INTELLIGENTSIA - Free shipping on all US Consumer orders over $40

The Canales family began growing coffee in a quiet valley in northern Nicaragua in 1958. Since then, the family has tripled the size of its Los Delirios farm, steadily purchasing surrounding pastures and converting them to shaded organic coffee groves. Daniel Canales, the second generation owner of Los Delirios, won the top prize at the 2004 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence. His three boys, Milton, Norman, and Donal, have continued the tradition, investing mightily in improvements in post-harvest processing to increase quality. Milton grew this lot in the remote Los Monos section of the farm and dried it in the shade at his new dry mill.
  • SKU Nicaragua Flor Azul
  • Country Nicaragua
  • Region within Country Pueblo Nuevo, Estelí
  • Elevation 1450 m
  • Farm Los Delirios
  • Buyer Michael Sheridan
  • In Season Yes
  • Direct Trade Yes
  • Single Origin Yes
  • USDA organic Yes
  • Harvest Year 2019
Direct Trade 1
Single Origin 1
In Season 1
USDA organic 1
CitrusAppleGrape

Nicaragua Flor Azul

In the summer of 1987, I was 15 years old and doing things that are common for many 15-year-old boys, mostly playing baseball and hanging out with friends. Then I started doing something comparatively uncommon for 15-year-old boys: watching C-SPAN. Compulsively.

It was the summer of the Iran-Contra Hearings. Reagan administration officials were being questioned by members of Congress and interrogated by prosecutors for their roles an elaborate plan to evade congressional prohibitions on arms sales to Iran and funding for a counterrevolutionary organization in Nicaragua. They did both secretly, and used proceeds from the former for the purposes of the latter. It was riveting drama, but while the hearings focused on whether U.S. laws were broken, I found myself most curious about Nicaragua and the civil war still raging there, which seemed little more than an afterthought in the coverage of events and in the hearings themselves. I had no way to know at the time what a big role that small and curious country would play in my life.

Six years later, I chose to write my undergraduate thesis on U.S. foreign policy in Nicaragua. In defending it before my professors and classmates, I suggested that U.S. citizens owed a debt to Nicaragua for the death and destruction caused by the illegal actions of the Iran-Contra affair. The notion may have been naïve and idealistic, but it was sincere: two years later I found myself on a plane to Managua, leaving the country for the first time for a year of volunteer work that took me to a coffee community in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. It was a year that changed the trajectory of my life.

It didn’t take long for me to be hooked on the idea of working overseas, although it did take me a while to get the credentials I needed to become an international development professional. Once I did, my work took me back to Nicaragua again and again.

From 2004 to 2007, I traveled to Nicaragua frequently as part of a project designed to help smallholder coffee farmer organizations gain access to the U.S. specialty market. From 2008 to 2011, I led a regional coffee project in Central America that took me to Nicaragua regularly to work with other smallholder groups there. And since 2017, I have been making annual visits as Intelligentsia’s Green Coffee Buyer for Nicaragua.

It has been nearly 25 years since I first traveled to Nicaragua. I have lived or worked there under four different governments, and I have never seen the situation there as precarious as it is today after a year of violence that claimed hundreds of lives, a sustained campaign to suppress dissent, and an institutional crisis that has brought the government to the brink of collapse. Implausibly, I returned from my most recent sourcing trip feeling optimistic about the country’s future. Perhaps it is because I spent the entire time with the Canales family, which has been growing coffee since the 1950s, quietly creating economic opportunity, conserving natural resources, and growing exceptional coffee even through periods of dictatorship, revolution, counterrevolution, and constitutional crisis.

In 1958, Pio Canales purchased a modest farm called Los Delirios in the hills above the sleepy mountain town of Pueblo Nuevo where he raised cattle and grew coffee. His son and grandsons are still working the farm, and still raising some cattle. But they have gone all in on coffee, and represent one of the most compelling stories of coffee-driven growth in our entire Direct Trade network.

For decades, the family has been turning today’s success into tomorrow’s through a virtuous cycle of reinvestment in coffee. Season after season, the family has used the profits from its coffee sales to expand its operations. In many cases, this has involved the purchase of pastureland around the edges of its coffee farm, which it converts to organic coffee forests through a patient process that takes the better part of 10 years.

First, the family plants shade trees in a low-density pattern, 20 meters by 20 meters for trees with a large canopy, 10 x 10 for smaller ones, with other smaller species scattered throughout the plot. Four or five years on, they plant coffee, which in turn will reach full production in other four or five years.

This process of expansion and reclamation of degraded land has accelerated since Pio’s son Daniel Canales won top honors at Nicaragua’s 2004 Cup of Excellence competition with the first lot of certified organic coffee to ever achieve that feat. We purchased some of that winning lot, and have built our Nicaragua sourcing program around its farm ever since, 15 years and counting.

