Throughout history agriculture has been a large part of Nicaragua's economy. The nation receives a substantial part of its gross domestic product from the export of agricultural items such as sugar cane and pineapple. Nothing, however, can compare to the economic value of coffee, which is responsible for more than one-fifth of Nicaragua's annual exports.Although plenty of coffee gets roasted and shipped overseas, the national staple is also popular among residents. Best of all, it is incredibly affordable.
Whether you want to taste a variety of excellent coffee types that are grown, picked, roasted and ground in the same location or you want to tour extensive commercial coffee farms, you will find it all in the java-lover's paradise of Nicaragua.
History of Coffee Growth in Nicaragua
To grow coffee correctly, there needs to be a very specific environment. A tropical climate is a prerequisite, because most coffee trees can't handle temperatures below zero.
In addition, the best coffee is grown in places where the temperatures are not too hot, which means that higher elevations are best. In Nicaragua, both conditions are met in Jinotega and Matagalpa among others, which are renowned for their exceptional coffee beans.
In 1850s, farmers began to take advantage of these ideal conditions to grow coffee in Nicaragua on a large scale. Immediately, it became evident that the volcanic soil contributed to better beans and a richer flavor.
By 1891, more than 11 million pounds of coffee was being produced annually in Nicaragua, and growth has continued in the century since.
Significance of Coffee for the Local Economy
While some of the coffee grown in Nicaragua is consumed by locals, the overwhelming majority is exported to countries around the world. In some instances, coffee is sold for cash, helping to put money into the local economy and give farmers the financial compensation they deserve.
There are also other arrangements, such as the deal recently brokered with Venezuela, where coffee is traded for things oil and other necessities. As Nicaragua's most significant export, there is no question that coffee plays a major role in the development, infrastructure and economy in the country.
Sip Coffee Like a Local
If you're used to drinking strong espresso, the local way to drink coffee in Nicaragua might surprise you. Rather than having a single strong drink in the morning, it is not unusual to sip on coffee throughout the day.
However, the typical coffee beverages on offer in Nicaragua are quite weak, watery and very sweet. If you don't want the added sweetness, order a café negro, or black coffee.
Touring Coffee Farms in Nicaragua
One of the most exciting things to do in Nicaragua if you are a coffee lover is to see how coffee is grown and roasted in person. Hacienda El Progreso, for example, began cultivating coffee on the side of Mombacho Volcano as far back as the 19th century.
Today, they offer tours where visitors can see coffee growing right on the tree, learn more about how it is harvested, see the beans fermenting, watch the beans dry out in the sun, admire the fragrant roasting process and then enjoy a freshly brewed cup. Of course, you'll also want to buy some affordable whole beans to take home as a souvenir.
If you love coffee, then you'll almost certainly love Nicaragua. Home to some of the world's best coffee, Nicaragua offers affordable java, a variety of scenic farms to explore and a rich heritage of coffee growth.