Jeff’s trip to Nicaragua!

Coffee trip to Nicaragua - February 2011

This year's venture to Nicaragua began last week with our good friend and owner of Metto Coffee & Tea Company, located in Charleston South Carolina. We met in Houston then headed to Managua, Nicaragua. The morning after our arrival we meet with Erwin Mierisch, our astute farm guide, and were off to the Benificio and then to the farms. For the past several year Erwin has been an integral part of the Cup of Excellence program throughout Central America and his family has been in coffee in Nicaragua since the 1930's.

The farms we visit this trip were located northeast of Managua towards the city of Jinotega. These farms range from 4000 to 6000 feet and were surrounded by beauty. The first farm we visited was San Jose. This farm gets much of the electricity from lake Jinotega, the view was simply mesmerizing.

This farm is full of several great coffees including a great cupping Red Pacamara, Caturra and Catuai varietals, as well as a super sweet coffee they call Java Nica. Unfortunately, these coffees are relatively new to the farm and there is not much to go around with their current production levels, (I am sure you will see them in this year's cup Of Excellence competitions for Nicaragua) so hopefully this will be available in next year's production. We will keep you posted on availability.

As we were bouncing from farm to farm and wet mills we visited La Escondida a farm where they are developing several new strains of coffee. This farm is only a few miles from the farm San Jose, is fairly new and will begin producing coffees next year.

From there we were off to the natural reserve El Diablo were the farm Las Milagros was hidden in the nationally preserve forest. This farm is nestled in a national park where both beautiful scenery as well as beautiful coffees are. But for now our coffees will be coming from the farm Los Placeres, a Rain Forest Alliance farm that is found on the mountains ridges of the Matagalpa region. These coffees cupped in the upper 80's on our scoring sheet back at the dry mill and Benificio and we are happy to tell you will arrive to Zoka this summer.

At this farm we also saw excellent practices of sustainability, health care facilities for the farmers, schools for their children and housing and food for all the families that lived permanently on the farms.

The farm El Llimocillo we visited at the end of the day. It was under a blanket of shade grown trees and plants so you could not even tell it was a coffee farm from a distance. They grew both yellow and red Pacamara coffees. This wonderful coffee farm has some incredible coffees, in a tropical haven back drop. Next year's crops hopefully will have enough coffees for us to acquire some as well.... And yes this too is Rain forest alliance certified as could only be expected.. .See the photos of the natural falls the farm, not one but two falls!!

This is truly an amazingly beautiful coffee farm... Our first day was a hard driving and long one but what a great experience to see such beautiful coffee farms.

On The second day, we spent our time at the cupping table above the dry mill cupping samples from many farms and several Co-Op Organic farms as well.

Sarah Parish (Owner of Metto Coffee & Tea) who's allergies had kicked up was a little handicapped but was still able to pick up on some of the great flavors coming out of these coffees. This was her first coffee trip and now she can go home and really tell the story.

With our cuppings we were very impressed by this year's coffees and think you will be very impressed and happy with our choices for this year. Coffees will start to arrive in about a month including our Co-op Organic coffees and the Estate Los Placeres will be arriving this summer. With coffee prices still on the upward swing we think we have secured coffees that you will love and at the best price possible.

Jeff Babcock
Zoka Coffee Roasters & Tea Company