VISIT TO THE LA BASTILLA ESTATE
Travelling to Nicaragua, Central America, we visited the Estate which produces our Direct Trade La Bastilla coffee. Thanks to our long standing relationship with the estate owner, we were given the opportunity to not only see the coffee’s origin, but also to meet the coffee producers and to meet the students that we have sponsored through the Teach A Man To Fish education charity.
Given that it was harvesting season, we were very privileged to help a few of the workers pick the coffee cherries – A time consuming process given that the coffee trees are located on steep hillsides, and only bright red cherries are suitable for picking.
Once picked, the beans must be graded and processed. First, the beans are pulped to remove the fruit and mucilage (all excess goes straight in their compost and is used on the next crop of beans). Next, they are washed through to a holding tank where they’re soaked.
Once cleaned,the beans are dried. Some coffee growers dry their beans in the sun, turning every forty five minutes for five days; others send them to be dried in a central hub. At La Bastilla, the beans are dried in warm vats that are periodically rotated for even drying.v Parchment is then removed and beans are graded.
A very humbling part of the visit was meeting the students whose education we sponsor from the age of 13 to 18, after which they are awarded their baccalaureate. Each of the students must apply for and attend an interview, pass an entrance exam and show the correct attitude towards their education before being accepted by the school.
The funding that we provide helps to pay for teaching staff, accomodation and food for both the students and staff, as well as resources for the school.
The majority of Nicaraguans live in extremely basic accomodation with no electricity or water, and the vast majority are unable to attend school. La Bastilla is the first coffee farm to introduce this type of education system in the country. It aims to provide the children with the tools to go into farming, hospitality or further their education at university.
At the La Bastilla Estate, all are fortunate to have safe and comfortable accommodation. Fresh produce is provided from the Estate vegetable patch, tomato tents, chickens and cows.