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Can you imagine starting a coffee farm in your seventies? That is exactly what Jose Rene Paguaga, now ninety-four years old, did in Nicaragua. After the civil war forced him to leave in 1979, Don Rene, as he is best known, returned to Nicaragua in 1997 and purchased Finca Los Congos, which is located in Nueva Segovia. He was no stranger to coffee when he took over Los Congos. He started working in coffee as a boy and by the time the civil war came, he had more than 50 years of experience establishing multiple farms and a dry mill. When he was forced to leave Nicaragua, he went to Honduras and spent another 10 years establishing a new farm. He has been back in Nicaragua for more than 20 years and life at Los Congos is a reflection of his experiences. But don’t expect to find tradition in the way of innovation here. With the help of his children and grandchildren, the Paguaga family has focused all their attention on producing award winning specialty coffee. Villa Sarchi is a varietal that was introduced at Los Congos just 4 years ago as part of a renovation plan to replace older trees with something less susceptible to leaf rust without compromising quality. After meticulous picking and sort, cherries arrive at the family mill in optimum condition and are placed directly on raised beds to dry for up to 25 days. When drying is finished the coffee is stored in Ecotact bags until it is time to prepare for export. The Paguaga’s family mill has its own cupping lab and sorting equipment where every coffee is tasted and then prepared for export, giving them full control of the entire process.