The Road to Excellence

Info WA
September 13, '22

Nicaragua El Cambalache (90.75) - 2nd Place Winner 2021 Nicaragua Cup of Excellence


The team at Dimattina Coffee made their first trip to Nicaragua back in 2013. We have always really enjoyed Central American coffees and we had heard of a coffee growing region in the Northern part of Nicaragua, on the Honduras border, that had produced an exceptionally high percentage of Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence winners. The Cup of Excellence is the most prestigious competition and auction for high quality coffees, showcasing the best coffees and farms from around the world.

This exceptional coffee producing region, 4 hours drive from the capital Managua is called, Nueva Segovia. In the most recent Cup of Excellence competition (2021), it produced 7 of the top 10 winners.

So, back in 2013, myself and fellow workmates Joe and Agim headed to Nicaragua in the hope of sourcing some of these beautiful coffees for Dimattina Coffee.



It was on this very first trip that we were introduced to Salatiel de Jesus Zavala Ferrufino (Sala) and his family. We had visited the Las Segovias dry mill in Ocotal where we had sampled hundreds of coffees from all the farms in the area.  On our fourth day there we tasted a coffee which we loved, and we thought stood out from the others. That coffee was from a farm called Finca La Esperanza, owned by Sala.

The next day we visited La Esperanza and met Sala. We had lunch with Sala and his family and visited his wife Olga’s small farm La Picona. It was on that first visit that Sala asked me “Are you here to buy my coffee? Do you want a relationship?”



To that stage Sala and Olga’s farms had been finalists in seven out of the eleven times that the Cup of Excellence competition had taken place in Nicaragua. Back then Sala told us – “The Cup of Excellence is fantastic. It has brought so much to Nicaragua, but unless you sustain relationships from it, it is good for that year only. We cannot survive on one good year; we need many years, and we need relationships.”

2013 was the first time we bought coffee from Sala and the start of our relationship with Sala and his family. Our team has been back and revisited Nicaragua on many occasions, judged in Nicaraguan cup of excellence competitions and Sala and his families’ farms and their coffees have become one of the favourites of our coffee range.

Sadly, and unexpectedly Sala passed away in 2018, leaving the farms to his wife and two children. On our first visit in 2013 Sala was working incredibly hard to send his children to college. A self-made man, who started from nothing, he would be proud to know that his wife and children, led by his son Samuel have done an amazing job managing the farms and have continued their fathers’ tradition of producing award winning coffees.  


We have also continued working with Samuel and purchasing their coffees. La Esperanza is a staple in our coffee line-up and will soon feature in a new direct trade blend we are working on. We have eagerly followed their entries in the annual Cup of Excellence competitions and bid on their coffees in the international auctions. In 2020 we secured their 10th placed coffee – El Cambalache.

Samuel entered El Cambalache again in 2021, this time creating a special process recipe called “SZ Honey” which focused on the processing techniques and fermentation of the coffee.



We were super excited and proud when we heard that Samuel’s coffee was the second-place winner in the 2021 Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence. With a cupping score of 90.75, it also won the highly esteemed Presidential Award.

We cupped Samuel’s coffee as soon as we could, and we loved it. Proud of our association with him and his family, we then bid on it fervently during the international auction. We’re proud to announce we won the auction and now look forward to being able to share this coffee with you in 2022.

Back in 2013, Sala told me one of the secrets of his success was that he processed the coffee during the night. He believed the lack of humidity in the air at this time and coldness of the water helped lock in the sugars from the mucilage. Just like his father, Samuel is continuing to raise the bar, also paying particular attention to the way they handle their coffee post-harvest and it’s great to see him achieve such wonderful results. We hope you enjoy this special coffee.


Farm Name : El Cambalache

Rank : 2a

Award : Presidential Award

Year : 2021

Processing System : Honey

Variety : Maracaturra

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