Nicaragua, Don Victor
Time to read 3 min
There’s a new coffee on the block, it goes by the name of Don Victor. We were of the opinion, the producer’s either a raving narcissist or extremely confident his crop is exceptional – we’re unequivocally sticking with the latter; it’s one of the best.
Santa Maria has grown under the ownership of Victor Robelo to just over 35ha from the 17ha it was in 2017. Forming part of Grupo Las Nubes, it is one of seven farms in the Matagalpa and Jinotega region. It lies within La Reserva El Arenal so coffee here grows in the shade of the forest, and has been part of the family since 2011. Victor himself is the third generation of his family owning farms in coffee since 1937.
Ownership in the family went through hard times with the conflict when they were forced off the land, but he has since come back to purchase and restore the farms his father owned with a purpose to have a high performance and high-quality coffee. Speaking to ACE when he won the Cup of Excellence back in 2017 he attributed the ongoing success to the team he works with.
“There is no secret, simply doing things together, as a team, both technical part, responsible for farms, cutters and the whole team, is a set of people involved in the process. Apart from a good collection and a good wash, good drying work and dry beneficio, a total follow-up from the seed to the cup I think is the success of getting a good cof ee. But I come back and I repeat the success is in the team.” - Victor Robelo
The hunt for a summer thirst quencher has been in full swing. We set out with intentions of finding a coffee that not only delivers via pallet but aligns with the values of what we’re about at Big Dog. Clean coffee has been a domineering attribute of our coffee offering over the past few years, so diversifying from a bright cup profile lead us into the path of the Java varietal.
For those who do not know, Java is a coffee species with a reputation for producing clean but thick body and a complex, moderate acidity. With versatility in mind, the coffee species could arguably be brandished the ‘all-rounder’. What comes to mind when you think of an all-rounder? For us, it’s balance. We wanted to maintain our identity for clean coffee, all the while showcasing a deeper understanding of coffee species and the required roasting techniques to create a noteworthy cup.
Moving away from the norm
A washed process Java provided us with a multi-dimensional cup; clean yet complex. The primary goal was striking a balance between the two types of heat transfer associated with the roasting process.
Generally, conduction extracts the complexity locked inside the coffee bean and convection provides the final cup with clarity and brightness. Extracting the known floral qualities within the coffee took a front row seat in our roasting strategy. A fresh, bright mouthfeel with a moderate acidity which encompassed a Moorish complexity. As we eat grapes, what thoughts do you get? For us, it’s the sweet acidity that always leaves you wanting more. A mouthfeel to kickstart a minefield of thought.
an overview of the industry
The central American nation has been producing coffee for over 200 years, however, a turbulent past almost destroyed the industry. Political stability returned in 1990 and Nicaragua’s coffee industry has flourished since, owing thanks to some well-placed family estates driving the sector forward. A large percentage of the coffee is produced in the highlands of Jinotega and Matagalpa, each region produces distinct and unique flavours. Common to all high grown Nicaraguan coffees is a well-balanced flavour, moderate levels of acidity, with sweetness and citrusy fruits. Nicaragua is home to a plethora of coffee varietals. Bourbon and Caturra are most common, but farms extend their offering to Geisha, Java and red and yellow Catuai. Investing in agriculture within Nicaragua comes with a price tag and entry into the market is extremely difficult for new producers.
The process of releasing a new coffee never ceases to excite the team at Big Dog. From sourcing, roasting and executing final quality control, we always aim to push the boundaries for our customers. On this occasion, our paradigm of clean coffee has shifted, subsequently asking questions of our ability to deliver quality in the final cup.