Upcoming Trip to Nicaragua April 22nd to 30th 2015
Normally, when we venture out to a Country to “Chase the Bean”, we visit with many different farmers in different growing regions throughout the Country. This usually leads to many hours spent in pick-up trucks on what passes for dirt roads in the remote areas where coffee is grown. The plan for us this year in Nicaragua was different. We went to visit one farm (Finca Los Congos) and to spend as much time as possible cementing our relationship with the Paguaga family who owns the farm.
After getting off the plane in Managua, we immediately headed to the small town of Ocotal in the coffee growing region of Nueva Segovia. Ocotal is home to a beautiful Century old church, a lovely town square...and the Paguaga family. The town also happened to be hosting the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition during the week we were in town. Can you say, NICE! A few things about the Los Congos farm and the Paguaga family...
1. Don Rene, the patriarch of the family and the founder of this coffee dynasty is fast approaching 90 years old and is sharp as a tack. Mr. Rene shows up for work to the coffee mill every day and still actively participates in helping the family manage each year’s harvest. This is the same guy who cleared the mountaintop where the wet mill resides on the farm of huge granite boulders. With a pick axe. By himself, only 30 years ago. We think you get the picture!
2. High elevation typically is considered essential in helping to produce Specialty Coffee - the higher the better. Finca Los Congos is the highest elevation farm in Segovia. Need we say more?
3. The most prestigious coffee competition in Nicaragua is the Cup of Excellence. Finca Los Congos has finished as high as 2nd place. Yes indeed, that would mean that a team of National and International judges voted it as the 2nd best coffee farm in the whole Country that year. A fun, but little known fact: In order to enter your coffee in the competition, you have to submit your samples to the committee by mid Feb. Because it’s located at such high elevation, Finca Los Congos is barely starting to harvest their coffee at this point. Meaning that they routinely submit their first pickings (lesser quality) to the competition. Yes...that’s right. They finish that high with what is essentially their “B” team.
4. Remember when we said that the Cup of Excellence was going down when we were there this year? Well... it did, and Los Congos and its sister farm Las Brumas finished 5th and 6th. So why were we there in April? Because the harvest was just ending and the “A” team lots were ready to be tasted and bought. Well, we tasted, and we bought. You too will be able to do the same in late June!