The Peralta family is based in Ocotal in the region of Nueva Segovia, and run by the “jack-of-all-trades” Julio and Octavio Peralta. The cousins and both their fathers manage several farms located in the region of Nueva Segovia, where the Dipilto-Jalapa mountain range separates Nicaragua and Honduras. During the civil war this was the stage of the fighting guerillas, but now the Nueva Segovia is the breeding ground for most of the Cup of Excellence winners in the last decade. Some of the Peralta farms are right on the border, making it possible to step straight onto the land of their Honduran neighbours. All of the finca’s have had a top ranking in the COE somewhere in the last 15 years. The farms harvest throughout December to April, especially in the higher altitude parts of the mountains, the harvest hits much later.
Nicaragua is interesting in terms of specialty production, as they use traditional methods for applying modern processing methods such as yellow & red honeys. All of the wet processing is done at the farms up in the mountains, but for drying the coffee bags are taken to a centralized Dry Mill. The climate changes drastically about an hour down the mountain, creating the right conditions for finalizing the post-harvest process. The farms are managed centrally from the Mill where the agronomist Edwin goes out to visit them each day of the week.
The Peralta’s have been with The Coffee Quest since the beginning, working on getting their Strictly High Grown and “farm plot” micro lots to the European market. The relation started several years back after co-founder Friso spend two full seasons working at the Peralta Mill in the North of Nicaragua. Friso was hired by Julio Peralta to help out with logistics at the Mill, but ended up receiving a full introduction to the “coffee lifestyle” as an Nicaraguan exporter. Daily interaction with everthing from harvest, wet processing, to drying and quality control. Especially the micro lot quality requiers many hands to get to an minimum of 85 scoring lots. The Peraltas were one of the first start with the production of micro lots, taking the knowledge from Guatemala and developing this towards the Nicaraguan context. Throughout the years we have seen micro lots coming into the assortment from all five farms; El Bosque, Santa Maria de Lourdes, Samaria, La Argentina and La Cascada. Over the next years we expect to continue the relationship and include an additional focus on the returning Classic, the SHG EP lot from El Bosque.
The Classic lot form El Bosque is chosen from the best patio washed lots coming in at the Dry Mill (Check out the video from all of the steps between harvest and export). The farm from Julio Peralta provides a excellent mix of caramel notes together with a soft sparkling acidity. The coffee is often used as “mild” option that works well on espresso and to improve the balance in blends. By focussing on the Stricty High Grown lot we add a more economic option, next to the lots from the Peralta micro lots. During peak months of the harvest, the pickers on the Peralta farms go out to pick only the most mature cherries for the micro lot program. The definition of micro lots in specialty coffee is often completely different between production countries. On the Peralta farms they see the micro lot as a small volume of coffee, picked on the same day from one specific farm plot. By using both the day and geograpical location, they put an emphasis on coffee varieties and presence of micro-climates. The natural separations, such as mountain side, small streams and forest areas are used to divide the sections. Starting at 1150 mts, you often find shaded, almost forest-like sections, while on the cooler top side of the mountain usage of shade is very limited. Different micro-climates can be found on each farm, with variations in temperature, wind and rain. Not to mention differences in soil composition between different areas. Altitude, shade and biodiversity has long-time been used in Nicaragua as natural protection for the coffee plants, mimicking the Ethiopian forests from where the coffee plant originates. Varieties perform different at different altitudes, for example, a Catuai can perform well on average altitudes of 1200 m.a.s.l., where a Bourbon plant is better protected against certain diseases at at least 1400 meters above sea level.
El Bosque is the beautiful farm from Julio Peralta in the Dipilto-Jalapa mountain range north of the small town of San Fernando. The finca is located close to the other Peralta farms; Santa Maria de Lourdes and Samaria. The coffee plants stretches out over 3 long hillsides, mixed in with native shade trees. The farm plot on the highest peak is named Las Nubes or “The Clouds”. From here you can look into the valley and on a clear day see everything from Honduras, the tabacco farms in the lower parts, to the oldest city in Nueva Segovia; Cuidad Antigua.
Julio was one of the first of the family to innovate on the wetmill equipment, making efficient use of the possibilities to process clean washed coffees and develop honey processing for the the micro lots. At this moment you can find a large variety of flavors coming from El Bosque. The farm has 42Ha of coffee and a staggering 112Ha of untouched mountain area, making the farm very rich in bio diversity. Maintaining this beautiful piece of nature is not only important for the flora and fauna but also to provides protection against erosion and keeping the soil healthy. The farm is certified Rainforest Alliance and grows Yellow Catuai, Red Catuai, Java and Caturra.
The view you get from the top of Santa Maria de Lourdes is spectacular. All throughout the farm you will find small streams of water, separating the farm plots. From the Peralta familiy farms Santa Maria is always the last one to finish harvesting all its coffee, starting in January and going on all the way up until April. This is because due to the altitude of 1300-1550 m.a.s.l., Santa Maria is the highest of all the Peralta farms. Due to the higher altitude a slower maturation takes place, creating more complexity in the cup. This is just one of the reasons Santa Maria de Lourdes was awarded Cup of Excellence top 25 placement several years in a row. Managed by Octavio Peralta, the farm has 32 Ha of coffee area and an additional 45 Ha of forest area, creating a good balance between agriculture and preservation of flora and fauna. Besides Caturra you will find Catuai, Tekisit, Red Bourbon and Java growing here. Experienced farm manager Don Arnoldo has indicated that initially Catuai growing here took 8 years to finally adapt to the local micro-climate and soils. Now it has adapted it is one of the favorite varieties used for coffees with good cup qualities.