La Amistad Natural | Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua
La Amistad Natural | Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua Coffee Cherry at Wet Mill Un Regalo de Dios Luis Alberto Balladarez The vista from El Ganador atop Un Regalo De Dios.

Notes: Strawberry, nectarine, pineapple & brown sugar.

Nicaragua Source Trip Notes

La Amistad, a natural processed red Catuai, is the first of five coffees Bluebeard sourced and purchased from our trip to Nueva Segovia in Northwest Nicaragua in April of this year.

La Amistad is a highly contested lot of red Catuai coffee found within Un Regalo de Dios, a lush protected pocket of coffee forest protected on three sides by steep mountainside an hour’s 4x4 drive up into the dry pine forests above Mozonte. Owned and run by Luis Alberto Balladarez and his son, Luis Jr., the care taken and methodology undertaken in growing and processing the coffees of Un Regalo de Dios are impressive by any measure. 

The exacting nature of Luis Alberto’s unwavering attention to detail is best witnessed  at the family’s Beneficio Las Segovias in Ocotal, Nueva Segovia’s principal city. As Atlas Coffee Importers (who set up our site visits and have a long history with the three families we spent time with on this trip) write, “visiting Beneficio Las Segovias feels a little like entering a sanctuary for coffee. The cupping room, drying patios and dry mill at BLS are immaculate and appear both well used and well cared for. Quality control is taken very seriously here, and every picking that Luis Alberto receives at his wet mills and dry mill is carefully catalogued and tracked through the entire process. This attention to detail, Luis Alberto’s own personality and the exquisite quality of his coffees mean that some of his farms rarely see Atlas’ offer lists, if ever.” 1

Indeed, Luis Alberto’s unwavering calm, faith and control in the midst of a staggering quantity of operational details was impressive. Even intimidating. Just one quick example, a single covered drying area roughly a football field in size was lined with rows of screen lined racks of different lots of drying natural and honey process coffees, each with its own temperature readings, water misters so that the coffees would dry more slowly, attendants, and meticulous record keeping. Each tiny variant in the chain of processes from farm to wet mill to dry mill to cup is repeatedly probed and tweaked and tasted to see which set of variables yield the best possible cup profile. I am astounded by the knowledge and body of work that goes into these coffees. 

A quick note about this coffee: I mentioned that this coffee was highly contested. There were five buyers from five roasteries on this trip, along with our expert host Drew Billips of Atlas Coffee. We all scored this coffee highly and rather than draw straws on a five bag lot, we split it five ways, one 60 kilo bag per roaster. It won’t last long. Disfruta. 

-Kevin McGlocklin