Farm: Finca Las Minas
Varietal: Red Catuaí & Caturra
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,400 to 1,500 metres above sea level
Owner: Marvin Ruiz
Town / City: La Union, San Fernando
Region: Nueva Segovia
Overall: chcolate, orange, green apple
Finca Las Minas - Nicaragua
Finca Las Minas (The Mines) lies nestled high in the hills near La Unión, San Fernando, Nueva Segovia. The community of La Union is very new to coffee production. In fact, for many of the small coffee farmers who live here, 2015-16 marked their first harvest.
Leyner Alfonso Ortez Herrera, the previous owner of Las Minas, was new to coffee farming when he first began. He also lacked infrastructure for processing when he first started out. However, with the help of Expocamo S.A. (one of Mercanta’s Exporting Partners in Nicaragua) and their agronomist, Leyner began harvesting some amazing microlots from his small farm. After the 2015-2016 harvest, when he decided to sell Las Minas to Marvin Ruiz, the farm was well poised to be a producer of high quality specialty coffee.
Marvin has happily taken up the challenge of cultivating specialty coffee in this inaccessible region of Nicaragua. After buying the farm, he had a couple of months to prepare for the harvest and made good use of that time cleaning up and regulating shade. This is a particularly important activity in the mountains around La Union, as can get quite cold at night, hence the plants must get extra energy during the day.
All coffee is processed at the farm’s own rustic mill. What he lacks in infrastructure is made up for in stringent harvest and processing practices. Only the ripest and most perfect cherries being picked during the harvest. These are delivered immediately to the wet mill, pulped, and then fermented in wooden tanks for between 14 to 20 hours depending on the climate at the time. 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.
The 2016-2017 harvest was marked by heavy rainfall in December and January which unfortunately caused some lots to come out phenolic. Thanks to the lot separation system at Expocamo, this has not affected the other lots. Another issue in Nicaragua was the labour shortage. Fortunately, this did not affect Marvin since his plot is relatively small. Also, it helps that the farm workers get paid significantly more due to the remoteness and strict quality norms.