Nicaragua has limited highland territory to support specialty production, but the natural resources it does have are formidable and provide the world with an impressive volume of delicate, citrusy profiles. For a majority smallholder coffee producing country with a concentrated growing region, it manages to export 2-3 million bags of coffee a year, more than double that of Costa Rica, its neighbor to the south, and almost as much as both Guatemala and Mexico.

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Nicaragua Green Coffee

Nicaragua’s northern mountains have a unique ability to produce lip-smackingly citric and floral cups, even in the lower grades. We are constantly impressed by how lemonade-like many of the standard SHG grades can be. While Nicaragua is broadly known for delicate and subtly floral coffees, the higher end certainly boasts the same spectrum of textures and flavors that you find coming from top producers anywhere in Central America. In addition to our long-standard roster of FTOs, we also buy a small selection of honeys and naturals each year that are beloved, and often featured as Crown Jewels.

Coffee is primarily grown in the north-central mountains, a humid tropical forest climate that spans the regions of Jinotega, Nueva Segovia, Matagalpa, Madriz, and Estelí. This part of the country is cooler and more fertile than Nicaragua’s pacific plains, and much drier than the country’s broad Caribbean lowlands. It is full of designated natural reserves and retains a high amount of biodiversity, thanks in no small part to producer efforts to invest in their shade canopy.


Nicaragua continues cultivating the bourbon and typica lineage varieties originally found throughout central america, including bourbon and typica themselves as well as catuai, pacas, and caturra. The country has in large part resisted replacing these with more climate and disease-resistant cultivars–a preservation made possible in large part by the biodiversity and widespread shade that reduces stress on the plants. Growers here also tend to favor maragogype, a Brazilian typica mutation of massive bean size and one of the parent varieties of the well-known pacamara cultivar; as well as the Nicaragua original, maracaturra, a cross of maragogype and caturra, which regularly scores extremely well in Cup of Excellence competitions, especially when processed as a natural.

October – March, with the bulk of harvest happening January-February

Nicaragua’s agricultural history is deeply tied to its political one, which has included a number of land reforms and redistributions. Throughout the last hundred years the cooperative spirit has remained popular, sometimes benefitting from political movements, sometimes holding unfriendly politicians accountable. The remoteness of the coffee regions and the overall small farm size, has kept grower associations necessary, and the certification premiums and price minimums they offer are crucial to such an ecosystem

Royal buys from a number of umbrella organizations who, such as in the case of PRODECOOP, represent dozens of community-level cooperatives, and markets them each individually. These secondary cooperatives provide a broad business infrastructure that allows local coops to focus on their associate growers’ well-being and the quality of their coffee, and centralize logistics on their behalf. In other cases, like with J&M Family Coffee, there is one multi-generation family estate helping to manage and market on behalf of a local cooperative or two, and other family farms, from whom we buy a wide variety of coffees each year.