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 neighbors. 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 everything from harvest, wet processing, to drying and quality control. Especially the micro lot quality requires 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 below 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 focusing 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 geographical 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.