williAM VILLAGRA - EL DIAMANTE
El diamante lies in the lush mountainous far North of Nicaragua literally bordering Honduras in some parts. A treacherous red clay road leads from Jalapa up into the mountains to the farm. At the farm some infrastructure appears but the scenery remains the same: steep green hillsides. El Diamante is Rainforest Alliance certified, although the added value of certification systems is subject to debate, this farm does live up to that name. Fresh spring water is used to wash the coffee, waste is disposed of properly and flora and fauna flourishes. Spending a day at this farm was a treat.
With 105 hectares and a production of two containers of coffee El Diamante is a big farm in Nicaraguan specialty coffee terms. Nevertheless, the quality does not suffer from it. The 110+ workers are roughly divided in caturra and catimor teams, the caturra pickers spent less time in the field but more time hand-sorting the day´s harvest. These rigid controls were put in place three years ago when the switch was made the specialty coffee. The management of the farm believes firmly in this market and the opportunities for growth it provides.
The caturra manager Lester gave me and Heriberto, Expocamo's agronomist, a elaborate tour of the farm. The first abnormality we experienced was at the bridge: it partially collapsed under the weight of a truck moving coffee pulp. ´´The reality of life at the farm´´ they tell me. In this remoteness no help will ever arrive, the farm workers themselves have to come up with a solution to restore this vital part of the farm. As we continued into the field which are currently being harvested we met some coffee pickers. Most of the pickers are youngsters we chit chat, listen to music and have fun together. Despite being tough manual labor, these people make most of it. Furthermore, there are armed guards protect the coffee pickers from potential threats as the border area can be prone to drug trafficking.
At the end of the day the lot which will be sent to the dry mill is analysed by Heriberto on potential defects. From a 300 gram sample all unripe, overripe, damaged and infected beans are sorted and weighed to determine if the lot will be accepted or not. This is just another measure to ensure only the best lots will leave the farm and eventually arrive at the roaster.
San Rafael, Jalapa, Nueva Segovia
1050-1280 meters above sea level