This year we visited Nicaragua for the first time, after taking a small , delicious lot from Jinotega region last year. We wanted to explore Nicaragua when we learnt how Caravela are working there. They purchase coffee from producers once it has been harvested and processed, and then undertake the task of drying the coffee properly at their own facilities. We visited Ocotal with William Ortiz, their country manager, and toured their drying facilities at La Estrella, which are impeccable.
We cupped several lots from Nueva Segovia and the Jalapa region, and the tastiest coffees all turned out to be from extended fermentation trials being done with Caturra, Java and Tekisic selections from the Cerro de Jesus farm. The owner, Bing Kirk, and his farm manager, Laura Maria Lintner Riviera, were visiting the lab, and asked if we’d like to visit the farm. The following day we drove with Pastor, the head of PECA (Caravela’s agricultural training and support program) in Nicaragua, for several hours to their farm right on the border with Honduras. Jalapa is an area known for growing corn, beans, tobacco and more recently gaining a reputation as a quality coffee producing region.
Laura was a fantastic host and showed us the different plots on the farm, where they are growing Caturra, Catuaí, Catimor, Java, Tekisic, Maracaturra, Pacamara, Marsalessa and we’re sure a few others that we’ve since forgotten. Most of the coffee is grown from 1,300-1,500m, amongst bananas and pine trees, and takes up around 180 of the 400 manzanas that make up the farm. The remaining majority of the space is a wildlife reserve, and something they pay particular attention to is preserving the myriad natural springs on the estate.
They have built roads, a school and a church on the estate, and workers are provided with a home cooked lunch. The pickers are paid by the ‘lata’ or bucket, which is slightly smaller than regulation size at Cerro de Jesus, a small bonus for the pickers. The baskets they collect the harvested coffee cherries in are hand-woven from reeds on the estate. As well as paying pickers the estate employs teams of workers to clear weeds from around the coffee trees instead of using herbicides, and to also do work pruning the trees and making trenches around them to collect dry matter that will mulch down and nourish the plants.
This espresso is comprised of Caturra, Catuaí and Tekisic coffee varieties, that have been pulped and fermented in the limited tank space at Cerro de Jesus, before being washed and density graded in channels running with fresh spring water from the mountain. The water is then treated in soak pits and the processed coffee is transported to Caravela’s shaded raised beds to be taken down slowly to an optimal moisture content.
Jalapa, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua
A clean balanced espresso with notes of brown sugar, sultanas and sweet liquorice. In milk expect butterscotch and nougat.