This feature article in the new issue of Sierra is by Gregory Dicum, coauthor of The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry From Crop to the Last Drop (The New Press, 2006).
Dicum discusses the humble homestay accommodations for adventurous tourists in Nicaragua’s mountainous Matagalpa region, where coffee grows well in the coolness of the cloud forests. The experience also offers tourists a chance to experience life in a Central American coffee-growing familyâ€”at least for a day or two. I participated in the first CECOCAFEN homestay program about five years ago, and my coauthor Randy and I have been promoting La Ruta del Cafe for years in our books; we call it “the Great Green North.”
Dicum writes, “At its most precious, coffee is becoming like wine: attracting connoisseurs so obsessed with terroir that they adjust their travels accordingly, eager to experience the rustic–and incredibly warm–hospitality of small coffee farms. As I discovered, Central American growers are increasingly eager to accommodate.”
Dr. Chris Bacon weighs in, in a comment to the article, which he praises for bringing out the elements that differentiate this type of “agroecoturism” from traditional ecotourism:
“1.These initiatives are owned and managed by strong community-based organizations that claim to ensure a fairER distribution of the revenues from visitors.
2.People are visiting working landscapes, farms, community managed forests, and other resources that are making an effort to produce food and beverages, that sustain both their livelihoods and the environment.”
Gives you something to chew on while you sip your cup of Fair Trade, Shade-grown, Organic-certified, Nicaguan cuppa Joe back home. As Dicum’s article concludes, “A homestay on a small Nicaraguan coffee farm is not for everyone. Conditions are rustic … rewards are immense. Coffee will never taste the same.”