Ye Dusty Olde Sweet Maria's Coffee Review Archive
2012-present -
2008-2011 -
2007 -
2005 -2006 -
2003 -2004 -
2001-2002 -
Pre-2000 -
Our Current Review Pages:


You are browsing the 2008-2011 Archived Reviews

Nicaragua

  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Finca Buenos Aires Caturra

Finca Buenos Aires Estates is a fairly large farm of about 215 hectares in the Jinotega growing region. We cupped through a few small lots from the farm and I was really impressed with the clean sweetness of this cultivar-specific batch. It is all Caturra, which is a cultivated mutation of Bourbon that occurred in Brazi in the mid '30s, but was planted in South and Central America mostly in the 1950s. Buenos Aires is a rather low farm compared to other origins we buy, with this lot coming from about 1200 meters. I found it very balanced, clean, moderately bright and very sweet, perhaps showing how relative farm altitude can be in relation to cup quality.

The Buenos Aires Caturra has an interesting dry fragrance, with a nice grain sweetness I would described as "honey puffed wheat cereal." There's a bit of maltose, caramel and milk chocolate, but as you add the hot water, the wet aroma shifts to a more floral scented coffee. General wildflower notes are present, with a bit of corriander and that honey-wheat cereal backdrop. I also had more apple notes and honeysuckle floral qualities when the coffee was cupped a day previous, on 12 hours rest post-roast. The cup is really delightful; clean and crisp brightness, red-apple fruit notes, and a succinct, sweetly-disappearing aftertaste. Sweet malty grain and honey, as suggested by the aroma, are the dominant roast taste at City+ level. It's a very restrained cup, balanced, but borders on being juicy in flavor and mouthfeel. It finishes with a nice light milk chocolate bittersweet. I am really happy with this coffee, such a nice "crowd-pleaser" cup profile, accessible, but with nice nuances as well.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Using coffee to sell cream. Nicaragua
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Comarca La Virgen, Dipilto
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Honey, wheat cereal sweetness, red apple.
Roast: This coffee works well on a wide range of roasts, City+ to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well. I am partial to the sweetness of City+ roast. I am testing FC+ roast as SO espresso too.
Compare to: Balanced cup, sweetness, and versatile in terms of roast. A classic Nicaragua but very clean in the cup
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Mozonte -Un Regalo de Dios Maragoype

We came back to Beneficio Las Segovias this year to find more farm-specific lots because we were so happy with the “Un Regalo de Dios” coffee from last year. It is the farm of Luis Alberto Balladarez Moncada, who runs Las Segovias mill as well. The The farm name means "A Gift from God" and reflects the convictions of the owner. It was recognized as the best Nicaragua coffee in the Coffee of the Year competition at SCAA in 2010 (with a solid but not sky-high 85.5 points). Then it won 3rd place in the Cup of Excellence in 2010 with a more impressive 91.3 points, a Presidential Award score. They donated all their CoE proceeds, no small amount of money, to a home building project and church in the area of the farm. Sr. Ballardes is a new owner of the farm, but his family has deep roots in coffee farming. The farm ranges on steep slopes from 1350 meters up to 1700 meters, and only about 1/3 of the land (41 hectares) is planted in coffee.

The dry fragrance has aromatics of Root beer and cinnamon in the lighter roasts, with pungent floral fruit (papaya, guava). The root beer and cola is even sweeter at Full City roast levels. It's incredibly and surprisingly floral with bergamot citrus on the break at City. The root beer shows up in the warm cup, especially at Full City, with some lemon frosting in the lighter roasts. As it cools, there's soft honeydew melon notes at City with an expansive mouthfeel and root beer and cherry in the finish. As it cools, the cup is more floral at Full City than at City, with the pungent floral papaya coming through in a big way. This coffee was a shapeshifter, each time I went back to it at any roast level it would unfold and reveal something else that was always sweet and enticing. I could imagine some very interesting SO espresso from this coffee. 90.1



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Mozonte, Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance:
Varietal: Maragogype
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast:
Compare to:
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Mozonte -Un Regalo de Dios

We came back to Beneficio Las Segovias this year to find more farm-specific lots because we were so happy with the “Un Regalo de Dios” coffee from last year. It is the farm of Luis Alberto Balladarez Moncada, who runs Las Segovias mill as well. The The farm name means "A Gift from God" and reflects the convictions of the owner. It was recognized as the best Nicaragua coffee in the Coffee of the Year competition at SCAA in 2010 (with a solid but not sky-high 85.5 points). Then it won 3rd place in the Cup of Excellence in 2010 with a more impressive 91.3 points, a Presidential Award score. They donated all their CoE proceeds, no small amount of money, to a home building project and church in the area of the farm. Sr. Ballardes is a new owner of the farm, but his family has deep roots in coffee farming. The farm ranges on steep slopes from 1350 meters up to 1700 meters, and only about 1/3 of the land (41 hectares) is planted in coffee. This lot is a blend of 3 separate harvest batches that I thought were especially good, but too small to offer separately.

