Nicaragua Nueva Segovia Finca Santa Gema
Fragrance/Aroma: Grape Juice, Anise, Pepper
Flavor: Concord Grape, Cinnamon, Basil
Back in April, we traveled down to Nicaragua to visit Beneficio Las Segovias and cup coffees from the new harvest. Beneficio Las Segovias is a renowned dry mill in Ocotal, Nueva Segovia that we have worked with for a number of years. We kicked off our trip by cupping around 100 super-fresh coffees from the surrounding areas. This Maracaturra lot from Finca Santa Gema instantly jumped out as one of our favorite lots; so we were very excited to be able to spend some time a few days later with farm’s owner, Mario Vilchez and his family.
The landscape from the capital city of Managua, to Ocotal is a dry, tropical savanna. Ocotal itself is surprisingly dry as well. We travel along the town’s charmingly dusty roads to the towering gates of the dry mill. A genial guard beckons us through the gates of the sprawling compound. The sweetly arid heat seems like an ideal place for a dry mill.
The landscape along the drive from Ocotal to Mozonte--the nearest town to Finca Santa Gema--follows the dry and arid trend. I’m beginning to wonder how coffee can survive in such an atypically dry climate. As we travel along a steep and winding mountain road toward the Finca, the climate begins to moisten, and the landscape abruptly transforms to green and lush. We’re in a very recessed part of the mountain that is positioned in such a way that it is almost in constant shade. I’m told that the moist climate and dewy air is the result of a combination of the shade and a network of natural springs in the area.
After touring a few of Mario’s other farms, we arrive at Finca Santa Gema. It is a very clean and well-managed operation with housing and a community kitchen on site for the farm’s workers. Santa Gema is a fairly small farm at only 4 hectares, and accounts for roughly half Mario’s total coffee land. Because of the size of his coffee farms, Mario has chosen to devote himself to a relentless pursuit of quality through excellent production standards and direct-trade relationships. The premiums he receives for the quality of his coffees ensures he and his employees can earn a sustainable living year after year. After visiting these farms, Mario drove us back to Ocotal and opened his home to us for a wonderful dinner with his wife and children. We were very lucky to have been able to get to know such an exemplary coffee producer, and be able to showcase one of his most special and highest quality lots is quite an honor.
We had a great time developing our roast profile for this coffee. It was a dream to roast and only took a couple tweaks to get it just right. In the freshly-ground aroma you’ll notice a tart burst of concord grape juice, anise, pepper and various chai spices. In the cup the grape juice note becomes sweet grape jelly. Basil, cinnamon and a complex bouquet of spices carry the brew’s initial flavor. Freshly baked rye bread and molasses draw this silky smooth coffee through a crisply clean finish.
Producer: Mario Jose Vilchez Urbina
Farm: Finca Santa Gema
Region: Nueva Segovia
Altitude:1400 - 1600 MASL
Process: Fully Washed
Dry Mill: Beneficio Las Segovias