Production Of Coffee In Nicaragua

Introduced into the country in the mid-1800s and forming a central position in the country’s economy for more than a century, coffee is currently Nicaragua’s primary export. Its production generates over $500 million dollars a year in exports and provides more than 300 thousand jobs. Around 45,000 farmers and their families depend on coffee as their main source of income.

Most Nicaraguan coffee is shade grown on very small farms (less than 3 hectares or 7 1/2 acres) with organic farming practices, though little is certified organic. This is because most Nicaraguan farmers are too poor to buy fertilizers and pesticides or to afford the fees for organic certification.

Coffee production is concentrated in the highlands of Jintotega, Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia and the coffee industry is divided between large single estates, cooperatives and small growers associations. Most coffee is processed using the traditional fully washed method and dried on patios; however, some farmers also now produce natural and honey/pulped natural coffee and dried using raised beds .

The weather in the mountains can be cool and humid – conditions that can stretch drying times to a point where problems can arise in the cup. Depending on the weather conditions and the location of the farm, parchment is sometimes transported to lower altitude mills for final drying. Road infrastructure has proved to be crucial, as in the past, semi-wet parchment would reach its final destination after long delays and coffees often would experience a second ferment in transit. The government, thus, is taking steps to improve transport infrastructure.

Surprisingly, Nicaraguan coffees are quite distinct from other Central American beans. A typical Nicaraguan coffee is citrusy, bright and delicate – similar to some of the Ethiopian beans – and very different from the full-bodied, rich and chocolatey beans you can typically find in Central America.

  • Growing Altitude: 1,100 – 1,600 meters above sea level
  • Arabica Variety: Bourbon, Caturra, Pacamara, Maragogype, Maracaturra, Cutaui, Catimor
  • Harvest Period: October – March
  • Milling Process: Honey / Natural / Washed, Sun-dried
  • Aroma: Sweet (caramel), Chocolate, Citrus
  • Flavor: Floral, Citrus (lemon), Chocolate
  • Body: Smooth
  • Acidity: Bright, Citric