Nicaragua Cup of Excellence Event 2004 – Matagalpa

“Nicaragua is a country that really becomes more attractive the more times you visit.”

Matagalpa, Nicaragua, May 2004

I was a judge at the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition again this year, and once again it was a great trip. Nicaragua is a country that really becomes more attractive the more times you visit. As far as the competition, holding it in the coffee/agricultural capital of Matagalpa was brilliant. I enjoyed this much more than last year’s event held in Managua. The coffee quality was higher overall this year with less samples disqualified for taints and more clean cup profiles overall.

Narrowing down the lots to the top coffees that would make it into the Cup of Excellence Auction was difficult because of this invigorated competition between the excellent lots. I think my colleagues on the International Jury did a great job working through our differences (when it comes to taste, there are always differences!) to help define the flavor profile truly excellent Nicaragua coffees.

For once, I tried to get a picture of all the folks below , but if I missed anyone, terribly sorry. Another problem is that it took me a month to create this slide show of images from the trip, and my memory faded a bit. Next time I will be sure to do my trip report as soon as I return!

Nicaragua Cup of Excellence photos

A few subjective thoughts as a tourist in Nicaragua in 2004:

Yes, it is one of the poorer countries in Central America. Yes, it has a lot of problems that plague it’s neighboring countries. But somehow Nicaragua seems like a “healthy” country, a place that has gone through turmoil and is the better for it. There is a determination in this place for the “Haves” and the “Have-nots” to come to terms with each other, to negotiate, to work out differences in a peaceful way. While Panama and Costa Rica are very tourist-friendly … maybe too much so … and Honduras can be a little sketchy, and Guatemala gives me the creeps, Nicaragua (and specifically Matagalpa) is the best place to go wander, meet the local folks, and feel comfortable in a really nice, not-very-touristy town.

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