Benefiico Las Segovias is a dry mill, focused on specialty coffee and working with over 200 farms in the Nueva Segovia region. The mill is located in the town of Ocotal and owned and managed by Luis Balladeras Moncada. Luis also owns and manages some of his own coffee farms. Our tour began with an introduction to Luis. A second generation coffee man, Luis passionate about producing excellent coffee and supporting the farmers and coffee community he works with. You could easily tell Luis had a genuine care for the future of Nicarguan coffee and the local farmers. In 2010 he donated the entire proceeds from his Cup of Excellence winning coffee to a housing project in Ocotal.
The mill is also surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges creating an extremely picturesque backdrop to the drying coffee. Throughout the mill the washed coffees are dried on a mixture of concrete patios and on a black breathable hard mesh fabric. With the exception of the natural coffees, washing and pulping is carried out by the farmers at their farms, before delivering the parchment to the Beneficio. It is arranged on the patios in special micro lots and in relation to varieties and qualities, and is then sundried on the patios in anytime from 3-10 days.
At one end of the mill they have African Raised Beds where they handle small lots of natural, semi-washed and honey processed coffees. These can be dried for up to 14 days. They are particularly excited about the work and results they are getting with their natural coffees. There is a lot of experimentation taking place with different varieties and processing methods.
The warehouses are fairly large and house all their sorting and grading machines. The machines are able to separate any foreign matter, identify defects and distinguish sizes. There are also two colour sorting machines to identify defective beans by colour variations with the use of a high speed camera. Once identified the machines use a jet of air to remove them. The warehouse also houses the various micro-lots of the farms they represent.
Las Segovias also organise the shipping of all the Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence winners, so they are well equipped with facilities to vacuum pack the coffee and send in cartons. Other micro-lots such as the coffee we have purchased from La Esperanza are also shipped this way.
The main office building also houses the cupping and lab facility on the second floor. This room is beautifully set-up, and offers views of the whole property and the surrounding countryside. They have 3 large cupping tables, a 2 barrell probat sample roaster, a 3 barrell gothot and a beautiful La Marzocco for the espresso lovers. So far most of the coffee growing countries I’ve visited have been the hardest places to find a nice espresso coffee, so we appreciated the set-up we had here.
We spent a few days here over the week cupping over 50 coffees from different farms, and different varieties and process. Personally we were looking for coffees we could utilise as a single origin and also one we might be able to utilise in an espresso blend. All of the coffees were cupped and scored blind. Everything we cupped fell in to the specialty range of mid to high 80’s, but from the cupping’s, Joe, Agim and myself selected two coffees which we thought stood out and were interested in working with. Both were washed caturra coffees, and the farms we selected were both in the Dipilto region near the Honduras border. Both were previous Cup of Excellence winners and we had the opportunity to visit both farms and learn more about them over the next couple of days.
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