||Nicaragua El Quetzal Natural 2012
||Varietal: Caturra and Catuaí
El Quetzal Estate is a large and immaculately managed operation at an altitude of around 1,200-1,300meters above sea level, in the Matagalpa department of central Nicaragua.
In the late 1960s, Roberto’s parents inherited the farm from his grandfather, Stephen McEwan, a Scottish émigré. Of these 280 manzanas (around 195 hectares), an area of 190 manzanas (around 130 hectares) would become the farm that is now known as El Quetzal.
Back then, the trees were planted sparsely with just 2,500 plants/manzana in the belief that this would yield more coffee per manzana with all plants producing. Roberto’s father was the first in Nicaragua to challenge this method and instead planted (sun-grown) coffee at a density of up to 6,800 plants/manzana (almost 3 times as many).
Half of the plants were kept in production while the other half were rested. Planting density is now optimised at around 3,500-4,500 plants/manzana yielding an average of 1lb (454g) of finished green coffee per plant.
This particular lot is made up of Caturra and Catuai varietals processed using the natural method. The cherries are hand-picked when ripe and then dried in the sun on patios at the Bendañas’ wet mill.
Extensive infrastructure projects are underway at El Quetzal. Construction of additional high-quality housing for both the 150 permanent employees and 450 seasonal pickers has been completed at El Quetzal and is being rolled out at the neighbouring Los Altos farm. These facilities include running water and separate washing and kitchen blocks. The old latrines have been replaced with toilet blocks, and a septic tank and bio-digestor now provide methane gas for cooking. It also keeps any waste water from entering the river system.
There is a school, library, newly-completed day-care centre, and hydro-electric generator. The school provides places for the children of permanent workers and also runs a summer camp during the vacation months for the children of seasonal workers. The day-care centre offers much-needed childcare and means than mothers no longer have to take their infants to the fields during harvest time, or leave them alone at home. Sports and music facilities are also available.
In the cup this is funky, but not James Brown funky; more Jamiroqui, cat-in-the-hat funky. There's lots of dark fruit; think blackberries, blackcurrants, damsons, sultanas, and plums. It finishes on dark chocolate, and gets better and better as it cools. Controlled funk.
Farm: El Quetzal Estate
Varietal: Caturra and Catuaí
Processing: Natural and sun dried on patios
Owner: Roberto Bendaña McEwan
Altitude: 1,200 - 1,300 metres above sea level
Medium to medium dark roast. My preference is just into second crack, first few pops then drop.
"Quick Look" Guide:
Funky, blackberry, blackcurrant, sultanas, plums, dark chocolate.
Good Filter: Yes, Good Espresso: Yes
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