Nicaragua Finca La Argentina
Nicaragua’s premier coffee region is the Nueva Segovia, notably around Cordillera de Dipilto to Jalapa, the mountainous region that runs along the Honduran border and is renowned for producing Cup of Excellence winning lots. The high altitude, excellent climatic conditions and close proximity to the mills all contribute to the exceptional quality of the coffee.
Roger Peralta and his family have owned the beautiful 80 hectare Finca La Argentina since 1920. It is located a steep 30-minute drive from the local mill town of Ocotal (Nueva Segovia’s capital), deep in the stunning mountain forest where many varieties of indigenous tree and types of flora and fauna flourish, providing ample shade for the Caturra, Catuai and Javanica that grows there.
Finca La Argentina is managed by Juan Carlos together with 40 permanent employees and 150 pickers during the harvest.
The Micro Lot Project
Speciality grower and roaster of ‘Peralta Coffees’, Julio Peralta envisioned a sustainable future for Nicaraguan coffee through the export and promotion of individual micro lots. He encouraged his family and fellow farmers to explore new ways of growing coffee and passionately believes his country possesses the complex conditions and technical facilities needed to create extraordinary flavours in the cup.
As a result of this dedicated approach, there are now several of his family farms working to produce distinct characteristics by marketing individual lots as opposed to mass producing for export. In recent years several of the farms involved in this practice have been award winning at Cup of Excellence competitions. Through micro lot production, Julio uses the resultant information to make decisions on which varieties and processes work best for each farm. Last year’s results were truly outstanding and, with the on-going threat of ‘roya’ and a volatile world market, this venture could contribute towards safeguarding coffee farmers in Nicaragua for the long-term.
To decide which areas are to be harvested as micro lots, a brix refractometer measures the sugar content of the cherries across different expanses in each farm - ideally around 22%. Ripe cherries are then picked according to the process they will undergo (natural, red honey, yellow honey etc.) and water siphons are employed to select the best quality cherries and separate defect fruits. If the lot is to be a red honey, cherries are crushed with mucilage intact; if yellow honey, the cherries are pulped to remove the skin and some mucilage before being dried; for natural processed lots, fully-ripe cherries are hand-picked and left to dry with both pulp and mucilage intact for a longer period of time. For each micro lot the entire drying process takes place in the newly built parabolic dryer at the San Ignacio mill in the municipality of Mozonte, Nueva Segovia.