Farm: Finca San Francisco
Owner: Martin Gadea
Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
Process: Fully washed, dried on raised beds
Medium body, subtle complexity with good sweetness and an interesting savoury character, flavours of malt, roasted vegetables and peanuts.
Martin Gadea has been a well-known coffee farmer in the Nicaraguan town of Jïguina for many years. He is widely recognised for his expertise in production methods and respected for his keen eye for the market, skills that have helped him to grow as a coffee farmer over the past 30 years.
Martin inherited San Francisco from his father, with whom he used to work the farm. Together, the two men established and cared for the farm’s plantations of Caturra and Catuaí trees. They also planted together some much loved Maragogype trees. Shade is provided by abundant guava and orange trees. In the early days Martin used to work in a cooperative, and later he even tried organic coffee farming. He finally settled with specialty coffee farming some years ago, the one and only way to achieve higher prices he says. Although it requires more stringent attention to detail, the results are better.
In 2014 Martin went to the SCAA conference in Seattle by himself, without knowing a soul there. He wanted to better understand for himself what specialty coffee was all about from the consumer perspective. During that same trip he also visited San Francisco, his favourite city. However, this is not the event that culminated in the farm’s name. Rather, the Finca was named after his grandfather Francisco.
All San Francisco’s coffee is processed at the farm’s own wet mill. Only the ripest and most perfect cherries are picked during the harvest. These are delivered immediately to the wet mill and are sorted again to remove any renegade under-ripe or damaged cherries. The cherries are then pulped and fermented in wooden tanks for between 12 to 24 hours depending on the climate at the time. After fermentation, the coffee is fully washed in tiled channels with clean water until all traces of mucilage are removed. Special attention is given to separating the different parts of each day's production as it is washed through the washing channel. The 'head' and 'tail' of each lot are considered to be of inferior quality and are kept separate from the other parchment.
After washing, the wet parchment is drained and then packed to be delivered daily to a collection centre in Jinotega (30 minutes drive). From there it is delivered, together with the parchment of other coffee farmers in the area, to the dry mill in Ocotal (2 hours). Here, in the dry mill’s pristine conditions, the parchment is dried on shaded African beds. The cooler temperature created by the shade allows the coffee to dry slowly, hastened along by airflow as opposed to direct heat from the sun. Direct heat can cause stress to the beans and reduce shelf life.
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