Nicaragua is a beautiful country sandwiched between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It has amazing coast lines, ancient volcanoes, rain forests, and thick pine forests. It is also notorious for good cigars and even better coffee! Badger Bros Coffee sent a team to explore and find some of this incredible coffee.
We started the trip by meeting with the owners of Platteville's own Los Amigos, Carlos and Carolina. They took us on a tour of the Masaya Volcano, a volcanic lagoon, and the colonial towns of Masaya and Grenada. It was a great way to be introduced to Nicaragua!
We proceeded to Esteli. Esteli is a quaint city known mostly for its cigar production. There is something like 50 factories in the city alone! This is also the home of PRODECOOP, the largest organic certified coop in the country.
A fun side story: we stopped into a little bar/restaurant one of our nights there and there was a group of local guys singing and playing guitars and ukuleles. They invited us to their table and we had a blast passing the guitars around and singing everything from traditional latin songs to La Bamba to The Lumineers. Turns out they LOVE The Beatles!
We finished out the trip in a town near the Honduras border called Ocotal. Ocotal has a population of around 40,000 and is largely an agricultural community. The mountains surrounding the town are lush with pine trees. It is really a beautiful area. We met with Sr. Luis Balladerez of Beneficio de Cafe Las Segovias. He took us up way up into the mountains to visit one of his farms. A short drive and we arrived at the washing station. This is where the coffee beans are removed from the fruit.
Departing from the washing station, we drove up the mountain to the farm. It was an off road adventure! We crossed streams, navigated rocks, trees and ditches for 45 minutes before we reached the coffee trees. Sr. Balladerez took us on a hike up through the trees. It was beautiful! We were happy to see that his trees were largely quite healthy with a lot of berries developing.
After our hike we returned to the city to see his benficio. This is where the coffee is dried, milled, and prepared for export. We were definitely impressed with not only the quality of the coffee, but with Sr. Balladarez himself. He has been actively working and experimenting with ways to increase the quality of the coffee. He is also a pastor in the city and does a lot to help people. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him!
Be watching for new Nicaraguan coffees to come around April!