Jinotega , Nicaragua
January 27 , 2011
Ernesto Somarriba: Photography
Paul Katzeff :Text
The Harvest in Nicaragua as in most of Central America and Mexico will be over in about a month. From November to March, depending on Latitude and altitude, the harvest continues as the cherries ripen . Unlike grapes that ripen all at once, coffee cherries ripen over a 3 month period on each tree. Thus , the farmer must return many times to the same tree to complete his/her harvest.
The first two photos show two very different coffee farmers. The first is a campacino who might be just a landless picker w0rking on a plantation and getting about $3-4 dollars a day picking cherries. The second appears to be a small scale coffee farmer working his own land and obviously, he is allot better off then the first guy. Who is happier and living a more spiritual life is unknown.
Animal power is much more personal then relating to an auto engine but there is a price to pay and that price is paid in time(things move more slowly), in work(it’s harder on the back) and in the amount of land a farmer needs to set aside for pasture. But the rewards come from the fact that you are in a vehicle powered by the sun that produces waste product that feed the coffee trees. The next photo I can almost smell from here. Sweet fruit and crushed skins after the coffee has been depulped and is off to the washing troths and fermentation tanks. It is a messy job to clean up but in the tropics , which is a bacteria and yeast rich environment , cleanliness is more then essential. This is a motor driven machine capable of removing the skins and pulp from 100,000 lbs of cherries in a harvest season.
The pulp is either a problem (Pollutes the rivers) or a gift to the land (Mulch) . I hope we are looking at a farmer who is seeing that red biomass as the gift that it is, (Pulp is 80% of the weight of the cherry. It takes five pounds of cherries to produce one pound of dry green coffee beans. In this next picture, the cherry pulp and skins are all red, which means that this farmer harvested only ripe cherries. His coffee will be sweet, with good acidity and flavor (if altitude, latitude, and farm practices were good too) We will receive our Nicaraguan coffees in June. For now they are “en reposa” or at rest in the warehouses at the various farmer cooperatives we purchase from. Raw coffees need about 60 days to mellow and have the 12 % moisture even itself out throughout the sacks so that roasting will produce an even color later on when we get our chance to be artisans in the roasting room.
Paul Katzeff : Text
Ernesto Somarriba : Photography