This coffee has a lot of milk chocolate aromatics, in the grounds and wet aroma, as well as some undertones of banana, brown sugar, toasted almond and a hint of hibiscus. I found a longer, slightly darker roast (FC) was were the "sweet spot" was with this coffee. The cup has a caramelized sugar, nuts, and chocolate roast taste, cinnamon stick spice note. It's quite balanced, not overly acidic, with very pleasant bittersweet qualities. There's something mildly like wild flowers and herbal tea in the cup, a blend of mint, green tea, sage blossom. It cools with an almond skin tannic note. I am really enjoying the Full City roast level here; a Central flavor profile with nice body.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
New coffee plants with flowers, at Un Regalo de Dios
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Mozonte, Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Caturra and Catuai, primarily
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rounded mouthfeel, sweet, appropriate acidity
Roast: This coffee works well with a little more roast on it, Full City to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well. I am testing FC+ roast as SO espresso too.
Compare to: Balanced bittersweetness, mild acidity, and versatile in terms of roast.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Dipilto -Finca La Union

Finca La Union is a small 6 hectare farm in La Laguna area of Dipilto, Nicaragua. This is a microlot processed at the Beneficio Las Segovias wet mill this year, one we identified in cupping many small lots earlier this year. The farm is owned by Jose Julian Corea Gonzalez, and is at 1300 meters in an area that has produced many award winning coffees in recent years. Sr. Gonzales produces about 40 quintales of green coffee, not a huge amount. Given the soils in the area, the coffee needs a lot of organic material inputs to maintain health and productivity. La Union is planted in Caturra and Bourbon, with some Maragogype as well.

The Finca La Union has a balanced cup that is the hallmark of Nicaragua coffees. The dry fragrance and wet aroma have ample milk chocolate, walnut notes, and maple syrup sweetness. These come through in the cup as well, along with a firm brightness. Cocoa powder notes lend both sweet and bittering qualities in the finish, and the walnut (with a touch of walnut skins) is clear. The cup has a slightly rustic sorghum syrup sweetness. I think this coffee is best at Full City to Full City+ roast, and has a great potential for SO espresso at these roast levels.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Your coffee farmer, Jose Julian Corea Gonzalez
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: La Laguna, Dipilto, Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Caturra and Bourbon
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Walnuts, Chocolate-cocoa notes, firm brightness
Roast: This coffee works well at Full City to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well.
Compare to: Balanced cup, slightly rustic and nutty sweet coffee. Works as SO espresso too.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Dipilto -Finca La Virgen

This is another microlot processed at the Beneficio Las Segovias wet mill this year, one we identified in cupping many small lots earlier this year. The farm is called Finca La Virgen and it is owned by Pastor Midence Castellon. While I have all the details on this farm, it is one I did not visit. There were a lot of small lots we looked at so I could not see all the sites for them, but hope to before next season. It is at 1340 meters in the area of Dipilto called La Laguna. This zone has had a lot of success in the competitions in recent years.

The Finca La Virgen lot has milk chocolate aromatics in both the dry fragrance and wet aroma, with slight herbal sweetness, hibiscus flower, and a malty roast sweetness. It's a pretty classic aroma for high grown Nicaragua coffees, balanced, mild. The cup has nice body, a slightly rustic caramel-sorghum syrup sweetness, slight herbal notes. It has the hallmarks of a softer coffee in the roaster, as well as the flavor profile, but I like its balanced sweetness and interesting flavor notes. I find hints of chamomile and mint tea, a slight almond-skin dryness, cocoa powder and honey. The flavor profile is more rustic than some of the other microlots we brought in from Beneficio Las Segovias, but that is what makes it rather distinct as well; the herbal tea-like notes, and balance of sweetness with a rather dry finish.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Typical shading for Nicaragua coffee.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: La Laguna, Dipilto, Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Slight rustic elements, sweet, almond skin dryness
Roast: This coffee works well on a wide range of roasts, City+ to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well.
Compare to: Balanced cup, slightly rustic and with some herbal tea notes.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Jinotega FTO Mancotal

