Nicaragua Study Tour: Managua to Matagalpa

James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D
Bridgewater State College

Day 9: January 11, 2006
Revised January 16, 2006
Click to enlarge

January 3
Overnight Managua
January 4
January 5
January 6
January 7
La Corona
January 8
La Corona
January 9
January 10
January 11
Finca Esperanza Verde
January 12
Finca Esperanza Verde
January 13
In the morning, we visited a large-scale farm owned by its workers, and met with leaders of the Association of Coffee Workers (ATC), which is a coalition of such cooperative farms and the unions representing farmers on traditional haciendas. It was there that we learned first-hand about the incredible actions taken by Matagalpa's coffee growers during the most recent Coffee Crisis. (Read a brief account on NicaNet.)

Paul Katzeff
Following that very informative visit, we visited Sol Cafe, the coffee processing plant for CECOCAFEN members. There we had a tour of the dry-processing operation and a demonstration of cupping. Our incredible luck continued, for we arrived at the cupping laboratory just in time for the end of Paul Katzeff's annual coffee-buying trip. Mr. Katzeff is a legend in the coffee business, having founded both Thanksgiving Coffee and the Specialty Coffee Association. He was the first to bring cupping technology to the farmers, and he once sued the Reagan Administration to help end its blockade of Nicaragua.

Mr. Katzeff continues to be active in promoting social justice in Nicaragua and elsewhere in coffee-growing lands. It was an amazing privilege for us to hear his story first-hand, and to learn about cupping directly from this master.

Cupping is simply a ritual for tasting and testing coffee; it has long been part of the coffee business. Mr. Katzeff 's innovation was to ensure that this expertise was in the hands of both buyers and sellers of coffee. With better information about the quality of their product, sellers can both demand a fairer price and continuously improve their product.

Sol Cafe is a very advanced (ISO 9001 certified) cupping lab in Matagalpa ; CECOCAFEN also operates smaller labs in three locations closer to the growers.

The dry process ...

We then departed for Finca Esperanza Verde (Green Hope Farm), a retreat with coffee, waterfalls, rainforest walks, and a butterfly house.

If this page interests you, you may wish to visit my other international travel pages or the international section of my home page.