Farm: Finca Las Neblinas
Varietal: Red Catuaí
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,500 metres above sea level
Owner: Carlos Alberto Cruz
Town / City: Buenavista del Peñon, Jalapa
Region: Nueva Segovia
Overall: Apricot, raisin, hazelnut & well rounded.
Las Neblinas Farm – Lot #1 (Nueva Segovia) - Nicaragua
Finca Las Neblinas (The Fog) takes its name from the mist that rises from between the two mountains in between which the farm lies. The air here is cool and the altitude high. At 1,500 metres, the farm benefits from an average temperature of 20˚C and plenty of water. The natural surroundings are optimal for producing exceptional coffee.
Carlos Alberto Cruz and his wife Maria Dolores Rodriguez purchased Las Neblinas in 2013. They work the farm’s 32 hectares with the help of their son, Carlos Fernando Cruz Rodriguez, and a small team of workers. The farm is meticulously managed according to a strict annual work plan, including regular weed control, fertilisation and shade tree planting and pruning. All weed control is done by hand, using machetes, in order to minimise the use of chemicals on the farm. The majority of fertilisation is completed using minerals and organic composts. Finca Las Neblinas take environmental stewardship very seriously. The family is always directly involved in the work on the farm and also employ 15 men year round to help with all the necessary labour.
Harvesting usually begins in the month of January and continues through April. During the harvest, some 20 to 25 additional employees are hired to help with the harvest activities. Harvesting starts at 6 am and continues until 4 in the afternoon: on most days the pulper is fired up at around 2 pm and continues pulping that day’s harvest well into the night. Coffee is first floated in clean water to separate damaged and underripe beans before being pulped and delivered to the wet mill’s fermentation tanks. Coffee is fermented for at least 15 hours (usually longer) before being washed in clean water to remove all traces of mucilage. The coffee is then taken to the Ocotal dry mill where it is logged according to weight and lot and then delivered to dry on African beds or on patios on black sheeting. The coffee is turned regularly to ensure even drying and is covered when weather conditions necessitate in order to ensure constant temperatures are maintained. Once it reaches optimal humidity, it is stored and rested until it is ready to be exported.
Carlos has big plans for the farm in the future. He wants to continue planting coffee from his own nursery (another 25 hectares or so) and is taking steps to improve productivity. His goal is to achieve 43 quintales (qq) per hectare (brining him to a total production of 1,000 qq in the mid-term). All gains will be achieved using more traditional varieties, such as Red Catuaí, Yellow Catuaí, Maragogype and Caturra: he has no plans to introduce Timor hybrids or other resistant varieties as his primary concern is maintaining cup quality.
Carlos wants to invest in infrastructure, as well, giving him more control over his processing and, thus, over the quality of his coffee. He aims to construct a new wet mill and to install new pulpers and washing channels – maybe a demucilager. Installing a cupping lab will also enable him to more immediately understand cup quality so as to make improvements. Also involved are plans to improve areas for workers, installing recreation grounds and making improvements to toilets and common spaces.
Carlos may be relatively new to coffee production, but he’s making great strides towards helping Nicaragua establish a reputation for high quality speciality coffee. Mercanta is proud to be supporting his efforts by offering this microlot (lot #1) and introducing our clients to the great things he is achieving.