This coffee from the Jinotega area was an early new crop arrival that I thought cupped well, with classic Nicaragua milk chocolate roast taste. It is not a cooperative I have visited before. The Union de Cooperativas de Servicios Unidos de Mancotal (UCASUMAN) comprises seven small coffee producer cooperatives from the Mancotal area. This lies north and east of Jinotega, not far from Lake Apanas. I don't think the preparation of this coffee is perfect. Culling out a couple of odd or broken beans before roasting it will improve the cup. I don't see signs of quakers (under-ripe beans) after roasting. But if you see a stray light-colored tan bean post-roast, then remove it too.

The dry fragrance is sweet, with soft chocolate tones, dark honey and brown bread. Adding water, the wet aromatics have an additional milk chocolate sweetness, dark maltyness, and brown sugar. The cup flavors are balanced with an interesting sweet root beer flavor at City+ roast. The lighter City roast cup has a mild peach-apricot fruit to it, an almondy, nutty tonality to the roast taste. But really this coffee is all about body, balance, mild brightness, and a dominant milk chocolate roast tone. And this thick chocolaty character emerges at Full City roast, at the verge of Second Crack. It's a versatile coffee, a crowd-pleaser if you will. I also found it quite nice as SO espresso.





View Cupping Scores
Coffee planted under light shade trees, Jinotega.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Jinotega Department
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: March 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon, Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balanced and interesting nut and fruit tones, and mild brightness.
Roast: City+ to Full City+ ...A good chocolate roast taste develops at FC+, but you need a C+ roast to find the almond-apricot-peach notes.
Compare to: Very fine Nicaragua cup, with an interplay of nut and fruit. A moderate, balanced tonality overall. This also yields a nice, balanced espresso.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Nueva Segovia -Un Regalo de Dios

It has been a good year for the farm, “Un Regalo de Dios.” It was recognized as the best Nicaragua coffee in the Coffee of the Year competition (with a solid but not sky-high 85.5 points). Then it won 3rd place in the Cup of Excellence with a more impressive 91.3 points, a Presidential Award score. We found that they had a small lot available, not the CoE lot, not the SCAA lot, but a very sweet coffee that impressed me on the cupping table. The farm name means "A Gift from God" and reflects the convictions of the owner, Luis Alberto Balladares Moncada. In fact they donated all their CoE proceeds, no small amount of money, to a home building project and church i the area of the farm. Sr. Luis is a new owner of the farm, but his family has deep roots in coffee farming. The farm ranges on steep slopes from 1350 meters up to 1800 meters, and only about 1/3 of the land is planted in coffee. The shipment arrived quite late, and I was happy we took the trouble to line the bags with GrainPro barriers, or undoubtedly it would have arrived with a baggy cup flavor. Most Nicaraguas should arrive by July, and here we are in September! But the cup speaks for itself.

I roasted the arrival lot at 3 different levels and found a longer, slightly darker roast (FC) was were the "sweet spot" was with this coffee. The aroma has a dark cane sugar scent, so very aromatic I could detect it from across the cupping room! Wet aromatics have a whiff of age, but the sweetness dominates. There are cooked apple notes, along with that brown sugar scent, and just a hint of rose. The cup is complex, with aromatic wood and cinnamon stick, along with spiced apple cider, and a rustic dark caramel sweetness. There's something mildly like wild flowers and herbal teas in the cup, a blend of mint, green tea, chamomile, sage blossom. I think it would be a slightly better coffee if it didn't ship so late, but I am really enjoying the Full City roast level here; a Central flavor profile with nice body and a bit more aggressive "oomph" to the cup than the more delicate offerings.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Beautiful landscape of coffee and shade forest at Un Regalo de Dios
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Mozonte/Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: September 2010 Arrival -Grain Pro
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
Varietal: Catuai, Yellow and Red
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rounded mouthfeel, sweet, appropriate acidity
Roast: This coffee works well on a wide range of roasts, City+ to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well. I am testing FC+ roast as SO espresso too.
Compare to: More like a classic top-notch Guatemala than other Nica coffees. Balanced acidity, sweet, and versatile in terms of roast.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Pacamara Mama Mina Microlot

