Cappuccino at Cafe Barista in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
The coffee harvest takes place from December to February each year, but the coffee growers are applying for Kiva loans now, to cover the cost of fertilizer, salaries for workers, and other supplies.
As a Kiva Fellow with MiCredito in Esteli, Nicaragua, I decided to learn as much as I could about coffee. To do that, I followed three different paths:
- One was to visit Leonardo, a coffee grower, who lives up in the mountains near Yali.
- The other was to take a tour of PRODECOOP, a cooperative of 2,000 coffee growing families, in the town of Palacaguina.
- And lastly, I attended a Coffee Fair in Ocotal, the last town before the Honduran border.
It all starts with the coffee berries, which will eventually ripen to red and yellow, then be harvested by hand and de-pulped.
The coffee beans are laid out in the sun on concrete to dry, and raked to keep from burning.
To reach Leonardo's farm, I spent two hours on a motorcycle, and then changed to a horse, in order to reach his coffee plantation, shaded by banana trees, and grown on the steep mountain-side.
To reach PRODECOOP, all of us at MiCredito, piled into our truck, three in front, and three of us in the bed, for the hour drive.
Leonardo's coffee processing facility.
PRODECOOP's coffee processing facility. They handle conventional, organic, and fair trade coffee.
Leonardo sifts his coffee beans by hand to remove broken ones.
PRODECOOP has a machine that shakes out the broken beans.
Leonardo sorts his coffee beans; black ones are the lowest quality, white ones are the best.
PRODECOOP has a machine that sorts coffee beans using fiber optics to identify the color.
Leonardo's "cupping room" for tasting coffee (also his family's kitchen).
PRODECOOP's cupping room. MiCredito Kiva Coordinator, Cindy, giving it a try.
Kiva Fellow, Karen, enjoying a cup of Leonardo's coffee.
In April, MiCredito had a booth at the Feria de Cafe or Coffee Fair in Ocotal, to promote loans for small coffee growers.
At the fair, I met Carlos, the 2011 Nicaraguan Barista Champion, and his students from the Escuela de Cafe or School of Coffee. The students are baristas-in-training, and were excited to serve me something special on a very hot day; a cold banana, chocolate, espresso rum drink. Ahhh
Sales of Nicaraguan coffee beans to the U.S., Europe and Venezuela generated $154 million dollars in the first five months of 2010-2011 (October – February). That is double last year’s earnings. Nicaragua exported 753 mil quintales (quintal = 100 lbs) of cafe. The average price received for a quintal of coffee was $204 dollars, or $2 a pound.
Lend Now to Nicaraguan Coffee Growers!
Here is a list of Kiva MiCredito borrowers who are coffee growers.
Danilo, Manuel, Salomon, Jesus, Maryuri, Jose
If these loans are already funded, keep checking back, Cindy at MiCredito will be uploading more. You can find them here.
- Karen Gray, KF14, Nicaragua