Today, Los Delirios is more than three times the size of the original farm purchased by Don Pio, no longer a single farm but rather a family of contiguous farms run by Don Daniel and his three sons, Milton, Norman, and Donal.

Even by the lofty standards of its extraordinary three-generation trajectory in coffee, 2018 was a landmark year for the Canales family. It purchased a dry mill in Pueblo Nuevo and two massive drying facilities, which it outfitted with a vast array of different drying technologies: patios for sun-drying, patios with different degrees of shading, and raised beds arrayed in different configurations in full sun and in every grade of shade available. The initiative was, in some sense, nothing out of the ordinary, merely an extension of the family’s long-standing tradition of reinvestment to expand its coffee business. But it is extraordinary in this regard: it closes the circle, giving the Canales family complete control over every aspect of its coffee operations from the nursery where the family plants new seed to the port where its coffees are loaded for delivery to Intelligentsia.

We worked closely with the Canales crew over the past year as part of this transition, helping them to create new post-harvest processing protocols that position them to maximize quality and position us to effectively evaluate the impact of their new facilities and new technologies on cup quality. The results of all that effort are evident in this lot, which was shade-grown on the remote Los Monos section of the farm and shade-dried at the family’s new dry mill. It reminds us of applesauce, raisin, and Meyer lemon.

Coffee Credits

Adela Maradiaga
Alva Nuvia Martínez
Ana Meneces
Ana Yelsi Martínez
Ana Yeska Quintero
Anielka Velásquez
Arnulfo Morán
Avigaíl Díaz
Ávner Izaguirre
Azucena Morán
Carlos Montano
Claudia Vásquez
Christiam Sánchez
Dénis Rodríguez
Dominga Jiménez
Dora Rodríguez
Elías Díaz
Elvira Hoyes
Felícita Velásquez
Fernando Morán
Francis Sánchez
Francisca Espinoza
Francisco Jiménez
Glenda Méndez
Hernaldo Izaguirre
Irma Olivas
Ilza Izaguirre
Isidro Sánchez
Jáder Ordóñez
Jáder Alvarado
Jaime Morán
Jarvin Martínez
Jarys Ordóñez
Jefry Olivas
Jexy Vanegas
Jirlania Martínez
Joaquín López
Jorge Méndez
Juan Pineda
Juan Simón Olivas
Katerín Martínez
Keylin Moreno
Leonor Maradiaga
Lorena Zavala
Lorena López
Lisandro Tórrez
Manuel Castellón
Manuel Martínez
Margarita Alvarado
María Castro
Marlin Izaguirre
Marvin Tórrez
Mável López
Melvin Quintero
Melvin Aráuz
Melvin Ramírez
Meylin Martínez
Milton Ordóñez
Nelva Díaz
Nereyda López
Norma Sánchez
Pablo Martínez
Paula Ordóñez
Ramón Velásquez
Ramón Pérez
Samir Vanegas
Samuel Méndez
Sandra Sánchez
Santiago Méndez
Santos Pérez
Seydi Martínez
Silvio Martínez
Teresa Tórrez
Vicente López
Victoria Gutiérrez
Virginia Zavala
Wilson Martínez
Yadira Zavala
Yelsin Huete
Yeltin Sánchez

Espresso

Espresso

All home and commercial espresso machines.

Turkish Grind

Turkish Grind

If you need a little bit coarser grind for your espresso machine or utilize this favorite preparation in eastern Europe.

Stovetop Espresso

Stovetop Espresso

Moka pots and stovetop espresso kettles need a very fine grind.

Cone Filter - Paper

Cone Filter - Paper

Most automatic and electric brewers utilize this grind setting.

Cone Filter - Gold

Cone Filter - Gold

Automatic brewers with reusable mesh filters, or a Kone manual brewing insert.

Universal

Universal

If you're buying for a friend, or are just not sure - this is a good grind for most drip brewers.

Technivorm

Technivorm

We found this excellent automatic brewer needed a bit coarser grind than other cone filter brewers.

Vacuum Brewer

Vacuum Brewer

For those with an electric or flame-heated vacuum brewer.

Flat Bottom - Paper

Flat Bottom - Paper

Any basket-style brewer, including automatic and Kalita wave manual brewing.

Flat Bottom - Gold

Flat Bottom - Gold

For automatic brewers with basket-style reusable filters.

French Press

Hario Dripper

Manual pourover cone brewing is a simple, no frills way of brewing.

Grind Type

French Press

A classic of immersion brewing. Select this grind for perfect classical preparation.

Chemex

Chemex

The iconic Chemex, this grind provides a perfectly paired offering for the special filters made for this brewer.

Percolator

Percolator

Our coarsest grind, this also provides a good pre-ground solution for cold brew at home.

Whole Bean

Whole Bean

For those with a grinder at home, we love freshly ground coffee! We prefer burr grinders for a more even brew.