Coffees of NicaraguaNicaragua has undergone traumatic changes in its recent past which have deeply affected its coffee farmers. The agrarian cooperative movement was greatly strengthened during the Sandinista period of the 1980's. After the violence of the contra war ended and with the Sandinistas out of power a rare balance, for Latin America, emerged between medium-large farmers and small farmers grouped under cooperatives. Facilities improvement and training programs to make small farmers a force in Nicaraguan Specialty Coffee were launched by NGO's like CLUSA. The value of these programs and of the pragmatic results-driven philosophy of cooperatives became apparent with the first Cup of Excellence competition in 2002. While only 30% of the contestants were small farmers, they won 50% of the winning slots, including first place. The two coffees we purchased from the 2005 Cup of Excellence auction reflect this positive ongoing and inspiring Central American dynamic. One lot is from an independent medium sized farmer (Las Termopilas - 52 acres) while the other is from two small, cooperative-based farmers who joined forces (Teofilo Cesar Torrez and Mario Torrez).
Nicaraguan coffee is generally grown at moderate altitudes (3,000 to 4,500 ft) with medium to high rainfall depending on location. Their fine grades are distinguished by warm nutty-citrus flavors with mellow acidity and medium to full body that, we find, have widespread appeal.