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Out Of Office - Nicaragua




Nicaragua had always been a country I've been interested in, some of the best espressos I've ever had seem to come from this country. I had been in communication with a gentleman named Ben from Gold Mountain Coffee growers for some time, almost a year now - who seems to have an incredibly quality focused approach to coffee producing. Craft House Coffee has always been on a mission to understand how and why producers do what they do, understanding the infrastructure involved and ultimately creating a better coffee.


Three flights and the usual amount of getting lost later, I found myself meeting one of the "neighbours" Eric outside Managua airport and was on my way to Matagalpa, the hub for Gold Mountain Coffee Growers. After a very warm welcome it was time for our first stop, the Jinotega zone to pick up one lot partially dried washed process Caturra and one freshly picked naturally processed lot of red Caturra and yellow Catuai to be taken to there drying facilities.



While on the move Ben took me through how many farms he works with and his approach to quality. Each farm during harvest season has a supervisor on site, this was an approach I haven't seen before. The idea of having a representative from GMCG on site created that next level of assurance, as well as more jobs for the community. Coffee is transported to one of the many communal milling facilities that takes advantage of the areas warmer microclimate and dried on raised beds. The partially dried washed process coffees take around two weeks to dry while the honey and naturally processed coffees take three to four weeks.



During our time at the milling facility we get the opportunity to cup the processed harvests. This the fun part! The crops are given a cup score, from 1-100, 80 and above are considered speciality. Some lots had some incredible characteristics including an experimental Java variety (more on this to come) that was very much in the 90's zone (thats high!). So after around 150 cups and a numb tongue it was probably time to call it a day... the coffee low was on another level...


Evaluating coffee like this is very new to me. We are used to receiving crops that have been milled, refined and checked checked, double checked. This trip offered an opportunity to really dive into how to make coffee better from the farms level, find crop defects and work on how to eliminate it. Gold Mountain work harder than I have ever seen to make better coffee and each stage from picking to final lot takes time, man power and dedication. The result is truly spectacular!



I’m proud to of come back from Nicaragua having made new friends, building a more transparent link from farm to cup and ultimately understanding what makes amazing coffee.


- Tom Osborne



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