Farm: Finca Flor Silvestre
Varietal: Caturra & Red Catuaí
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,400 to 1,600 metres above sea level
Owner: Roger Esau Herrara Ortez
Town / City: La Explosión, San Fernando
Region: Nueva Segovia
Overall: Cooked sugar, juicy, brown sugar & peanut
Flor Silvestre (Nueva Segovia) - Nicaragua
Finca Flor Silvestre, located at the intriguingly named ‘Cerro de La Explosión’ (Explosion Hill) is owned by Roger Esau Herrera Ortez. When the farm was founded in 1997, Roger was considered something of a maverick, as he was the first coffee farmer the be planting coffee trees in such a difficult place to produce coffee. The forest was dense (the area had seen a great deal of military activity during the Sandanista and Contra years) and the land steep. The task seemed nigh on impossible. However, Roger remained undaunted, cutting his way through the forest until he reached his parcel of land.
The farm had previously been a mine camp for rebel forces, so his first task was to clean up. Once it was leveled and all dangerous equipment removed, Don Roger Esau started to plant coffee trees one by one, manzana by manzana. He found that producing coffee at such a high elevation and at such cool temperatures is not easy: it requires a lot of effort and patience and growth of the trees is slow, taking up to 4 years to reach full production. Yields are low – with only 7-12 quintales per manzana (.70 hectares) whereas in other areas of Nicaragua production averages at about 40 quintales per manzana.
Luckily, despite the drawbacks, Don Roger Esau has discovered that the same challenges are what make his coffee so unique and special. He is now very proud of being producer of very high quality coffee; in fact, his coffee was recognized in 2015’s Cup of Excellence and has won recognition during the recent ‘Cafes mas Finos de Nicaragua’ Competition (2016).
All coffee is processed at the farm’s own wet mill. Only the ripest and most perfect cherries are picked during the harvest. These are delivered immediately to the wet mill, pulped, and then fermented in wooden tanks for between 24 to 36 hours depending on the climate at the time.
At the end of the 2015-16 harvest, a big investment was made in a brand new eco-friendly wet mill. The shiny new wet mill reuses the same water throughout an entire processing day, which reduces waste significantly. Moreover, the new system sorts coffee before it even reaches the fermentation tank. Instead of one big tank, the coffee is now separated over four different tanks, each containing coffee of a different weight, hence quality. This has led to an even more precise separation of lots and the ability to identify outstanding nano-lots.
Indeed, all the challenges cultivating coffee in coffee in this area have proved to be more than worth it this year, with Roger Esau Herrera Ortez winning the fifth place in Cup of Excellence with his ‘Buena Vista, Maracaturra’ plot. With the latest investment, Don Roger continues to be a pioneer in the area, not only taking steps toward quality but also towards environmental sustainability. The next step is sediment tanks for the wastewater which will be built in 2017.
After fermentation, the coffee is fully washed and then soaked in clean water until all traces of mucilage are removed. After washing, it is delivered to the Guadalupana mill in Ocotal where the coffee is carefully and evenly dried on raised beds. The drying process takes between 12 and 18 days depending of the weather, during which time it is carefully turned on a regular basis. After achieving optimal humidity, the coffee is rested and then dry milled at Ocotal mill when it is ready to be exported.