Let’s Talk Coffee in Nicaragua
by Aaron DeLazzer
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Nicaragua, with sales team member Michelle, to attend an event called “Let’s Talk Coffee.” The conference is utterly unique, providing an opportunity to create dialogue between importers, producers and roasters.
In addition to the conference, we took a side-trip to an area outside of Jinotega, requiring an aggressive three hour drive along pot holed roads past the humidity of the city into the cooler, elevated climes of coffee country.
Dense green blurs past the window as do the occasional corrugated metal topped home with curious eyes peering from inside the doorstep. A wave and a smile is always met with a wave and a smile.
There are a surprising number of families here, tucked up into the verdant hills. Some hard-scrabble yards, wash on the line and chickens going about their business, acting casual and trying not to become lunch. Coffee trees are often not far from their front door. It is in places like this that the coffee farmers of Nicaragua call home.
One such farmer is Flora del Scorro Montenegro Blandon. Visiting with her before lunch we ask if she finds it hard to be patient, preparing all year in anticipation for the single event of the harvest. She laughs acknowledging that yes, patience is part of it, but there is just a lot of hard work involved. Very matter of fact. We push her to reveal the secret to her growing award winning coffee. She laughs again and declines us – on two separate occasions. She’s not telling.
Pre-lunch we collect in the front yard and gather oranges tossed down to us from her husband, who’s shimmied up their orange tree. Green, tough-skinned beauties that are a balance of tart and sweet, their flavour is utterly vivid.
Lunch is graced by fragrant cups of coffee and begins with thick corn tortillas centered with a dollop of homemade cheese. The main course is a large bowl of rustic chicken soup, with shimmering broth, root veggies and moist tender chicken that would’ve been roaming the yard only hours ago. Dessert is fresh squeezed orange juice – as many tall glasses as you can drink.
When you take a sip of our Nicaraguan coffee, pause for a moment, embrace it with a warmth and zest for life shared by the people whose nurturing made it possible and in doing so honour them, their hands and the land it came from. Each coffee a distinctly unique expression, with a distinctly unique story.