Pacamara in itself is an oddity, easy to grow but difficult to pulp, and to dry. The huge size of the grain requires readjustments to all the equipment in the coffee mill, and special care in fermentation, washing, and frequent rotation on the drying beds. Pacamara is a distinct cultivar, the name formed to express the fact it is a cross of Maragogype (the huge bean varietal) with the Pacas type, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara definitely has varietal character of an exotic nature. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. This is a single farm coffee from Nicaragua, originally called La Minita for the grandmother of the Mierisch family who was called "Little Mina". But La Minita is "taken" now, referring to the famous Costa Rica farm. So they have changed the trade name for the coffee to Mama Mina to avoid confusion. We usually buy a combined lot of the Pacamara Peaberry from the Mierisch family, but this year I felt this single-farm flatbean lot was a better cup. The dry fragrance has a burly sort of sweetness, unusual because I get a slight hint of sweet peas in it! Sounds strange, but it's some of the unusual notes you find in Pacamara coffees. The wet aroma has a touch of lavender, lemon grass; an herbal tea infusion character. It's sweet in the cup with a rustic overlay of flavors, hibiscus floral notes, a bit of jasmine too, berry fruit notes, and an unusual hint of sweet tobacco. The finish is spicy sweet, with a bit of clove and woody cinnamon bark, like mulling spices. In the long finish, it turns minty on the palate. It's a strange mix of flavors, and these can be attributed directly to the oddness of the Pacamara varietal itself.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
A view of Mama Mina, from my trip last year.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Jinotega
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2009 Arrival Grain Pro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 19+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Red Pacamara
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Unusual cup flavors and aftertaste
Roast: Full City to Full City+ work well for this lot. Note that Pacamaras might not move around well in an air roaster due to their large size, so you might want to pare back on the batch size.
Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar. This is a unique lot, with exceptional cup character.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Finca San Jose Java Longberry

This is an exotic selection. Grown in Nicaragua this lot has a long, pointed seed form and has come to be known as Java cultivar. How did this come to be? The story is as such: There was a private coffee research laboratory that had experimental gardens, including a selection of traditional African cultivars. During the unstable political years in Nicaragua, it went out of business. A coffee farmer who happened to know the main researcher knew they had some unusual coffee tests going on, but did not have access to the seeds ... well, until the place shut down. Then somebody surprisingly showed up at their door with 20 Lbs of prepared coffee seed for sale, no questions asked, marked "Variedad Java". Java? We have offered this coffee for several years and speculated on it's true identity. There is clearly an unusual seed shape, like an Ethiopia longberry type, and the tree has a Gesha-like form, with primary branches coming off the main trunk at an upright angle. I believe last year I had a breakthrough: I was reading about disease-resistant varieties from Cameroon in Africa, and came across a reference to Java cultivar. Going back in my archive of green coffee samples, I found several Cameroon samples from years ago with the same elongated, pointed bean form. It has never made sense, based on the cup, that this is a Gesha-like seed, or that it is a direct Ethiopia export, or that it is similar to anything from Java or Indonesia. I am sticking with my Cameroon hypothesis. One thing for sure; the cultivar has a huge bearing on the cup, producing estery floral scents, as well as delicate citrus notes. It also won the #2 spot in the 2008 Nicaragua CoE, so the possibility of quality here looms large. But I have found it takes a careful roast treatment to maximize the unique flavor here. There are other Nicaragua Java coffees but this is a specific micro-lot from Finca San Jose that I selected after cupping the various farms and plots separately. The dry fragrance from the ground coffee is extremely mild, with a plain sweetness and a faint hint of citric acid and quince. It opens up in the wet aromatics. The light roast produces a sweet wheat cereal scent and chaffy accent, with lemon, and vanilla pastry. On the break, a honey graham cracker scent is found and a bit of rose hip. The light body and sweet malty grain notes of lighter roasts can be a bit odd and taste a little like an unfinished or under-developed roast. Darker roasts have more body, and some bergamot notes, tangy chocolate roast taste, and nice balance. It has a soft and mild character overall. It seems to improve with a few days rest after roasting, and the light mouthfeel rounds out a bit.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Contrasting colors of the new leaf and the mature leaf of the Java cultivar.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Jinotega
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2009 Arrival, Grain Pro Bag
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Java Cultivar (Long form)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/Interesting body, flavors and mild brightness.
Roast: While I usually like the Java cultivar roasted light, we found a very balanced, more intense cup between Full City and Full City+
Compare to: An incomparable combination of origin influences and cultivar influence. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Mama Mina Microlot

