Nicaragua 2010…week 1
I just got back from two weeks in Nicaragua. Joe (from Third Coast) and I were there to teach two 1-week courses about coffee quality, roasting and cupping.
The first week was spent with a cooperative called PROCOCER. Denis, the head tecnico, met us at the airport, took us around for the whole week. He was a great host. PROCOCER’s offices are in Jicaro, in the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua and they represent about 800 farming families. We were there to visit the dry mill at Mozonte and while there, teach a roasting and cupping class to a group of local youth. These students are studying at the coffee school in Ocotal and most of their parents are producers from PROCOCER.
We showed them what we look for in a coffee sample, taught them how we sample roast and cup. By the end of the course, they were all roasting great samples and running a very professional cupping table.
We visited organic farms in the Murra region. A truck dropped us off, and we had to hike for a half hour just to get to the first farm. No road, no electricity but each farmer we visited was proud of their finca. One of the farmers we met is the head of a women’s producer group. Doña Dominga and her family produce about 800 pounds of coffee a year on very steep slopes in a remote valley. I was only to take one picture because I was ready to pass out from the difficult hike to her house and to see her coffee trees. She invited us to come back and work for a few weeks during the harvest. Maybe if I start training now, I might be able to keep up with her.
At the finca of Reynaldo Rivera we saw the new style wet-mill that the government is helping to fund. It uses less water so the environmental impact is significantly reduced.
Each farmer composts and uses worm bins to help enrich the soil.
Outside of Jalapa, we visited the finca of Ernesto Canales, the president of PROCOCER (whose daughter, Rosibel was in our class) and saw his wet mill and nursery. He is developing an eco-tourism project at his farm where people could come and see best practices in general farming and coffee processing.
A half an hour or so further up another 4-wheel drive road and strenuous hike (where I, again, almost had a heart attack) we arrived at the finca of Mario (the father of Dunia from our class). He has an incredible farm right along the border of Honduras. His plants are extremely healthy and he is very passionate about his finca. He has just built a new wet mill (carrying the cement up the mountain trail by himself) and a couple of cabins for his eco-tourism project.
Two small cabins (bunks for 6 in each), fresh mountain spring water and an amazing jungle valley. They have a small family cabin with a kitchen and made us a great meal. Visitors will be able to stay in the other cabins and participate in the coffee harvest, plant their own coffee trees and eventually harvest their own plants. It is an amazing spot, and if anyone is interested in visiting, e-mail me and I will give you details.
The next morning we “decided” to walk back to Jalapa …every 30 minutes, Denis would me that it was just another 30 minutes hike. Four hours later we made it to town. There we had dinner with Ernesto and Denis and talked of our future plans together.
Coming later, week 2 near Matagalpa.