 950 meters above sea level in the Jinotega region surrounded by native forests and wildlife preserves. The coffee grows with cocoa and other shady trees such as fruit and timber trees, to create an agroforestry system. This helps the coffee obtain nutrients naturally and promotes biodiversity of the area.
This farm teems with wildlife as 17% of it is preserved and part of the Peñas Blancas Nature Reserve. The farm is working to improve drinking water and living conditions for the surrounding Abisinia community.
During the harvest, the cherries are carefully handpicked when fully ripe and submerged in water to remove floating, or lower quality coffee. The cherries are then pulped, the exterior fruit being removed, and sent to the fermentation stage. Here, the coffee soaks for 17 hours to initiate the breakdown of the remaining sticky mucilage. The coffee is then washed in a channel of water to clean off any remaining mucilage or foreign matter. Once cleaned, the coffee is dried until the ideal moisture content is reached.
Finca Los Pocitos cares for the environment and the surrounding community – constantly working to improve both whilst producing excellent quality coffee. The water used for processing is carefully filtered and placed in an oxidation lagoon before being reintroduced into the local water systems.