Farm: Finca Bella Aurora
Varietal: 100% Caturra
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,350 to 1,450 metres above sea level
Owner: Luis Joaquin Lovo López
Town / City: Dipilto
Region: Nueva Segovia
08 December 2015
Overall: Nuts and chocolate with mild sweetness
Finca Bella Aurora (El Corsario) - Nicaragua
Finca Bella Aurora occupies 50 hectares of prime coffee growing land in the Municipality of Dipilto, Nueva Segovia, where the high mountains offer inspiring views, especially during sunrise and sunset. With an average altitude of 1,400 metres above sea level, an average annual temperature of 22° C, regular rainfall and a temperate climate, the farm is ideally located for the production of specialty coffee. Even more important, however, is the painstaking care that current owner and manager Luis Joaquin Lovo López takes to ensure the quality of his coffee from crop to cup.
Bella Aurora was purchased by Don Joaquin Lovo, Luis’s father, in 1956. Although Don Joaquin is still alive, at 96 years old he has passed the farm’s management & ownership on to his son, who manages the land sustainably and with great respect for the environment. “We have a Mandador (farm manager) that has been with us for 40 years. Thanks to his help, we can say that we have one of the most organized farms of this region,” comments Luis. “We take care of our water sources. We use our water responsibly. The “honey waters” (waters after the wet process) are treated...until they are completely filtered. Coffee pulp [is composted and] used as natural manure...and prunings are used as fuel.” This commitment to environmental sustainability is an inheritance from his father’s approach to farming. “We cannot continue destroying the farms because they are ours,” comments Don Joaquin. “Later on Mother Nature will charge us with drought and lack of fruits what we have taken from her. My son Luis and I can say that we may be small producers but with a big consciousness.”
Bella Aurora is planted primarily under Caturra coffee, though a small plot of Maracaturra composes about 4% of the farm’s current production. The lush coffee trees grow under the shade of Inga and banana, and due to an excellent farm management plan, sustainable control of pests and diseases, regular applications of fertiliser, and attention to detail with harvest procedures, Luis consistently produces some of Nicaragua’s best coffee. In fact, Bella Aurora has won Nicaragua’s Cup of Excellence competition on three separate occasions.
Luis’s children will be the fourth generation to lead the Nicaraguan coffee industry. Luis recounts, “My maternal grandfather, Dr. Emilio Gutierrez, was a lawyer, historian and a great humanist [who was also] known throughout Northern Nicaragua for his skill as a cattle farmer and agriculturalist. He was one of the pioneers of the coffee industry in the area around Dipilto and started his own dry mill, Beneficio Santa Lucía, which is still operating and run by me today! My father, growing up, was enamoured by the coffee business, and the first land he purchased was Bella Aurora. My father tells about how the first time he saw [the farm] he fell in love, it was such a lovely and delightful place. His mother’s name was Aurora, and this is where the farm got its name – Bella, for the farm’s, beauty, and Aurora for his mother...and because at the farm the sunrises [Aurora in Spanish] early in the morning just before the sun lifts above the horizon are spectacular.”
Don Joaquin began planting coffee at Bella Aurora in1957, and over the next twenty years his commitment to quality married with productivity led the farm to good yields despite Nicaragua’s revolution of the 1970s. By 1979 Don Joaquin’s painstaking attention led the farm’s 20 manzanas (14 hectares) to produce about 400 quintales (quintal = 46 kg) annually. However, Nicaragua’s intensifying civil war during the 1980s presented tremendous difficulties and drastically reduced productivity. The family decided to leave the country for nearly a decade, only returning to Nicaragua in 1991. Since then, the hard work of Don Joaquin and his sons has led Bella Aurora to even better productivity, expanding the farm’s size to 50 manzanas (35 hectares) with an annual production of 1,200 quintales.
Much of this is due to Luis’s expertise gained through experience. He and his brother, David, helped their father with all aspects of cultivation from an early age. As children, they would visit his family’s coffee farms with their father, travelling long distances along remote and poorly maintained roads, arriving at the entrance to the fincas only to have to finish the final miles by horse (....actually, according to Luis, Don Joaquin would ride while the boys would have to walk). Luis recounts, “I remember well how the harvest had to be carried down [to the mill] by mule. Each mule could carry two bags and four cans [of cherry] each - about two and a half quintals. I remember, as well, sinking in the mud and how the hooves marked the mules’ passing on the hills.”
Both Luis and David have clearly inherited their father’s passion for and commitment to coffee farming. Both sons take every effort to continuously improve quality in the cup, have invested heavily in their farms’ infrastructure and have plans to improve the family’s wet mill in the near future. They are also committed to stewardship of the land and take the best care to ensure the vitality and health of their coffee plantations. Every year, the family plants a minimum of 15,000 new plants and cares for them using environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices.
This particular ‘El Corsario’ lot was grown on an annex to the original farm. How the lot was acquired is an unusual story. In addition to farming coffee, Don Joaquin also kept cattle. During one cattle fair, his prize grey Brahman – named ‘El Corsario’ (The Pirate) won first place! That same year, a client of Don Joaquin’s offered to trade the bull in exchange for lands which bordered Bella Aurora. Don Joaquin immediately accepted the trade, but he named the new plot of land ‘El Corsario’ out of remembrance of his adored prize-winning Brahman bull. Like the legendary bull, the coffee grown on this plot sets a standard for excellence.
Thanks to the prices earned from his prize-winning and other high-quality lots, Luis has been able to continuously expand and improve the facilities of the farm, including building a coffee mill with a larger capacity and improving the “casona” (farm house) and access roads. “I feel very proud,” says Don Joaquin, “because I will be able to leave my son the legacy of a great farm”. It is a legacy that his son is making the most of!