- Size – 130,370 sq km
- Capital City – Managua
- Main Port City – Corinto
- Population – 5,966,798 (June 2016)
- Language/s Spoken – Spanish (official)
Coffee production in Nicaragua
- Population Involved in Coffee – 44,000 producers
- Average Farm Size – 1–14 hectares
- Bags Exported Annually – 2.3 million bags (2016/2017)
Nicaragua Coffee profile
- Growing Regions – Jinotega, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia
- Common Varieties – Bourbon, Catuai, Catimor, Caturra, Maracaturra, Maragogype
- Processing Method/s – Washed, some select other processes on occasion
- Country-Specific Grading – SHG (Strictly High Grown), HG (High Grown)
- Bag Size – 69 kg
- Harvest Period – October–March
- Typical Arrival – April–July
History of Nicaragua Coffee
Nicaragua was planted with coffee in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the crop established itself as an important export: Increasing global demand—especially from North America—and diminished supply from the Pacific Islands contributed to a steady development of the coffee market here, and the first large plantations emerged in the Managua District around this time, spreading to Jinotepe, Matagalpa, Jinotega, and Nueva Segovia. The Nicaraguan government encouraged European immigrants from Italy and Germany to buy land for coffee, and until land redistribution created small parcels of land (typically smaller than 5 hectares), the majority of the coffee was controlled by white landowners who often exploited local labor with very low wages and poor conditions.
Turbulent times of nicaragua coffee
While its nearby neighbors of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and even Guatemala began emerging as specialty-coffee origins in the 1980s, Nicaragua’s political and economic instability through the long Nicaraguan Revolution period (roughly 1974–1990), as well as the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, are among the contributing factors that kept the country out of the specialty spotlight. The breaking up of larger estates into smallholder plots created some confusion and disjointedness among the agrarian sector through the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s; USAID and Fair Trade work in-country was instrumental in unifying small producers into cooperatives and grower societies.
Nicaragua Coffee Growing Regions
Nicaragua is a prolific producer, with many different regions, varietals and levels of quality. To help market and establish standards, it’s helpful to look at the different regions and what they’re known for.
Jinotega is a well-respected coffee grown in Nicaragua, and is the primary coffee growing region in Nicaragua. Jinotega is a market name, derived from the word xinotencatl, which may either mean “city of old men” or “neighbours of the Jinocuabos”. Jinotega produces Caturra and Bourbon coffees, which grow between 1,100 to 1,700 meters. The Flor de Jinotega is grown by the Soppexcca cooperative with shade-growing practices under banana and mango trees, though not Bird-Friendly or Shade-Grown certified. It is a well rounded coffee, that is sweet and deep. Offered by Thanksgiving Coffee.
The capital city of Matagalpa gives this region its name, which consists of many estates and cooperatives. Coffees here are typically the Caturra and Bourbon variety, and grow between 1,000 and 1,400 meters.
With rich with fruity topnotes and hints of chocolate, Nicaragua Segovia (sometimes “Nueva Segovia”) has an almond-nougat sweetness. It is rarely available on the market, and is grown between 1,000 and 1,400 meters.
A Medium-Dark Roast is recommended to highlight Nicaragua Segovia’s Caturra or Bourbon coffees, which have a balanced richness. This is a nice gourmet coffee for sipping throughout the day.
Nicaraguan Elephant Bean Known for their Heft
In Nicaragua, there is also a coffee plant that produces very large leaves and berries as well as the planet’s largest coffee beans. They are known as Elephant Beans, and the cultivar is a spontaneous variation of Arabica Typica (Coffea Arabica var. Typica). The plant grows best at elevations between 2,000 and 2,500 feet above sea level.
First grown in Brazil, this mutant variety of this Arabica Typica plant now thrives in Nicaragua. While the yield of Maragogype is not large, the beans certainly are.