Our coffee and espresso beans come from a 6th generation family-owned and operated coffee farm called Selva Negra Estate located in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. This shade-grown, organic coffee farm is located in the mountains of the Black Forest at an altitude of 4,000 feet. Aside from being a model sustainable, Rainforest Alliance certified farm, Selva Negra Estate received a national quality award along with the highest bid out of all the coffee in Nicaragua at the Q Auction. The farm is currently run by Mausi Hayn and her husband Eddy Kűhl. Their families are of German and Nicaraguan descent.
The coffee tree varietals grown on Selva Negra Estate include Bourbon, Caturra and Arabica. Shade-grown coffee is typically produced at a high altitude under a canopy of trees that help filter carbon dioxide and minimize soil erosion. No chemical fertilizers are used and the trees help create an exotic bird habitat and greater biodiversity. The coffee cherries on shade-grown coffee trees take more time to develop resulting in a denser and more flavorful coffee bean. Around 30,000 new coffee trees are added to the farm each year. Coffee beans, in parchment form, are planted in small planters in green houses and grown into seedlings. Once they are the appropriate size, they are planted throughout the farm. From that point, it will take 3-4 years before the trees start producing coffee cherries.
Coffee cherries are initially a bright green color and then turn dark red as they ripen. Harvest takes place between November and February and initially the cherries are hand-picked off the trees by workers that live on the farm. Once the season is in full swing, additional local workers are brought in to help get all the cherries picked in time. The pickers work from 6am until 2pm and are paid by the weight of the coffee cherries. A good picker can pick 6-9 baskets per day. The coffee cherries are weighed, loaded onto a truck and then delivered to the wet mill.
Coffee cherries are received daily at the wet mill during harvest season. They initially are put through a de-pulper where the coffee skins or “pulps” are removed. These skins are then decomposed and used to create fertilizer at the worm farm on the property. After being separated from the pulps, the coffee beans go through a quality sorter where the denser, higher-quality beans sink to the bottom and are directed to a fermentation bin. Lighter beans are re-directed to the second fermentation bin. All of the water used during fermentation, known as “honey water”, is recycled after going through a bio-digester used to create methane gas to generate energy in the staff kitchen and the remaining clean water filters through ponds and is then used to pasteurize the land.
After fermentation, the coffee beans are sent to the dry mill where they are placed on covered drying patios for around 30 days. Once the beans are dry, the mill removes the outermost parchment layer and most of the silverskin from coffee bean. The parchment is collected and used as an energy source for the worker’s kitchen. The beans are then put through a mechanical sorter that once again sorts the beans based on weight and density. During the final sorting process, every bean is hand sorted before any coffee is exported. The beans are divided into 150 lbs., hand-printed bags based on bean density and quality. Export coffee is referred to as “Oro”. The coffee beans are then shipped to Atlanta to be roasted to perfection by Mausi and Eddy’s daughter and son-in-law, Heddy and Steve, at Beanealogy.
Selva Negra Estate houses and employs around 300 workers and their families. It is a fully functioning community with a school, farm, clinic, church and restaurant. There is also an Ecolodge on the property where visitors can stay and take tours around the farm to learn more about coffee production.
Ciao for Now is the only restaurant and café in New York City who sells coffee from Selva Negra Estate.
Our staff recently visited Selva Negra Estate in Matagalpa, Nicaragua to get hands on with everyone’s favorite morning beverage. Check out our video tour!