FROM THE FARM: NICARAGUA FINCA LAS BRISAS
Hugh Force was riding his bike through a thick fog in the countryside that sits 3600+ feet above Matagalpa, Nicaragua when he came across a nearly abandoned farm. Hugh and his wife, Katherine visited Nicaragua years earlier and always dreamt of returning, so this was just the sort of happenstance to inspire them to uproot their lives and buy the property. They named it “Finca Las Brisas”, after the mists that blanket the Cerro Apante Nature Reserve where the farm is located, and just like that, became coffee farmers.
Finca Las Brisas was in pretty bad shape when the couple moved in. Devastated by Hurricane Mitch seven years earlier, plants were either weak, dead, or missing completely. With the advice of coffee experts and help from the community, they were able to recuperate the land. They have been gradually increasing the quantity of coffee plants by restoring plants in existing areas and reclaiming some of the surrounding land for new plants.
Over time, they’ve expanded the area dedicated to coffee from 10 to 20 acres. The rest of the 120-acre farm supports a small dairy herd that produces milk and cheese for the surrounding communities. The coffee and dairy complement each other in a symbiotic relationship where the plants provide the cows fruit that is stripped off of the coffee cherries, and the cows fertilize the plants. This is just one example of how Hugh and Katherine live and operate.
The couple takes a holistic approach with every aspect of their farm, from the soil it is grown in, to the people who help farm it. Closed-loop agriculture in its very essence. All their coffee is grown under the shade of banana, guava, orange, lemon and other nitrogen-fixing trees. In addition to the shade they provide, decomposing organic matter from these trees continues to improve and enrich the content of the soil. Migratory birds also find sanctuary in the trees. Picked coffee is processed using a bicycle powered depulper. Water that is used in processing conventional coffee is filtered through sequentially cleaner treatment ponds, while the pulp is converted into organic fertilizer. The 12 full time employees that work the land are also neighbors who live within walking distance of the farm; Hugh and Katherine have coffee with them every morning while giving out work assignments and reviewing completed work. They are part of the community and the community is a part of them.
Read more about the limited supply microlot we sourced from Finca Las Brisas here
Our From the Farm series features the stories behind each of our coffees. When Robbie Roberts, founded Joe Van Gogh, it was his goal to get to the source of the coffee he would be serving; to get to know the farmer, the co-op, the mill, the importer.
As an extension of that vision, we believe the process – from farm to cup – is all-inclusive and personal to everyone along the supply chain, right up to the coffee drinker.
It is our mission to foster a community in and around great coffee. That is why we want to share the stories behind each of our coffees. Because ultimately, coffee is about community.