At its core Nicaragua will always be a country whose economy relies on agriculture. Coffee is a very large sector of the Nicaraguan economy. The coffee industry was set back during the war in the 1980’s and has been playing catch up ever since. Today coffee just like many other things in Nicaragua has always been great but the rest of the world is just now finding out about it. Nicaraguan coffee is being sold in coffee shops around the world. Even Starbucks is working with coffee plantations in Nicaragua. You can come to Nicaragua and enjoy a great cup of coffee for a fraction of the price you would pay in the US.
The best coffee is grown in Segovia, Jinotega and Matagalpa regions. The quality of the coffee from these regions is quickly catching up and outperforming its other Central American counterparts. It is SHG (Strictly High Grown) quality. Nicaraguan coffees are usually characterized as having “classic” characteristics. They feature great body, clean flavor and balance.
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Nicaragua participates in the Cup of Excellence competition. It is a US non-profit program that judges the quality of coffee. They bring in international jurors to try the coffee and rate the coffee. International groups and companies can then bid on having the rights to these farms to export there coffee. The ones that do well in the competition usually get the highest bids. To give you an idea how far Nicaraguan coffee has come in the last 10 years, in 2002 the highest bid was $11.75 per pound from the San Isidro y El Regreso farm. In 2010 the winning bid was $35.65 for the El Esfuerzo farm. In 2009 Costa Rica’s winning bid was for $15.45.
The Cup of Excellence has been a great for all parties involved. Many farms that may have been struggling financially can receive a huge boost by competing and possibly winning the competition. For the buyers it gives them a competitive edge, therefore they can afford to pay the high prices for the coffee.
In the coffee region of the country the beauty is endless. Many of these plantations are around or near rain forests where you can find all sorts of wild life. The Selva Negra Plantation is great place to enjoy a good cup of coffee and spend the night on a coffee plantation.
While you are in Nicaragua make sure to buy some local coffee. It is a great gift option to take back home to friends and family. You do not have to pay $35 for a pound of coffee. You will be able to find great coffee for extremely affordable prices. One brand you may want to try is Yolcan Coffee which is SHG quality from Segovia. It has a creamy, balanced chocolate flavor with a medium level of citrus acidity. The body is described as lasting and consistent. It cost $8 for a 14oz bag of coffee. It is sold in restaurants and pastry shops around Managua. It will be participating in a coffee festival in San Diego, California in June. There are also many other options including the San Sebastian coffee which is also very good and available in most grocery stores in Nicaragua.
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