Farm: Finca El Paraiso
Varietal: 100% Maragogype
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,200 to 1,460 metres above sea level
Owner: Siles Plantation Family Group
Town / City: El Paraíso, Comarca Las Nubes
Overall: Ripe red fruit and juicy
Finca El Paraíso – 100% Maragogype - Nicaragua
This 100% Maragogype (known locally as ‘Maragogipe’) coffee was grown on Finca El Paraíso near Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The farm was founded in 1935 by Sr. Esteban McEwan Blandón, who worked and managed the farm until the 1970s, at which time he passed the farm on to his grandchildren, Roberto and Esteban Bendaña McEwan. At the time of their inheritance, the two boys were quite young, so the farm’s management and care was given over to their mother, María Teresa McEwan. She divided the then larger farm into three smaller fincas – El Paraíso, Paraisito and El Quetzal.
In March of 2014, María Teresa sold El Paraíso and half of El Paraisito, along with another lot called ‘La Nueva’, to the Sociedad Siles Plantation Family Group, represented by Marisol del Carmen Siles Orozco. The current farm is run under the name of El Paraíso and covers a total area of 657.12 hectares in some of Nicaragua’s prime coffee growing land near Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
Sra. Marisol del Carmen Siles Orozco is one of two partners comprising Sociedad Siles Plantation Family Group. Originally from Jinotega, Marisol’s passion for coffee was inherited from her father, Armando Siles Otero, who in turn learned to farm from his father, Carlos José Siles, whose family grew coffee in the Dalia and Rancho Grande. Marisol remembers that when she was young, her family used to carry the coffee out on mules and donkeys and took a full day’s travel to reach to the nearest delivery station. Sadly, the family was forced to leave their ancestral family farm due to violence stemming from internal conflict and guerrilla uprisings that plagued much of rural Nicaragua during the 1980s; however, Marisol’s goal has always been to reinstate her family’s long coffee legacy, and El Paraíso has provided her with this opportunity.
Great care is taken in cultivation of the farm, and the best cherries are saved from each harvest to seed the farm’s extensive nursery. Seeds are pulped and then moved to a shaded and well-airated resting place to fully dry with the mucilage attached. Once dry, the best seeds are then moved to the seedbeds, previously carefully prepared for germination.
Once the seeds have germinated, they are planted into polyethylene bags with rich soil to nourish them as they grow. When they reach the proper size, they are transplanted onto various plots of land within the farm where renovation of rootstock is most needed.
Other planting and cultivation activities are managed according to a strict schedule of activities, which include pruning of shade trees and regular pruning of the coffee trees themselves. Weeding and control of undergrowth is conducted entirely by hand, with workers using machetes to trim vegetation at approximately 5 centimetres from the ground. Managing undergrowth in this way limits competition for nutrients and allows easier access to the trees while at the same time preventing soil erosion during the dry season.
Fertilisation takes place regularly, following soil analysis and visual assessment to ascertain the needed nutrients to maintain the optimal health of the plants. All fertilisation is done according to the highest organic standards and using only products permitted by OCIA International.
The harvest begins in October and ends towards the middle of March. All harvesting is done by hand and coffee is selectively picked, except for the final pass during which all coffee remaining on the trees is removed to ensure the health of the tree and to prevent unwanted seedlings, which can rob nutrients from the mother plants.
The wet mill is located on the same farm in the plot of land known as El Paraisito (the Little Paradise). Coffee is transported by truck on the same day that it is picked, is selected according to weight and is then pulped and fermented for 15 to 20 hours depending on the weather at the time. Once fermented, the coffee is washed in clean water and is bagged and delivered to the Beneficio La Pita dry mill in Matagalpa (also owned by the family), where it is sundried on patios until it reaches 12 percent humidity, after which it is bagged and rested in the dry mill’s warehouses until it is ready for milling and exportation.
The farm relies on a large number of seasonal workers (approximately 650), many of whom return year after year, to help bring in the harvest. However, many of the farm’s 140 permanent workers (30% of which are women) come from nearby communities or live on the farm itself. Some were even born on the farm and have spent their whole life there, such as Señor Gregorio Salgado, who was born on the finca in1957 and began working there when he was a young man. Even today, Sr. Gregorio continues to work tirelessly to grow the best quality coffee possible and to make ‘El Paraíso’ the coffee paradise that its name connotes.
When Sociedad Siles Plantation Family Group took over El Paraiso, the farm’s coffee plantations were in much need of renovation – many of the older trees were more than 60 years old! As such, little by little, the farm is being renovated and planted with new plants using seedlings from the farm’s own nursery. Plans in the coming years include increasing the area under Red Caturra and Maragogype and establishing 60 hectares of Marsellesa, a rust resistant variety with good cup quality.
Other plans for the future include expanding the farm’s wet mill - including constructing two additional water treatment tanks - and creating a new power plant for the farm that will enable them to utilise clean energy generated through the farm’s hydroelectric sources. The farm also will build a new dwelling for seasonal and temporary workers and plans to invest in a truck or bus to provide transport to and from work for workers that live further away.
About some of the people in the photos within the file:
Gregorio Salgado and his group are very good at clearing weeds manually using machete. Don Gregorio (with the yellow jacket) was born and raised on El Paraiso and has worked for the farm since he was a young man. He currently serves on the staff farm field.
Noel Pastor Cortedano and Santita Brisilda: Don Noel has worked on the farm for 17 years. Santita was born and raised on the farm. She is 34 years old and began working here when she was 12 years old (before child labour was prohibited in Nicaragua). She remembers that because she was very small, she was given the task of watering the nurseries when she first began.