2020 CHRISTMAS DISCOVERY
BRANDY, GINGER, BAKING SPICES
ESPRESSO ROAST / MICROLOT
FARM: FINCA JESUS MOUNTAIN
REGION: JAPAPA, NUEVA SEGOVIA
ALTITUDE: 1450 - 1700 MASL
JESUS MOUNTAIN COFFEE COMPANY
Jesus Mountain Coffee Company is the name of the operation behind Cerro de Jesus, or Jesus Mountain Farm, a large private farm that is about 700 hectares in size, with 300 hectares of coffee, planted with several different varieties including Caturra, Catuai, Catimor, Tekisic, Pacamara, Maracaturra, and Java. The remaining 400 hectares of land are set aside for forest reserve. The "mountain" in the farm's name is literal: The farm rests on the second-highest peak in Nicaragua, 1,836 meters at its summit.
In 2017/18, Jesus Mountain began collaborating with Cafetos de Segovia, a very small specialty mill and export company run by sisters Martha and Ana Albir. The sisters, who inherited their passion for coffee from their father, tend not only to their own farm (Finca Bethania), but also invested in a mill operation in 2015. In 2016 they began providing milling and exporting services not only for their own family farm but also for nearby farms owned by friends and family, including Jesus Mountain Coffee Company.
The H1 F1 hybrid or Centroamericano is a compact plant with large coffee beans. It has very high yielding potential and the cup quality is very good. The plant is a cross between the Sarchimor and the Ethiopian Rume Sudan. Coffees from Cerro de Jesus are picked ripe and depulped/mechanically de-mucilaged the same day. They are fermented dry for 12–36 hours before being washed once and dried on Cafetos de Segovia's patios, either shaded or in full sun. Drying typically takes between 10–15 days.
HISTORY OF COFFEE IN NICARAGUA
Nicaragua was planted with coffee in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the crop established itself as an important export: Increasing global demand—especially from North America—and diminished supply from the Pacific Islands contributed to a steady development of the coffee market here, and the first large plantations emerged in the Managua District around this time, spreading to Jinotepe, Matagalpa, Jinotega, and Nueva Segovia. The Nicaraguan government encouraged European immigrants from Italy and Germany to buy land for coffee, and until land redistribution created small parcels of land (typically smaller than 5 hectares), the majority of the coffee was controlled by white landowners who often exploited local labour with very low wages and poor conditions.
While its nearby neighbors of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and even Guatemala began emerging as specialty-coffee origins in the 1980s, Nicaragua’s political and economic instability through the long Nicaraguan Revolution period (roughly 1974–1990), as well as the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, are among the contributing factors that kept the country out of the specialty spotlight. The breaking up of larger estates into smallholder plots created some confusion and disjointedness among the agrarian sector through the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s; USAID and Fair Trade work in-country was instrumental in unifying small producers into cooperatives and grower societies.
While Nicaragua has historically been planted with good-performing varieties—Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Maragogype, and other classic cultivars—areas of relatively low altitude (800–900 masl), the remoteness of the small farms, and battles with coffee-leaf rust in the past decade have remained obstacles in the way of the country achieving clear, prized single-origin status. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua continues to develop its reputation as a coffee origin to watch, however: The crop is still its most important, accounting for over $1.2 billion in exports, and about 15 percent of the country’s labor force is somehow involved in the coffee sector.