Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Nicaraguan coffee: from seed to cup

When I (your blogger Gerry) was up in La Colmena with Alpha 6 during phase 1, a group of us went on a coffee research project to find out where that sweet, steaming cup of morning Nicaraguan coffee comes from.

Report: Claudia de Wolfe
Pictures: Rosie Webb

Nicaraguan coffee is sweet and refreshing. The growth and export of coffee beans is an important part of everyday life in La Colmena in the Miraflor region. The process is carefully tended to by the women of the village, which produces 60,000 x 50 kg bags of beans for export each year alone.

With community leader Doña Francisca as our guide we were lucky enough to visit their 'plantación de cafe' or coffee farm. For such substantial production quantities, this was not at all what we expected. Clambering up the rough terrain and increasingly steep slop, we saw the different stages of coffee bean growth.

First, the coffee bean seedlings are soaked in water and then neatly left to sprout in cultivated and fertilized soil.

After three months these become intensely bright green plants, about 20cm high.

The plants can then be moved up the slope, to grow further.

A delicate white flower precedes the coffee beans.

These will eventually be ready to hand-pick after two years, when the beans are ripe and a sun-blush red.

The beans are then carried up to the village, and funnelled through a well-sized 'despulpadora' (pulping machine) at each families' home.

Here it is washed, peeled and all the debris is removed. Next the beans are sieved, sorted and laid out to dry for a day in the Nicaraguan sunshine.The beans are roasted in large clay ovens.

They are then crushed and re-roasted again. This is the local's favourite part, when the smell of fresh ground coffee fills the air.

Finally, the fine heaped spoonfuls of coffee are put in boiling water for half an hour...

... to make eight strong and delicious servings. It would be rude not to!

Muchas gracias to Doña Francisca and the whole La Colmena community from Alpha 6!


  1. Yuri Nishiksawa Alpha Romeo 2

    Hi Yuri, How are you. It was so good to hear your voice (even though it was 1:30 in the morning!) Every body in Japan is OK. But it is heart breaking to watch the news. Gigi sends his love.He is so proud of you! He think you are amazing. We saw Emma, Taro and Danielle on Sunday. Emma is so lovely and is much stronger and bigger than we thought she would be. Hope your trekking is going ok. We all miss you very much.
    Love Mum

  2. Kirsty, Dad and boys16 March 2011 at 07:46

    For Jessy B - delta 4 romeo

    Hey there, glad you're all safe and on higher ground (usually a good place to be - views are often better). Hope you do get back to do some turtle work....

    No news here's Red Nose day on Friday so the boys are keen to wear their pyjamas to school.. and James seems to have volunteered himself and a couple of mates to do some stand-up jokes in the talent show.... he gave me an example: " Why did the chicken go to Sainsbury's?"..........." to see his roasted uncle!" Oh dear, I pity the teachers and pupils if that's the standard... such a shame I'll be at work and can't possibly go!!!

    Anyway, lots of love to you from all of us. Take good care now.

  3. alpha romeo 4 Emily vd Bunt.
    He schatje erg benieuwd hoe t gaat! zie mn berichtjes niet terug maar ga er maar vanuit dat t goed aankomt.Heerlijk weekendje gehad bij Egler in de sneeuw, boys gezellig bij Omi gelogeerd. Met name Q veranderd wel erg....wordt voor jou wel schrikken. Cas weer begonnen met een mega krantenwijk met 5 uur op....Ze zijn druk bezig met paps kado en jouw filmpje is volgens Leontien ook erg leuk geworden! Volgns mij kan jij rond 24 mrt. weer even bellen, dan ben ik met vriendinnen in stanton dus bel maar mobiel! Lieverd hou je taai en verheug me al stiekem op half Mei kussssssssssssssssssssss



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