Some of you might remember our Nicaraguan single family lots, traceable farm lots that we offered from 2015 to 2018. Sadly, because grave mismanagement of our then export ally, we had to pull out and leave this country which we hold so dear – but it was when Arjan van der Hoek from Bean Brothers introduced ThisSideUp to Rina and René Paguaga that we regained hope. We were immediately drawn to their transparency, care for quality – but most of all, their integrity.
Vidita means “little life” in Spanish and is inspired by how 97 year old founder René senior used to call Rina’s and René’s mother, Carolina. Their third generation business used to sell all their production to “Big Coffee”, but when Rina got to experience firsthand what actually happened to their carefully harvested and well-nourished coffee, she was shocked: “they were really not paying attention to details. I said to myself: this coffee doesn’t represent my country, and we decided to do something about it.” Although their estate is more than 60 years old, it was not until 2007 that they became fully independent. Once they broke free, the results became palpable almost immediately when the coffee processed at their mill won several international recognitions and began selling as specialty coffee. “Nicaraguan coffee can be the best in the world,” says Rina, “and we really want to offer the best of what this country has to offer, and we believe we’re on the right path”.
Today, Santa Lucila dry mill and their brand Café Vidita is the heart of the operations of their family’s five estates and a gathering center for producers in the region. Besides providing good prices and fair wages for a region where it’s very difficult to make a living, the Paguaga family manages healthy ecosystems and a deeply studied production system. In light of the country’s history, it would have been much easier in their shoes to turn away from coffee production as many others did. Their commitment to it, even in the most extreme circumstances, is admirable to say the least.
Los Congos, Las Brumas, La Iguana, La Española, and La Portuguesa are all located in Nueva Segovia, a well know coffee region surrounded by communities that have long benefited from coffee. The Paguaga family runs five coffee estates in this region and even managed to protect the mountaintops of their properties, proclaiming them a natural reserve. Rina and René aim to make their estates a model for other farmers in the region to follow, and they do so with a systematic approach. Soil is carefully analysed, and rigorous nutrition plans for the trees are executed throughout the year. They truly work for healthy, happy estates.
At Santa Lucila dry mill, the lots from these estates come in and are cupped and classified into taste categories. They then leave it to the customers, in this case This Side Up, to ask for a certain signature profile. We decided to recreate the two flavours of the blends we used to have in our previous partnership, and it ‘s remarkable how closely the Rojo and Amarillo blends conform to our wishes.
Coffee is handpicked, measured, and de-pulped without water. Shortly after, it ferments in the tanks for 15 to 36 hours. It is then washed and transported to Santa Lucila Drymill, where it is processed until it reaches 11 degrees in humidity. Coffee is packed in 69 Kg. Knaff bags.