Coffee growing and ecotourism seem an unlikely brew, but this is just what two innovative fincas in the highlands of Nicaragua are experimenting with. On a recent visit to Finca Esperanza Verde (which means "Green Hope Farm") and Selva Negra, both situated in misty cloud forest near the city of Matagalpa, I was able to experience firsthand how coffee production can be complemented by sustainable tourism.
These two plantations offer comfortable eco-friendly lodging, home-grown organic food along with birdwatching, hiking, and numerous other outdoor activities. Guests can learn about where their morning cup of organic, shade-grown coffee comes from. They also get to see solar power, waste recycling, and other green technologies at work. Both these fincas have been certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity and building sustainable livelihoods for local people.