Four years ago Las Nubes bought their own dry mill and warehouse, which also houses offices and the all-essential cupping lab. A better, brand-spanking new facility would be hard to find anywhere in the Coffee World. There is some serious investment in new kit here and the payoff for us is surely massive peace of mind that we are going to be getting very high quality beans. (You can see all the shiny new toys for yourself in the video clip below of our Coffee Origin Road Trip Nicaragua Las Nubes)
Everything has been planned and considered very carefully, just as you would expect from a Coffee Farmer & Architect team. Even the drying patios are laid out with the comfort of the workers and the beans in mind. The black tarpaulins are springy to the step, due to them being stretched over layers of spare parchment from the milling process. This genius idea means that the beans benefit from a little more air circulation from underneath them, whilst for those raking the beans, in the often searing heat, there will be less muscle fatigue and better productivity. It also means that we are far less likely to find bits of patio in the sacks, as we do very occasionally and, of course, far less likely to find damaged beans, that have been practically scorched on some of the hotter drying patios that can rise to such oven=like temperatures that they would be better suited to griddling Lolita's Tortillas!
Victor and Jimmy are both very focussed on quality and quite open to developing new processes such as naturals and all types of honey. Each estate's coffee is wet-milled at their own estate and then transported in wet parchment to the Dry Mill in Matagalpa. All the coffee is sun-dried in various stages, from 100% sun to different levels of shade, they are then milled and packed on site, keeping the whole process in-house to ensure absolute quality control every step of the way.
Seeing such high levels of investment in all areas of the Las Nubes business is highly encouraging and inspires great confidence in the whole enterprise and the ultimate quality of the final product. What Victor has achieved here is truly remarkable. His emphasis on quality will do wonders in the future to make Nicaragua really stand out as a progressive Single Origin.
I would love to see a 'before and after' of the state he found the farm in after its confiscation. It must have been truly devastating. It's not just the physical improvements to all the buildings and milling facilities that are evident across the entire operation, it's also the investment he has made in the human capital. The coffee families, dependent on the success of Las Nubes, must feel in a better place right now than they have done for generations. Victor's father would have been proud of him...