Nicaragua is a land of lakes, volcanoes, and delicious coffee. More than 40,000 coffee farms, run by families, are spread throughout the country where this tiny bean plays a big role in the Nicaraguan economy. Over 45,334 families are directly supported by coffee cultivation today in Nicaragua, which is important in a country that is currently experiencing about a 50% unemployment rate.
Coffee arrived in the country in the mid 1800’s, where its first coffee cherries were planted on the Pacific’s plain mesa. However, coffee is actually grown in three different regions within Nicaragua’s Central northern mountains. These regions include the Segovias, whose coffee is known for it’s bright acidity and floral aroma, and the Metagalpa and Jinotega regions, which are known for a very distinctly flavored coffee. The volcanic soils, lush greenery, and humid tropical climate all contribute to coffee thriving here.
95% of coffee here is shade grown, which means these farmers cultivate their coffee under the canopy of local trees. The trees, along with the farmers management and practices help maintain a sensitive ecosystem, including water and soil conservation.
When the coffee prices crashed between 1999 and 2003, many farmers were deeply impacted due to lower prices being paid. This crises was made even worse by the droughts experienced in the country between 1999 and 2001. During this time, many farmers had to simultaneously grow mangos, yuccas, and bananas to survive the impact.
The crisis was in effect saved by the Fair Trade co-ops, which led to land being distributed to farming families. At a later point, many of these co-ops used Fair Trade premium pricing to help reinvest in their co-ops and help create social programs for their members. These social programs improved quality control, employed their members, and even cut down on production costs. Several of these co-ops were even able to build their own processing plants.
Good coffee’s in Nicaragua fall into the “classic cup” category, which means they have a good body, very clean flavor, and are very balanced. They tend to have a medium intensity, and a syrupy consistency.
Key Nicaragua Coffee Profile Notes
Varietals: Typica, Bourbon, Maragogype, Caturra, Pacas
Grow Regions: Segovias, Metagalpa and Jinotega
General Cup Profile: “classic cup”