San José Farm, owned and operated by Eduardo Altamirano and his family, is situated in the Santa Isabel community within the Municipality of Jinotega in northern Nicaragua. Positioned in the renowned coffee capital of Nicaragua, the farm was established upon a universal passion for coffee, family, and community, values that continue to flourish to this day.
Getting to Know Eduardo Altamirano
Eduardo grew up in a large family of brothers. He pursued agronomy studies in school but had to halt his academic education due to family financial constraints. Following his father's passing in 1992, Eduardo's eldest brother took on the responsibility of caring for the family and the family farm. He worked tirelessly to provide for each sibling, including Eduardo, ensuring they had a solid foundation and shared in their father Manuel's legacy.
The History of San José Farm
San José Farm sprang from a dream initially harbored by Eduardo's father, which remained unfulfilled. In 1997, Eduardo Altamirano and his wife, Iveth Rizo, purchased San José Farm. In the beginning, managing such an endeavor was a considerable challenge, given Eduardo's limited knowledge in the coffee growing field. Eduardo and his wife were young newlyweds, and their small farm consisted solely of a rustic wooden house without electricity, running water, or profitability. Notwithstanding the difficulties, Eduardo and Iveth persevered, drawing on their dreams, love, patience, faith, and youthful enthusiasm.
Their inaugural coffee harvest in 1997-98 amounted to a modest 30 bags of coffee. The subsequent harvest increased to 40 bags. Amidst raising a family, they labored relentlessly, made sacrifices, and found joy in working together on the farm. Gradually, the young family acquired more land by purchasing a few small adjoining lots, ultimately expanding their farm to 86 acres with about 92% dedicated to coffee cultivation. Impressively, the 2022-2023 harvest yielded an astonishing 1,500 bags of coffee, marking a fiftyfold increase from their first year.
Over the course of 25 years owning and managing the farm, the Altamirano family has undergone transformation – their children received quality educations, and they've all grown older and more experienced. However, their enduring strengths, passion, and enthusiasm remain as strong as the day they first set foot on the farm in 1997.
Coffee Varieties Grown on the Farm
San José Farm primarily cultivates Red Catuai and Parainema (Sarchimor), with a smaller presence of Catimor, all grown and produced for San Francisco Bay Coffee Company.
Red Catuai, developed in Brazil in 1972, is a semi-dwarf coffee variety yielding abundant fruit. Its mild to medium-bodied profile boasts notes of honey, chocolate, warm spices, and almond. Parainema (Sarchimor), a resilient hybrid created to combat coffee leaf rust, is distinguished by its unique savoury and herbal flavour. Catimor, a 1959 crossbreed, features nutty and herbal characteristics with a distinctive berry essence.
Coffee Farming Techniques & Methods
Eduardo places significant value on being at the foot of his plants daily, enabling him to make informed decisions by observing the soil and surrounding conditions regularly. This practice aids in determining the optimal timing for various production cycle stages. The farm integrates sustainable practices to adapt to technological advancements and climate change. These encompass balanced fertilization, tissue management, shade regulation, and soil and water conservation.
The farm's primary strategy centers on consistent plantation rejuvenation. Through careful pruning, new productive growth is encouraged, resulting in resilient plants that ultimately yield exquisite coffee varieties. San José Farm also collaborates closely with neighboring producers, sharing experiences and resources.
Current Challenges in Coffee Farming
Present challenges for the farm encompass high production costs, agro-input expenses, labor, logistics, inflation, financial costs, shifts in the global market, and the impacts of climate change. San José Farm addresses these challenges through nurturing relationships, maintaining open communication, and adapting to contemporary realities that didn't exist two decades ago. Eduardo's family and team strive for efficiency, risk mitigation, and adaptive adjustment, ensuring their continued status as thriving coffee producers. They incorporate various elements of conventional management, including altering planting designs, introducing resilient coffee varieties that don't compromise quality, implementing sustainable soil management, employing high-quality fertilizers, integrating forest trees, reducing water usage, and adopting more precise crop management and controls. However, Eduardo maintains that the most important part of success lies in harmonious relationships between all stakeholders involved in coffee production, from seed to cup.
The Future Ahead for San José Farm
The future of San José Farm shines brightly, propelled by the dedication of the Altamirano family, the support of their community, and an enduring passion for coffee cultivation. The farm is actively investing in technological advancements, environmental conservation, and strategic partnerships to enhance its infrastructure. Their commitment remains unwavering as they continue to labor with love. The family's aspiration of achieving financial independence through prudent resource management drives their endeavors, alongside their ongoing efforts to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.
For many years, Eduardo's descendants have carried forth a fervor for coffee. With multiple family members steeped in coffee farming from an early age, assuming various roles and mastering all facets of the business, a rich tapestry of experience and wisdom makes up the family tree. A deep-seated pride in the legacies established by Eduardo's father and eldest brother is shared, fostering a profound unity throughout the family. Eduardo takes immense pride in his own family, applauding his wife's unwavering presence and involvement in decision-making since day one, and acknowledging his children's seamless transition into maintaining and expanding the coffee farm, a passion they've embraced since childhood. Through COOPSAEC R.L., the organization facilitating San José Farm's partnership with San Francisco Bay Coffee, Eduardo and his family feel proud to be part of the world's largest coffee family.