Roaster’s tasting notes: This is a Silver Oak Coffee exclusive and has been selected as the next single estate espresso to be served at all our locations and through selected partners. The final profile has been selected and this is now available on general release.
Roasted to an espresso profile of medium dark to ensure balance of extraction this coffee rewards with a smooth body and dense creme, a high brown sugar sweetness with a little stone fruit acidity with notes of red apple and a little chocolate.
Finca la Ventaja was founded in1994 by Don Ramon Catalino Paguaga, father of the farm’s current owners, Norman & Sergio Paguaga. When he first acquired the farm, Don Ramon had been working on a coffee plantation in the area as a day labourer, performing tasks such as weed control by machete, fertilizing, shade regulation and other activities that compose the day-to-day work on a coffee farm. Don Ramon had a love of coffee and knew that he was destined to put that love into his own farm one day. With a great deal of effort, he set about saving enough money to buy a piece of land. Finally, a mid-size plot (around 30 manzanas – or 21 hectares) became available in the nearby community, La Laguna #2. He purchased it in 1994 and immediately set about establishing Caturra trees on the land.
Dipilto (the municipality where La Laguna is located) is an ideal location for coffee production, with various microclimates, great elevation and a wide range of coffee varieties. The nearest town is also named Dipilto: with a mere 4,400 inhabitants this is also the last stop before the Honduran border. Although it is a relatively small municipality, many Cup of Excellence winning lots come from here. The area is characterised by steep hills covered with lush forest and pine trees, with coffee plantations under the canopy.
With the help of their family, Norman & Sergio have made the most of these natural surroundings and have grown from strength to strength as coffee farmers. In fact, today the brothers are considered some of the best coffee farmers in Nicaragua! They have managed to double their land size to about 60 manzanas (around 42 hectares) of primarily Caturra and Catuaí, and have won multiple prizes, including placing highly in the 2015 Cup of Excellence Competition and in the 2016 Los Cafes Mas Finos de Nicaragua (Finest coffees of Nicaragua) competition.
The brother´s plots are divided by the many streams that make their way through the farm. In addition to the Caturra and Catuaí that make up this lot, they also have substantial plantations of Maragogype and Pacas. The Maragogype, which covers 30% of the farm, can be produce excellent quality and farmers are paid a premium for single-variety Maragogype lots. Throughout the farm all the different varieties look exceptionally healthy, due to the brothers’ and the farm manager’s deep knowledge about the farm itself and the current challenges it faces. Interestingly, here and there the farm is dotted with a random Java plant, a somewhat mysterious variety native to Ethiopia. In pursuit of quality, Norman will plant 1.5 hectares of Java in 2017, which will hopefully lead to some exciting microlots.
All coffee is processed at Finca La Ventaja’s own mill, whose electricity is generated by solar panels which can cause trouble on cloudy days. The brothers also provide wet milling services to one other farmer from the region, so one aim is to improve improved electric infrastructure, which would be a great step forward for everybody involved.
The stringent practices start with only the ripest and most perfect cherries being picked during the harvest. These are delivered immediately to the wet mill, pulped, and then fermented for between 14 and 24 hours depending on the climate at the time. After fermentation, the coffee is fully washed and then soaked in clean water until all traces of mucilage are removed. After washing, it is delivered to the Guadalupana mill in Ocotal (only about 25 km from the farm) where the coffee is carefully evenly dried on raised beds. The drying process takes between 12 and 18 days depending of the weather, during which time it is carefully turned on a regular basis. After achieving optimal humidity, the coffee is rested and then dry milled at Ocotal mill when it is ready to be exported.