Santa Maria de Lourdes is located in the municipality of San Fernando and the farm is around 24 kilometres from the region’s capital Ocotal. Situated in the Nueva Segovia region at altitudes ranging from 1350 to 1550 metres above sea level, Santa Maria de Lourdes embodies a diverse range of luscious vegetation and wildlife brought about by high levels of annual rainfall.
The 80 hectares of natural mountainous forest has been under the management of Octavio Peralta since 1994, whose aim was to restore exceptional coffee production to this relatively wild area. Octavio has been dedicated to this cause as well as preserving the natural habitat which is recognised as a main factor in the production of his fantastic coffee. Of the 80 hectares of available arable land, 40 have been set aside for the sole purpose of maintaining and improving the natural habitat.
The farm has achieved Rainforest Alliance certification in recognition of this decision and contributes towards the on-going conservation of the surrounding area.
The varietals found here include Caturra and Catuai as well as the Nicaraguan heirloom varietal known as Java. Octavio was extremely keen to get involved with experimental processing and the batch we have acquired is natural processed micro-lot. Hand-picked cherries are put through a water siphon and then manually inspected in order to separate any defected beans. Once the fully ripe cherries have been selected, they are taken to the San Ignacio dry mill to undergo a very slow drying process to encourage full enzymatic fermentation.
Raised drying beds with partial shade cover are used and no cherries are turned over in the first day of the drying process. Then, the fermenting cherries are systematically turned over every two hours during the higher temperatures (from 11am to 3pm) of each day. The cherries are then covered in the late afternoon/early evening and left undercover throughout the night until the sun rises again the next day when the drying process begins again. The target for the total drying time of these lots is 20-24 days and once completed, the cherries are milled to remove the fruit and parchment surrounding the beans which are then vacuum packed into 34.5kg packs.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this coffee. Today we’re sipping the Nicaragua Santa Maria de Lourdes, from Coffee Mojo in Wicklow, Ireland. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: San Fernando, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua
farm/factory: Santa Maria de Lourdes
producer: Octavio Jose Peralta Paguaga
elevation: 1350 – 1550 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Catuai, Java
certifications: Rainforest Alliance
Opening the bag of Santa Maria de Lourdes unleashes a frenzy of bright, lively aromas that erupt out of the bag and bounce off the kitchen walls. Tropical fruits, vanilla cream, and floral aromatics blossom out of the cup and completely bombard the nose.
Jumping into the first few sips of the cup and, again, my senses are completely overwhelmed by the flavors this coffee is throwing at my palate. A light coating of creamy vanilla and butterscotch spills over the tongue first, ushering in lighter, brighter flavors of flowers and tropical fruit punch. There’s also a faint woodsy/earthiness and some spice present up front (which is fairly indicative of Nicaraguan coffee), but it’s hardly noticeable.
When it cools… oh, boy. Somebody should have put a warning label on the package. An explosion of bright, lively, and incredibly juicy tropical fruits erupts onto my palate; massive flavors of papaya, mango, starfruit, raspberry, melon, grapefruit, guava, pineapple, kiwi, and tamarind flood my taste buds and leave behind a clean finish that only makes me want another sip.
Light body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
Never have I ever had such a wild, unbridled coffee from Nicaragua. This is a coffee that came smashing through a brick wall and exclaiming “OH YEAH!” The Nicaragua Santa Maria de Lourdes, from Coffee Mojo, is a medley of bright and lively tropical fruits; it is a bowl of fruit punch at a rave party; it is the hat on Carmen Miranda’s head; it is a herd of wild horses galloping rampantly all over the palate.
For an extremely bright and lively coffee, though, it has a tremendous balance to it, thanks to its vanilla and butterscotch flavors that tether it to the ground. And it’s those heavier bottom notes that make me think this naturally-processed Nicaragua would be absolutely baller as a single origin espresso.
To be sure, the Santa Maria de Lourdes still has some of the prototypical Nicaraguan coffee elements that come through (like its woodsy earthiness), it pales in comparison to the liveliness of its juicy tropical fruit forwardness. Incredible coffee.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.