Coffee of an excellent quality, and probably equal to any in the world, may also be produced indefinitely in this republic; but for the reason that hitherto it has been exceedingly difficult to get to market, it is not very extensively cultivated. If the attention of the people of Nicaragua should be seriously directed to the production of coffee, it would prove a source of great profit.
-From Nicaragua: its people, scenery, monuments, by E.G. Squier, 1851
Nearly 170 years after Mr. Squier wrote of the great potential for coffee production in Nicaragua. Squier believed in the potential for Nicaraguan coffee when the country’s entire annual production amounted to less than 1,000 bags. Although Squier wrote of visiting “plantations” in the 1840’s, they would have been quite small when coffee production aimed at export was only 14 years old. The “serious” commercial production he anticipated did not begin until the 1860’s, just a few years after an American named William Walker, generously described by some historians as an “adventurer,” was quickly disimbued of the mistaken notion that he ruled Nicaragua, an idea that would become a bad habit among Americans.
The Nicaraguan agricultural sector apparently agreed with the former U.S. Envoy, E.G. Squier. In 1875, coffee production reached 12,000 bags, then more than doubled in just five years, reaching 26,000 bags in 1880. By 1890 production had more than doubled again, to 64,000 bags. Production reached 151,000 bags by 1908 and nearly a quarter of a million bags by the end of World War I. Prior to the war, most Nicaraguan coffee was exported to France, but during and then after the war, as with the rest of Central American coffee, exports shifted to the United States.
Today, Nicaragua exports over 2 million bags of coffee from 126,000 hectares, approximately half of that going to the U.S. and Canada. Over 330,000 people in Nicaragua work in coffee, which is 15% of the labor market and more than 50% of the agricultural workforce. Surely, Squier could not have imagined any of this as he toured a country of 100,000 people producing less than 1,000 bags of coffee in the 1840’s.
But, in terms of specialty coffee, he might recognize the aspiration. The 25 years between Squier’s writing in 1851 and a significant increase in Nicaraguan coffee production in 1875 mirror the roughly 25 years coffee roasters have been looking to Nicaragua for greater volumes of specialty coffee. Even though Nicaragua was widely recognized as an emerging specialty origin only in the late 1990’s.
In addition to the seemingly ever-present political tensions, somewhat acute in recent years, Nicaragua’s specialty producers have faced coffee plant diseases and, of course, low prices. Political instability and leaf-rust are difficult to face at any time, but when international prices for coffee are extremely low, continuing is a hard sell.
A United Nations report in 2019 found that many farmers have decided to stop growing coffee and move on to crops with less price volatility. For those who decide to stay with coffee, quality improvements are a way forward to continued rural economic development.
Many small lot farmers are eager to learn about how adjustments in processing can improve quality. For many farmers, specialty is a new idea and a huge challenge, but they understand this is an opportunity, maybe the last opportunity, to continue growing coffee.
Whilst you're here are 6 reasons for making Clear Lake Coffee Roasters - CLCR - your go-to coffee roaster:
☕️ We are a local family-run business located in the heart of Clear Lake, Iowa.
☕️ We go to great lengths to find only the finest and ethically sourced coffee around, from the top 2% of coffee beans in the world.
☕️ We only source 100% certified Arabica coffee beans, carefully hand-selecting each coffee based on specific quality and taste attributes.
☕️ Our roasting process has been refined over the years and each roast profile is individually designed to complement the nuances of the coffee we source, from Cup of Excellence (COE) award-winning producers.
☕️ By roasting in smaller batches, we can ensure our coffee is ALWAYS fresh, in fact, we roast your coffee only after you place an order - the same day your order ships out.
☕️ At CLCR, we are dedicated to a single mission: the unyielding pursuit of coffee perfection in every cup.
We would give you more reasons, but rather than reading it's better if you visit our website, purchase a bag or two, and experience a unique caffeinated or half-caff journey for yourself 😊!
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One of USA Today's "Great American Beaches," - Clear Lake Iowa, City Park Beach, Summer 2020