Mama Mina is a farm in Matagalpa that was called La Minita for years ... but alas that name is already taken in the world of coffee by the very famous Costa Rica farm. The name is in honor of grandma Mina McEwan of the Mierisch family, who own the farm (as well as the Finca San Jose Java coffee we offer). The farm is ensconced in beautiful forest in all directions, and ranges from 1250 - 1400 meters. They keep the shade trees on the farm well-trimmed because cloud cover in the area makes for a rather moist micro-climate, and deprives the coffee trees of some needed sun. The farm is planted mostly in Caturra cultivar, with some Catuai as well. This was actually a small lot that they were planning to submit to the coffee competition, but because Erwin Mierisch works for the Cup of Excellence, they decided to avoid conflict and offer it to me. We offered a good price, above the normal Mama Mina price, because it was a specially selected lot. I have cupped Mama Mina in the past, but never had a cup quite like this before. Everything about this coffee says "classic Central America cup character" to me. This is not a flashy cup, but as a Nicaragua with this well-structured, balanced flavor profile, it is indeed a rare thing. The dry fragrance has ample sweetness, cane sugar notes, mild floral and fruit hints. The wet fragrance has a real bloom of floral and fruited (strawberry) sweetness, but not fruity like a dry-process coffee at all. Lighter roasts have pear fruit notes, caramel sweetness, with a moderate acidity that gives it definite "spine", and attractive, syrupy body. It's an approachable flavor profile, not screaming bright, rather restrained in fact. The sweetness and sense of a "complete" cup, are both clear in this coffee. It holds up well to darker roast treatments, with a more sweetly resinous flavor emerging, slightly piney, rounded mouthfeel, but a little thinner in the aftertaste. Overall, it's a quality of cup that is rarer in Nicaragua than you might think, something more akin to a classic top-notch Guatemala than other Nica coffees.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Fausto, the manager of Mama Mina farm, and his daughter. From my trip earlier this year.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Matagalpa
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Some Catuai
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Rounded mouthfeel, sweet, appropriate acidity
Roast: This coffee works well on a wide range of roasts, City+ to Full City+, and a bit into 2nd crack as well. I am testing FC+ roast as SO espresso too.
Compare to: More like a classic top-notch Guatemala than other Nica coffees. Balanced acidity, sweet, and versatile in terms of roast.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Limoncillo Pacamara Dry-Process

Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something truly more strange: Pacamara that has been dry-processed in the tradition of Ethiopia Harar or Sidamo coffees. Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. We know this producer knows their Pacamaras, which helps since those who don't can nick them in the milling process, or fail to wet-process them correctly. That's a moot point here: This is our second year offering full natural, dry-process pacamara microlot and the results are quite outrageous. It's like the rustic, fruitier sibling to a Gesha coffee. The dry fragrance is intensely fruited as you might suspect. Don't think Nicaragua, think Harar. There is mango, honeydew melon, and a sorta general fruit punch scent here, as well as in the wet aromatics. The cup is a fruit explosion: papaya in particular. There's an intense chocolate as well at FC+ roast, as well as pungent spice and tobacco in the finish. There's also quite a bit of fruited brandy flavor, dried apricot, and all the other fruits found in the aromatics! The acidity is fairly low, but more than you might find in other dry-process coffees. It is hard to score such a non-traditional coffee such as this ... it doesn't conform to standards for Nicaragua coffees. It's edgy, weird ... but I feel it is not so over the top as to be fermenty or gross in the slightest! And those who love fruit bomb coffees, intense DP Ethiopia or Yemen lots, should love this special coffee. Darker roasts develop more chocolate roast notes, and it had an intense dark fruit character up front, plum, pepper pungency, syrupy sweet notes.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Red Pacamara coffee cherry on the tree at Limoncillo farm, from my '07 trip.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Matagalpa
Processing: Dry-Process
Arrival Date: Sept 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-22 Screen
Varietal: 100% Pacamara Cultivar (Large Bean)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/Super intense fruits, chocolate, rustic flavors
Roast: Full City to Full City+: I prefer the darker roast but enjoyed the brighter fruits of the light roast too. It roasts to a very even and light color at City to City+ roast. Note that the first crack time might start later than you are used to, and at a higher temperature, and 2nd crack follows with only a brief delay. Watch this one closely in the roaster!
Compare to: An incomparable coffee, more like a Yemen than a Nicaraguan - consider yourself warned! This is a true fruit bomb. Don't go by the total cupping number - if you liked fruity coffee, this is a 90!
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Limoncillo - Java Longberry Cultivar

