My first coffee origin trip to Nicaragua was joyous, enriching, and breathtaking. Ben Weiner, the owner of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, was my guide. We visited over 16 different farmers, sat with them, and discussed business and coffee with them. Throughout the year, we will be sharing some of the coffees from the farmers that we visited. Dona Sebastiana was one of our first visits. Her son, Reynaldo, was gracious and warm and invited us into their small home. I forced myself to speak in Spanish throughout the visit, no matter how painful it might have been for Ben or for the lovely farmers.
Part of my dream was realized at their farm. With all of the coffee expertise that I have acquired over 16 years, I had never tasted or held in my hand, a freshly picked coffee cherry. At Dona Sebastiana’s farm, I tasted my first coffee cherry! (In Judaism, when you do something special for the first time, you say a special blessing. I am quite sure that I was the first to make such a blessing on that farm.)
Sebastiana Dias Ortiz (61) was the matriarch of a family of small-plot coffee producers in the Las Nubes community of Matagalpa, very far off the grid. She passed away after the 2015 harvest and left behind her son Francisco on the farm and her husband, Facto, as well as five other sons and daughters who produce coffee next door. The prices they have received from Gold Mountain Coffee Growers have been the highest they have received in the 35 years they have been farming coffee, well-deserved because of the meticulous care they take when producing their coffee.We miss Doña Sebastiana dearly. She was originally a cook on a large plantation.
A friend gave her a piglet, which she raised and sold to buy a calf. The calf grew to be a cow and produced two more cows. Doña Sebastiana sold them and bought the picturesque and remote “El Naranjo” farm, on which the family now grows coffee, beans, and fruits and vegetables.To get the farm and its high-cupping specialty coffee, Gold Mountain Coffee Growers has to drive past armed guards (with large guns) of another farm, literally through rivers, and down nearly impassable roads. During our extremely long road trips, I would pray fervently to G-d because the roads were treacherous. I truly didn’t believe that I would survive some of the roads.
“We would like to keep working to improve our situation for our children and our grandchildren. That is our main goal,”she told Gold Mountain Coffee Growers.
Her family removed their lower-cupping catimor (a mostly inferior coffee varietal) coffee trees in favor of higher-cupping varieties several years ago, and Gold Mountain Coffee Growers gave them long-term loans to renovate their coffee and defend it from diseases.
Her family is a member of the Las Nubes(The Clouds)Cooperative, whose President, Vice President, and Treasurer are all women.The coop has solar panels on its collection center and uses many sustainable methods including worm composting. Las Nubes Coop is well-known for producing some of Nicaragua’s finest coffee due to the fertile soil and high altitude. Chazzano Coffee Roasters have offered some of these incredible coffees a few years ago. The Las Nubes coffee is deeply complex and one of my favorite coffee growing regions.
Chazzano Coffee Roasters will be selling this rare Dona Sebastiana single origin microlot coffee for $36/ pound. A portion of the proceeds from every cup and pound sold will be donated back to the women of Las Nubes. Our friends at Gold Mountain Coffee Growers will provide the coffee farmers micro-loans repaid with bags of high quality, low defects, specialty coffee. I quickly learned Spanish before my trip, but my favorite Spanish word spoken on the streets of Nicaragua is tuani, or awesome. This coffee is tuani. The good deeds of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers is tuani. Our partnership with these farmers is tuani.