José Armando Pastrana Maradiaga
José Armando Pastrana was born and raised in Mozonte, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua a region located 26 km away from Ocotal with fertile and volcanic soils surrounded by virgin forests and privileged diversity of animal species. Due to these ideal characteristics of this region of Nicaragua, Mozonte’s main agricultural and economic activity is the production of coffee. Here too is the home of José's finca, San Vicente.
Although José Armando doesn’t come from a family of farm owners per se, they have nevertheless always been involved in its production. His father for instance was employed as caretaker at other farms in the region. So following in his father’s steps, José Armando busied himself taking care and managing the coffee plantations at various coffee farms for other farm owners. From this experience he was fortunate to be exposed to high-tier coffee production -- eventually inspiring him to start his very own coffee business. His first independent single-acre farm was acquired in 2012.
Since the very beginning, José Armando knew he wanted to plant traditional varieties that lend themselves favourably to the production of specialty coffee. Varieties that are perhaps more of a local heirloom, unique flavour characteristics, hardy, slow-growing -- but infinitely higher quality and more flavourful.
Though he was of course warned by many local farmers that these varieties, compared to a modern fast growing cultivar, were for instance "too difficult to manage", "low yielding" or "potentially prone to disease", he found much of the local lore was essentially unfounded, or at least able to be overcome.
He was afterall, now becoming highly experienced at speciality coffee production -- something, which amongst other things focuses on sustainably managing disease, through scientific pragmatism, education and experience.
He had at least sufficient experience to know that quality beats quantity in a post 3rd Wave coffee world. And speciality can help overcome the effects of climate change and coffee leaf rust. And his coffee is supreme -- with an 85.25 SCA score!
Today, he works together with his family towards a clear goal: producing high-quality coffee and improving their harvest every year. José Armando is proud to know that his coffee now crosses borders from li'l ol' Mozonte, reaches, and is prized by speciality roasteries and coffee lovers all around the world.
Overcoming Insurmountable Adversity
The next challenge for José unfortunately, has little to do with coffee -- sadly, it has to do with politics. Nicaragua is facing a crisis not seen there for 40 years since its (last) revolution against dictatorship in the late 70s, and since April 2018: a new rebellion against Ortega. As was seen post-revolution 1980s, Nicaragua's coffee (which employs 60% of the rural population, and is the nation's single most socio-economic product) production plummeted and ruined the country for decades.
The political unrest, though currently still restricted to urban areas, is slowly but surely reaching pastoral coffee-growing mountainous areas, with hunger, inability to supply coffee, or reach their farms for future harvests now having increasingly alarming effect. The future is unclear for Nicaraguan farmers like José, at present the best we can do is talk about the issue, and highlight the very real effect it is having on these producers, and provide financial support.
Finca San Vicente
Finca San Vicente Coffee Production
April - June
Dried 100% under shade on raised beds at Beneficio La Estrella
Fully washed on wooden tanks and traditionally fermented for 30 hours
EP (Screen 15+), SCA Special Grade.
Guaba, Musáceas, and Cedar trees