This is an exotic selection: grown in Nicaragua, pure old-type Java cultivar ... at least that's how the story goes. How did this come to be? There was a private coffee research labratory that had experimental gardens, including a selection of traditional Ethiopian and Indonesian cultivars. During the unstable political years in Nicaragua, it went out of business. A coffee farmer who happened to know the main researcher there was aware they were working with old heirloom longberry seedstock, but did not have access to the seeds ... well, until the place shut down. Then somebody surprisingly showed up at their door with 20 Lbs of prepared coffee seed, no questions asked, marked "Variedad Java". Java? Ethiopia Longeberry? It's a bit unclear but in the cup there are hints of both. Planting an unknown seed stock without knowing the full results of the lab testing. But that's exactly what happened, and the results are quite extraordinary and, as I mentioned before "exotic". Why? The cup character is unlike any other Nicaragua coffee I know of, especially in the light roast when you get a complete representation of the "origin flavor" of this coffee, unmasked by roast. You will notice immediately the unusual seed shape: a longbean form with tapered ends, almost like a football (uh, US football). This is actually unlike modern Java offerings that are hybrids, and more like seedstock originating in Kaffa, Ethiopia, and traveling a circuitous route via Holland to the "East Indies" in the hands of the Dutch. And you may know, it was the Dutch that planted all that coffee in Java. This cup is very unusual for a Nicaragua, and not a Java either, but something new formed from the two influences, with a good bit of Ethiopia in there too. There is the slick, heavier body of the Java, the low acidity, and some of the nutty notes in the lighter roast found from that Indonesian island. But there is a sweetness (very subtle, as the cup cools) and brightness (very moderate) not found in Java coffees. It is more balanced. There is a mild lime note that adds zest to the cup, and a slight smokey quality in the finish, as the cup comes down in temperature. Overall, it's mild and balanced, but I find it a unique example of the confluence of cultivar and origin influences upon the final cup. This cup is very unusual for a Nicaragua, and not a Java either, but something new formed from the two influences. There is the slick, heavier body of the Java, the low acidity, and some of the nutty notes in the lighter roast found from that Indonesian island. But there is a sweetness (very subtle, as the cup cools) and brightness not found in Java coffees. It is more balanced. The aroma has a "lemon wafer cookie" aspect, and is more sweet and floral than previous offerings of this coffee. There is a mild lemon note that adds zest to the cup, and a slight smokey quality in the finish, as the cup comes down in temperature. Overall, it's mild and balanced, but I find it a unique example of the confluence of cultivar and origin influences upon the final cup. Another interesting sidenote: under a modified name, a sister lot of this same coffee attained #2 in this years Nicaragua Cup Of Excellence, which confirms what I have thought for a few years running... this is very unique coffee.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Matagalpa
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Java Cultivar (Long form)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity/Interesting body, flavors and mild brightness.
Roast: City+ to Full City+: a good chocolate roast taste develops at FC+, and this coffee can perform very well as a Java in a blend, but you need a C+ roast to find the lemon cookie flavor!
Compare to: An incomparable combination of origin influences and cultivar influence. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Jinotega SHG WP Decaf

This lot of coffee is from the Jinotega region, a coffee-rich area near Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia growing regions. This is a cooperative coffee from Associacion Aldea Global, an organization that has a strong social mission for education, health and quality of life improvements for the small farmers of the area, and helps with all crops as well as sustenance farming. But coffee is the core of the program, as it is the main cash crop of Jinotega and Nicaragua in general. It's a good SHG (Strictly High Grown) specialty quality coffee, mild and clean, and a higher level than those typically available in decaf form. This it is sent for WP Decaf (Water Process) decaffeination in Mexico for the water filtration decaf method. (See links in the page introduction to explain the differences and similarities in processes). You can send great coffee for decaffeination, and it comes back terrible, and the reverse rarely happens (to my knowledge). What you hope for is a coffee with 80% of the original character ... and we have definitely achieved it here. This cups like a good, solid specialty coffee from Nicaragua with light body and clearly defined brightness. The fragrance and aroma are nutty at C+ roast level, with toasty bread hints, and lightly malted notes. I get a wisp of a pleasant smoked woody note in the cup flavors, body is fairly light. There is enough brightness to give the cup a nice acidity "sparkle," and I like the lively, mild cup it produces at a very light City roast. But it's more balanced and FC roast, where mild chocolate, malt and nice roast bittersweet notes take over.





