Los Delirios Organic Nicaragua Pacamara Special Selection
- June 2017
- Written by : Michael Sheridan
Director of Sourcing and Shared Value / Green Coffee Buyer
“ The Canales family of Pueblo Nuevo is a Nicaraguan national treasure and a singular example of how pairing organic farming practices with a relentless focus on coffee quality can create economic, social and environmental value. ”
The family got its start in coffee back in 1958, when Don Pio Canales placed a bet on coffee and purchased a rambling farm in the hills above Pueblo Nuevo that he called Los Delirios. Over the past 35 years, his son Daniel and grandsons Milton, Norman and Donald have doubled down on coffee again and again, expanding the farm gradually through steady reinvestment of coffee earnings. Along the way, they have made Los Delirios a reference point for the country’s coffee sector and organic farmers everywhere.
The trajectory of the family’s story arc changed dramatically in 2004, when Daniel Canales became the first grower to win a Cup of Excellence competition with a certified organic coffee. We purchased that winning lot and have never looked back: 2017 marks the 14th straight year we have sourced coffee from Canales family farms.
Today, Los Delirios bears little resemblance to the farm Don Pio purchased nearly 60 years ago. Over the past 35 years, the farm has grown to nearly three times its original size--not so much a farm, perhaps, as a collection of small farms cobbled together around the core of the old estate. As the farm has grown, the family has created more employment opportunities for its neighbors, never losing the exacting focus on quality that helped it win that seminal 2004 COE competition. In fact, the Las Termópilas lot that the family bought in 1981 went on to earn COE honors the following year, in 2005, and again in 2007. The family’s commitment quality is visible today in its wet milling experimentation, its growing warren of shaded raised drying beds and its renovation with high-quality cultivars including Geisha and Pacamara.
But the Los Delirios story isn’t just about the economic success the Canales family has achieved through its relentless pursuit of coffee quality. It is also, importantly, a story of social and environmental impact.
The Canales family’s steady reinvestment in coffee production has followed a simple formula, turning pasture lands into havens of biodiversity--coffee-based agroforestry systems that are sequestering carbon, regulating the water cycle, creating a natural habitat for flora and fauna--that also produce delicious organic coffee.
It would be hard to imagine a lush coffee forest like the one at Las Termópilas was a barren cow pasture a generation ago. Hard, that is, if it weren’t for the fact that it borders a cow pasture that is currently being reforested and incorporated into the Las Termópilas coffee system. The landscape photos here, taken from the same vantage point facing in opposite directions, deliver a dramatic “before” and “after” perspective on how fundamentally the Canales family has transformed the landscapes around the original Los Delirios farm over the past generation. In the process, they have generated employment opportunities and environmental benefits for their neighbors and delicious coffee for Intelligentsia and our guests.
It is worth noting that the Canales family has been stubbornly resistant to disease-resistant Catimor or Sarchimor cultivars. Los Delirios is planted entirely Bourbon, Caturra and Typica, with a recent effort toward varietal diversification and separation that has introduced Geisha, Mundo Novo, Pacamara and Pacas to the mix. This irrepressibly sweet single-variety lot of Pacamara comes from the Ojo de Agua section of the original Los Delirios farm, and delivers flavors of dried fig, strawberry and sweet herbs.