Field Notes: Nicaragua 12.31.2017
It is the week between Christmas and the New Year. The Holidays feel over, but they are hanging on. The New Year is here…almost. I am back from Nicaragua, but I will be heading back soon because the harvest is in full swing, and there is a lot of work left to do. The first part of our fermentation experimentation is complete, and now we wait. Coffee has to rest after it is harvested before it can be sampled roasted and cupped for quality. I have been reminded this holiday season that life is full of waiting, anticipation, and hope. I really, really hope these experiments produce an exceptional cup of coffee. If they don’t, we will still have learned a lot, but I can’t help being anxious.
As we wait, I have been reflecting. I have learned so much from Bayardo and Alvaro Reyes. Together, both businesses are eager to learn more and more about coffee and all the processes that can affect quality through out the supply chain. However, it is not coffee knowledge that I am most impacted by. It is a deeper understanding of people and relationships that have changed me the most.
Alvaro calls it “The Power of the Coke.” Days on the mountain can be long with unexpected “things” happening each day. After the previous day’s coffee ferments over night, it must be washed and hauled down the mountain to the dry mill for drying, resting, and sorting. Some days, the unexpected delays on the mountain might mean missing the receiving window at the dry mill. The mill will stay open a little later for Finca San Jose because Alvaro treats the workers there well. He often shows up unannounced with no business other than bringing the hard working, often over looked workers a bottle of Coke. This simple act of humanity goes a long way, and the workers love Alvaro and take extra care of the coffee from San Jose.
It is simple but challenging to me. Sometimes the best way to care for people is just to show up with a Coke (or cup of coffee), look them in the eye, and say, “I was thinking about you," or "how are you doing?” Sometimes taking time to focus on the seemingly small parts of life makes the biggest difference.