• Nicaragua has the lowest per capita income in all of Central America relying on agricultural exports to sustain its economy, one of which is excellent quality coffee.
• Gold Mountain coffee is grown outside Matagalpa, three hours north-east of the capital city of Managua, which has rich volcanic soils and abundant rainfall.
• The thirty farms that contribute coffee to the collective produce their own seedlings, and when they are sufficiently mature the young plants are transferred to hillside soils beneath the shade of banana trees.
• The bulk of the coffee is Maragogype, a large bean with a lush flavor.
• Coffee cherries must be carried in canastas (baskets) by hand across the steep, dense mountainside forests, and then loaded in to larger sacks for transport down to the processing mill by donkey.
• Soils are naturally rich and fertile, but are enhanced with composted coffee pulp left over from processing.
• Direct trade premiums fund technology for schools, civil infrastructure and initiatives directed the local farming community.
About our Nicaragua:
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti, having overcome dictatorship and civil war before being devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed thousands, rendered 20% of the population homeless and caused an estimated $300 million worth of damage. Relying on tourism and agricultural exports to sustain its economy, the country produces excellent quality coffee, typically grown in the highlands of the northern and central mountain ranges. Geographically, Nicaragua is a collection of micro-climates, and the area around Matagalpa/Jinotega, lying 200km north-east of the capital Managua, is particularly well suited for growing coffee, with rich volcanic soils and abundant rainfall. The territory is intersected by two mountain ranges called Dariense e Isabellia, and a criss-crossing network of rivers link the area’s mountains, natural reserves, lakes and waterfalls.
Situated on a mountainside a half hour outside Matagalpa, the Gold Mountain Coffee Growers fields form a small community dedicated to the production of incredibly high quality coffee with an emphasis on self sufficiency and ecological sustainability. The name is drawn from a colloquialism; local people refer to this particular mountainside as La Zona del Oro, or the zone of gold. The estate produces its own seedlings and, when they are sufficiently mature, transfers the young plants to the rich, volcanic hillside soils beneath the shade of banana trees. Interspersed throughout the plantation are community garden plots growing cabbage, passion fruit, bananas and other produce for consumption by the workers and their families.
The bulk of the coffee grown by Gold Mountain is Maragogype, sometimes called the “elephant bean” for its large size. It is well regarded by professional cuppers, not because a bigger seed produces a better cup, but because the Maragogype plant, and its variant Pacamara, produces fewer cherries, meaning the flavor is more concentrated. It also means that cultivating this variety is labor intensive and time consuming. Gold Mountain pay some of the best rates in the area to a dedicated staff who are trained to only pick the ripest, sweetest beans. Our Gold Mountain coffee comes from the farm of Don Francisco and his wife Blanca Nieve, high up in the mountains of Jinotega. The farm is at such a high altitude that their coffee is harvested a full two months after the rest of the region’s due to the colder climate and increased cloud.
There are no roads leading to the coffee plantations, just paths, so the coffee cherries must be carried down to the nearest road by people or donkeys. Then coffee is then loaded into the farm’s new truck to be taken back to the depulping facility, which is built alongside a family home. The truck was purchased with funding from Gold Mountain, who are constantly re-investing in their members. Other recent projects include free computing classes for farmers using donated equipment, obtaining an operation for a young handicapped girl so she could walk for the first time, and providing appropriate accommodation for her disability. A civic enterprise, Gold Mountain Coffee Growers is an excellent example of a socially responsible farm using sales premiums to invest in local education, infrastructure and the indigenous community.