Trip to Nicaragua – Ocotal
Welcome back! I know I mentioned that we will be going through the sensory module in the upcoming blog but Kasia, our Head of Coffee at Artisan, happened to go on a coffee trip to Nicaragua and wrote a story about her amazing experience on the farm. Enjoy…
Trip to Nicaragua – Ocotal
Paciencia por favor! (Patience please!)
Would you like to read a story about Nicaragua, their culture and amazing coffee producers? I had the huge privilege of spending 7 days with coffee producers Claudia and Tim in Ocotal, Nicaragua. If you have never been there you must remember that paciencia is a key word. If you are a coffee producer, coffee plants dictate your life schedule.
I came to Nicaragua after the harvest season, which is a time when you start to prepare for the next season. It’s time to finish processing coffee beans, export, cup, plant new trees, fertilize old trees and make some small adjustments on the farm. It also the time for coffee producers to compile and finalise their business plans for the next season. If you like to talk, Nicaragua is the best place to go. If you like drinking coffee, come here only after the harvest season for cupping. Nicaragua exports the best quality coffee out of the country and the low-quality coffee stays here. Nicaraguans love drinking their coffee extremely hot and full of sugar.
The most popular varieties in Nicaragua are Caturra, Marracaturra and Bourbon and I had the pleasure of Claudia showing me the differences between these three. Marracaturra is easy to spot thanks to its bigger coffee cherries compared to that of the Bourbon and Caturra. Bourbon’s tree is taller, slimmer and has longer leaves, whereas Caturra’s tree is shorter and wider.
There are three popular (‘traditional’) ways of processing coffee beans on this farm: natural, washed and honey processed. They experiment with the frozen process as well; with this process, they are hoping to have better control over the fermentation process and save water. After processing, the green coffee gets sent to the dry mill, here they are left to dry on the ground or on African beds. After depulping, sorting, grading and packing it’s time for roasting and cupping the samples. Personally I think this is the best part, where you do 3 to 4 blind cuppings per day (samples are coded) with premium, speciality and commodity coffee beans.
In the meantime, farmers begin preparing the coffee farm for its next season. On one side of the farm you plant new coffee trees and on the other side your trees start to blossom. On another part of the farm in the sand under banana leaves you can find coffee beans with small roots and then the whole process starts again. Nothing gets wasted on the farm; a fantastic example is dried coffee flowers, which are then turned into a tea. It tastes like camomile but sweeter, more delicate and less herby.
Claudia and Tim have been coffee producers since November 2016 and both have years of experience in the coffee industry. Claudia has her own coffee school and for a few years now, she has run a project that helps green bean buyers understand how coffee farms run. She also supports the women in the community of Ocotal. As you see having a coffee farm in Nicaragua (as in the rest of Latin America) is not only about producing the best quality coffee beans but also about supporting your origin.
I hope you guys have found Kasia’s experiences as intriguing as I did and learnt a bit more about how coffee farms work and how coffee is produced. A big THANK YOU to Kasia for sharing her amazing experiences and teaching us a thing or two.
Until next time, keep drinking the good stuff!