Farm: Finca La Fuente
Varietal: 100% Caturra
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,100 metres above sea level
Owner: Juan Méndez
Town / City: San Francisco de los Cedros
Finca La Fuente – Juan Mendez - Nicaragua
In the lush mountainsides of Jinotega, Juan Mendez zig-zags through the labyrinth of coffee plants growing on his farm. He treats his plants like family, readily recounting the decades they've spent together. Juan has been developing his farm, La Fuente, since 1964, when he acquired just 9 manzanas (6 hectares) of prime coffee farming land. Today, this farm of 100% Caturra trees, shows the fruits of his many years of labour and produces some of the best coffee that Nicaragua has to offer.
Much has happened in Nicaragua since Juan first started producing coffee. Electricity reached rural Nicaragua, the country made it to the Olympics, and most notably, the country went through a 30-year revolution. Juan Mendez was there for all of it, as were many of his plants.
Like Nicaragua, La Fuente has had its fair share of ups and downs. Juan has dealt with the driest of years, the wettest of years, diseases, and far from favourable markets. But he has never been deterred by these difficulties. For him, the most important thing that he has learned in his 50+ years of producing coffee is that hard work and persistence will always, in the end, lead to success. This is why he has increasingly oriented his production towards the speciality market.
While Sr. Mendez is ‘old school’, he's not stubbornly so. If there’s anything his time has taught him, it is that the best way to survive as a coffee farmer is to be flexible and always open to change – not coincidentally the same characteristics that help agriculture coexist with wilderness. While he still lovingly maintains his old trees, he's also begun to experiment with newer lots, unique varieties, and even a few coffee leaf rust resistant hybrids.
He likes the way he farms and hopes that he will watch his trees grow for the next 50 years to come.