Nicaragua was a major coffee producer up until the 1970s when natural disasters and political strife disrupted their thriving coffee industry. Only recently have they begun to re-establish themselves among the world’s coffee elites.
Sandwiched between Honduras and Costa Rica near the bottom of Central America, Nicaragua sits on a narrow strip of land just 300 miles wide with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. There are three distinct growing regions:
Nicaragua also is home to the largest coffee bean in the world: Maragogipe or elephant beans. These beans are nearly double the size of typical Arabica beans and the plants can withstand cooler temperatures at lower elevations. Unfortunately, Maragogipe plants have low yields, which doesn’t make them suitable for mass production, and are challenging to roast due to their large pore sizes. The beans they produce are highly variable depending on the soil and myriad other factors, often producing a thin, mediocre cup.
But don’t judge Peruvian coffee based just off Maragogipe. Most beans grown in the country are relatively high-quality and produce coffees that are medium-bodied with bright citrus notes that sometimes resemble quality African Arabicas instead of the nuttiness common among their geographical neighbors.