Finca Los Pinos
honey process, Byron Corrales• Aranjuez, Matagalpa
notes / lemon, cherry, milk chocolate
profile / bright, floral, sweet, balanced
region / El Arenal, Aranjuez, Matagalpa
farm / Finca Los Pinos
altitude / 1450 masl
varietals / Maracaturra
owner / Don Byron Corrales
processing / honey
certification / organic
importer / La Finca Distribution
Don Byron Corrales’ finca Los Pinos, he has created a symbiotic ecosystem where everything works together. He plants his coffee in close proximity to one of his favourite trees, the Elequeme. The Elequeme tree has an intricate root system that fixes nitrogen into the soil. Don Byron creates a mycorrhizal association by spreading a layer of fungus on the soil surrounding his plants. The fungus becomes a communication channel between the coffee plants and Elequeme trees and when necessary, the Elequeme fixes essential nutrients into the soil to supply the coffee plants. This is a break-though, because over time(roughly 10 years) it can create an organic, self-sustaining coffee lot without the need for costly inputs like fertilizer.
Don Byron explains his concept of biodynamic flavours; when the moon is a crescent, the water in the plant is concentrated in the roots, when the moon is half, water is concentrated in the middle of the plant(the branches) and when the moon is full, water is concentrated in the coffee cherries on the plant; this is the best time to pick coffee. Byron claims he can get 144 different flavours from one plant.
Don Byron creates a bokashi fertilizer on his farm that is 100% organic. He plants and feeds his cows a specific plant called the Nacedero, because it is very dense in micronutrients. He uses the dung from the cows, coffee cherry pulp, volcanic rocks and other plants from his farm to create the fertilizer mixture. He lets it sit for 2 weeks as it ferments and then applies 5kg per plant twice a year; In reality he can put as much fertilizer as he wants on the plants without harming them, because it is completely organic; the plant will only absorb what it needs.
Corrales Family Background
Don Byron's grandfather, Fausto Corrales Benitez was the first coffee farmer in his family. He owned a farm named La Montanita, “ Little Mountain” near the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. Don Fausto first planted pine trees on his farm and in the middle of those trees, he planted coffee. He continued to plant coffee and pine trees all over his farm. In the 80's, the Corrales family was forced to move, because of many conflicts and the dangerous living conditions near the border during the time of war.
Don Byron and his parents, Arnulfo Corrales and Benita Martinez found and purchased a farm in Matagalpa that had very nice weather. To commemorate their roots, they named their finca Los Pinos “The Pines.” When they purchased the farm it was completely bare, so they decided to hire their first pair of staff members... two cows. Don Byron and his father started by planting beans and other vegetables on their farm, then later they created the layout.
When they first arrived to the community of Aranjuez in Matagalpa, there was a water problem. Without an adequate water supply, farmers could not plant or harvest anything. Don Byron and his father took action by planting a forest of pine and other trees to create a water reservoir. Once they had secured their water source, they decided to follow the tradition of Don Fausto and plant coffee.
The first coffee they planted was Maracaturra by seed. At the time they did not know much about growing Maracaturra, so Don Arnulfo just put it in the ground and he miraculously acquired a plant. This made him confident he had good quality coffee. Once they had planted enough vegetables to maintain their lifestyle and feed the family, they started to focus on controlling the quality of the coffee.
In the 80's it was very hard for Nicaragua to sell coffee to other countries. Don Byron was apart of the Agronomy Association of Nicaragua and he did a test to find buyers for Nicaraguan coffee, though at this moment Nicaragua did not know much about specialty coffee. Don Byron went to the US and found a group of investors and only one came to visit him in Nicaragua, that was Paul Katzeff of Thanksgiving Coffee. During the farm visit Don Byron and Paul both recorded a verbal agreement in which stated Paul would purchase Don Byron's coffee. Knowing their shipment would get rejected going straight to the US from Nicaragua, they shipped their container to Canada and tried to truck it over the border. Unfortunately The US government found out and shut down Thanksgiving Coffee. That didn't stop Paul, he came back to visit Don Byron two years later, though this time he also had a roastery. Paul later returned as a founder of the SCAA and helped build the first cupping lab in Nicaragua. It was very progressive for Nicaragua because there was a lot of training in the lab and education about specialty coffee.
Now the Unidad Familiar Corrales Martinez is composed of 4 fincas:
- Los Pinos – owner: Don Byron Corrales & Dona Benita Martinez (mom)
- Santa Cruz – owner: Byron Corrales & Ileana Corrales (sister)
- Cielito Lindo – owner: Byron Corrales & Mayra Rivas ( wife)
- La Benedicion – owner: Byron Corrales & Mayra Rivas (wife)
They are all situated in the mountains of El Arenal natural reserve in the community of Aranjuez, located 1450 MASL in the department of Matagalpa, close to the border shared by Jinotega. All farms use one wet mill located on finca Los Pinos; it is powered by electricity generated from a hydroelectric plant in the reserve. When it's not coffee season, he rotates 16 employees around all of his farms; during the harvest season, Don Byron employs around 75 to 85 people to help pick his coffee. Coffee picking is finished at 2pm every day and the washed process begins around 2:30-4pm, somedays they work until 2am.
A few years ago, coffee was pulped and sorted manually on a table. When processing mills started to use machines, they had no use for all the manual labour, so they fired the majority of their staff which was predominantly women. Don Byron watched this transition and decided he would return jobs back to the people. Honey and Natural processing are more expensive for the producer, but they create more jobs because of the meticulous attention they require; moreover, the work is not very labour intensive, so Don Byron hires mostly women patieras to work in his patio.
Don Byron wants his end consumers to understand all of the energy that is required to produce coffee. The energy from the sun, water, nature and the many hands over the course of 365 days, that are required to produce one cup.
Orders placed by 6pm Monday are roasted and shipped Tuesday/Wednesday.
Any orders received after 6pm Mondays may not be processed until the following week.