View Cupping Scores
Coffee bags in the warehouse near Matagalpa.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Jinotega
Processing: Wet Process, then WP Decaf
Arrival Date: Late July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Toasty notes, light body, malt, chocolate
Roast: City to Full City+, ranging from bright, clean and mild at the lighter roast to chocolate bittersweet at FC to FC+
Compare to: Good Nicaragua character for a decaf, balance
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua FTO Dipilto WP Decaf

This lot of coffee is from the Dipilto region in Nueva Segovia, northern Nicaragua. Dipilto is the region where some of the best, brightest and sweetest Nicaraguas have been coming from, and many top 10 Cup of Excellence lots are Dipilto-region coffees. This was a lot sourced from Proodecoop cooperative in Esteli, then decaffeinated using the water process method, and since I cupped it as non-decaf I know this originated with a good, verified specialty coffee here. Then it is sent off to the decaffeinator in Mexico for the water filtration decaf method. (See links in the header to explain the differences and similarities in processes). You can send great coffee for decaffeination, and it comes back terrible, and the reverse rarely happens (to my knowledge). What you hope for is a coffee with 80% of the original character ... and we have definitely acheived it here. This cups like a good, solid specialty coffee from Nicaragua with light body and clearly defined brightness. The fragrance and aroma are nutty at C+ roast level, with fruit hints, and lightly malted notes. I get a wisp of a pleasant woody note in the cup flavors, and the finish has a kinda oaky quality. It finishes with a sweetness typical of Dipilto coffees, and the light body compliments the overall mildness of this lot. This is a Fair Trade, Organic certified lot.





View Cupping Scores
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Dipilto
Processing: Wet Process, then WP Decaf
Arrival Date: Late July 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen
Varietal: Typica, Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweetness, brightness
Roast: City+ has the best cup here.
Compare to: Good Nicaragua Dipilto character for a decaf, with nice body.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Esteli - Nueva Esperanza

The Nueva Esperanza cooperative group is in the Esteli state, an area where a lot of really nice Nicaragua coffees have been coming from. Though this coffee came from the excellent fair trade coop, Prodecoop, it's not a member coffee, but from a nearby group called Nueva Esperanza: Our Hope. These small prducers are from the communities of Venecia, La Laguna, and Robledal near the city of Condega, Esteli. It has been prepared and milled to Prodecoop standards. The member farms are 1200-1300 meters and together they form larger coop lots; this is no micro-lot coffee but part of a 60 bag chop. However I was impressed right away with the good balance of acidity, body, and roast flavor. I took it home for a morning brew the next day, and it's just a very attractive, crowd-pleasing cup ... there's no crazy pink passionfruit or watermelon jolly or what-have-you. Just a solid, balanced cup. The dry fragrance is very nutty at C+, and has more cocoa powder as you approach FC. (This is a nice darker roast coffee too, through light Vienna roast. I admit, I tested this coffee only at the , C+ and FC range, no darker, because the cup results seem so suited to a lighter treatment. Adding water, the wet aromatics have an additional milk chocolate sweetness, as well as the nut from the dry fragrance, and a malt-like sweetness. The lighter roast cup has an excellent apricot brightness to it, a almondy, nutty tonality to the roast taste, and almond-skin dryness. In the finish (and as the cup cools), it turns even more nutty-cocoa like. The body is light-to-medium, which suits the delicately balanced cup. It's a versatile and reliable cup, and actually pulled a decent ristretto shot at FC+ to Vienna roast.





View Cupping Scores
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Esteli
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Roast: A versatile cup, for C+ to FC+ to even Vienna roast. Espresso potential. Expect relatively light roast surface color for the degree of roast you aim for ; this coffee doesn't color too darkly.
Compare to: Solid Nicaragua cup with true Dipilto origin character.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua FTO Esteli - Miraflor Coop

