Nicaragua Organic Jinotega Finca La Isabelia Honey

Our Organic Nicaragua Finca La Isabelia is produced by a family of multi-generation farmers located in the heart of the Jinotega Department, approximately 9 miles northeast of the department’s capital in the picturesque Cordillera Isabella mountains. The Cordillera range cuts through the center of Jinotega, claiming several peaks, a majority of the country’s hiking trails and a large number of small coffee plantations. The farm takes immense pride in each phase of their production, taking their variety of caturra trees from cherry to final export. Their soil consists of clay and volcanic ash, and at an elevation of 4,200 ft a natural shade canopy provides cover from excessive sun. The lot is handpicked and honey processed.

Finca La Isabelia pays a per basket premium to their coffee pickers to carefully select only fully ripened cherries. Thanks to the extra care of the Finca La Isabelia pickers, a high sugar content is obtained first inside the cherry, which then promotes a high brix content (a measure of dissolved sugars within a liquid) within the milled solution of mucilage, honeyed beans and parchment. Elevated brix levels are synonymous with the development of high quality aromas, flavors and cup profiles. For this reason the honey process is handled very strictly in order to assure consistency and top quality.

Honeyed beans leaving the wet mill are immediately laid down in thin layers on traditional, sun-dried patios for 12 to 15 days, and continuously monitored by mill staff who move and rotate them when needed to achieve the ideal sun dry at proper temperatures and humidity levels. Weather and climate conditions also affect drying time with sunshine, heat and wind being an added plus to a speedy process. Lastly, the beans in dry, honeyed parchment are placed in cool, dry storage for 4 – 6 weeks to maintain the best quality and cup profile.

Honey processing has become somewhat popular for a different taste profile from many coffee countries over the last few years. When done correctly, the honey process results in a very pleasant tasting cup profile with accentuated sweetness, body and honey overtones.

The Cordillera Isabella range is at the center of a growing agritourism industry, that celebrates the simple, pristine beauty of its clouded forests and rich biodiversity. In addition to the Cordilleras and other areas where coffee production is permitted, there’s a huge portion of Jinotega that is occupied by protected tropical rainforests and natural forest reserves. A total of five national forest reserves (or reserva naturals) are located in Jinotega: Volcán Yalí, Cerro Datanlí El Diablo, Peñas Blancas, Cerro Kilambé and the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve. The sprawling, 5 million acre Bosawás Biosphere Reserve covers the entire northern portion of Jinotega along the Honduran border; it’s a land of countless jungles, rivers, mountain peaks and lakes that are home to large, diverse populations of birds, plants and animals. Amazingly to this day the majority of the reserve is unexplored. One can only guess the number of species (known and unknown) that reside here! In terms of total landmass, it encompasses 20% of Nicaragua’s overall acreage, making it the second largest tropical rainforest in the entire Western Hemisphere and handily the largest nature preserve in Central America. In fact it’s so large that its size is surpassed only by Brazil’s Amazon.

Coffee is the #1 export in Nicaragua, and like most Latin American nations, coffee production has been central to its culture and economy since the mid-1800s when it was first introduced. Jinotega is one of the nation’s three main growing regions along with the neighboring departments of Matagalpa and Segovia. As a whole, Jinotega produces the lion’s share (about 65%), where it’s tall mountains and oak and pine tree forests create excellent micro-climate growing conditions for arabica. In effect, the majority of Nicaragua’s coffee is shade grown using old-world, sustainable methods that take advantage of these native trees that blanket much of its landscape and farming regions. Nicaraguan growers have long been sensitive to the preservation of the environment and biodiversity, and use methods that prevent soil erosion, deforestation and water contamination.

The entire western half of Nicaragua is lined with a string of both active and extinct volcanoes that fall along the notorious Ring of Fire. It’s well known that volcanic ash is a major soil component for growers and luckily locals have not had to suffer any major, life-threatening eruptions in a long time. Unfortunately Nicaragua is no stranger to natural disasters and hardship. In 1998 when Hurricane Mitch made landfall it left the nation in ruin, severely crippling both infrastructure and agriculture as torrential downpours pounded its lowlands and caused widespread erosion and mudslides within the hillsides and mountains. In the years that followed, a severe, three year drought from 1999 – 2001 as well as a population struggle with civil war and other political problems held back its recovery until relatively recently. Thankfully Nicaragua is now back on a productive and positive track for both its people and its coffee farmers.

Cupping Notes: Good acidity, creamy body, light honey flavor with notes of almond and brown sugar.
Producer: Finca La Isabelia
Department: Jinotega
Variety: Caturra
Processing: Honey Processed & Sun Dried
Altitude: 4200 ft (1300 m)
Coffee Grading: Microlot
Harvest: January - April