The Miraflor cooperative farmers group is unique in many ways, but certainly their location is one of the most outstanding aspects. They are located inside a nature preserve, and their organic coffee farming operates in sync with the goals of the land preservation that surrounds them. The group of 55 small farmers that form the coop have their own wet mill, performing the traditional de-pulping and fermentation of the coffee fruit on site. Then they take the coffee to the Esteli area, to the mother-of-all-coops, Prodecoop, for final dry-milling, sorting, screening and bagging. Miraflor is probably the best-known farmer coop at the mill, among US green coffee buyers, for the consistently fine cup character. I admit, I tested this coffee only at the , C+ and FC range, no darker, because the cup results seem so suited to a lighter treatment. The dry fragrance is very sweet, nutty, almost candy-like, at the City+ roast stage. There's a hint of stone fruit. Adding water, the wet aromatics have an additional milk chocolate sweetness, as well as the nut from the dry fragrance, and a malt-like sweetness. The lighter roast cup has an excellent peach-apricot fruit to it, a almondy, nutty tonality to the roast taste, and candy-like sweetness. In the finish (and as the cup cools), it turns to a red apple sweetness to me. The body is light-to-medium, which suits the delicately balanced cup. It is a well-defined and clean flavor profile; this is really a pleasant, balanced cup.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Sorting coffee at Proodecoop, where the Miraflor is prepared and sorted.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Esteli, Nueva Segovia
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Roast: City+ to Full City+ ...A good chocolate roast taste develops at FC+, but you need a C+ roast to find the almond-apricot-peach notes.
Compare to: Very fine Nicaragua cup, with an interplay of nut and fruit. A moderate, balanced tonality overall. This also yields a nice, balanced espresso.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Limoncillo Pacamara Dry-Process

Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something truly more strange: Pacamara that has been dry-processed in the tradition of Ethiopia Harar or Sidamo coffees. Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. We know the Meirisch family knows their Pacamaras, which helps since those who don't can nick them in the milling process, or fail to wet-process them correctly. That's a moot point here: they are now the first to attempt a full natural, dry-process on this coffee, and the results are outrageous. It's like the rustic, fruitier sibling to a Gesha coffee. The dry fragrance is intensely fruited as you might suspect. Don't think Nigaragua, think Harar. There is mango, honeydew melon, and a sorta general fruit punch scent here, as well as in the wet aromatics. The cup is a fruit explosion: papaya in particular. There's an intense chocolate as well at FC roast, as well as pungent spice in the finish. There's also quite a bit of fruited brandy flavor, dried apricot. The acidity is fairly low, but more than you might find in other dry-process coffees. It is hard to score such a non-traditional coffee such as this ... it doesn't conform to standards for Nicaragua coffees. It's edgy, weird ... but I feel it is not so over the top as to be fermenty or gross. And those who love fruit bomb coffees, intense DP Ethiopia or Yemen lots, should love this special coffee.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Red Pacamara coffee cherry on the tree at Limoncillo farm, from my '07 trip.
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Matagalpa
Processing: Dry-Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18-20 Screen
Varietal: 100% Pacamara Cultivar (Large Bean)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/Super intense fruits, chocolate, rustic flavors
Roast: Full City+: I prefer the darker roast but enjoyed the brighter fruits of the light roast too. It roasts to a very even and light color at City to City+ roast. Note that the first crack time might start later than you are used to, and at a higher temperature, and 2nd crack follows with only a brief delay. Watch this one closely in the roaster!
Compare to: An incomparable coffee, more like a Yemen than a Nicaraguan - consider yourself warned! This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
View Cupping Scores
 
 
  Bookmark and Share
Nicaragua Pacamara Peaberry

Pacamara in itself is an oddity ... this large bean is grown on few farms since the requirements to process it, and tolerance for this low-yield cultivar are both rare. But here is something even stranger: Pacamara Peaberry. And beyond the shape of the seed, the coffee has a unique cup character from a standard Pacamara lot. Some background: Pacamara is a distinct cultivar of Arabica coffee, more specifically it is a subtype of the large bean Maragogype and Pacas, a natural hybrid from El Salvador. Maragogype is called the "elephant bean" for its incredibly large size, and is a spontaneous variation of Typica. Now, bean size per se has nothing to do with cup quality: a bigger seed doesn't make a better cup. But the argument for Maragogype and Pacamara is that the tree produces fewer cherries and flavor is more concentrated. I have tasted some very bland Pacamara that was lower grown, so this isn't always true. And hey, once you grind it up it all looks the same! On the other hand I have had some coffees that had outstanding cup qualities, surpassed all the rival samples in blind cupping, and just happened to be Pacamara. Pacamara coffees are often pooled from a small region of growers, since each independently would not have enough to form a lot. So in a sense, these are like pearls in a bed of oysters, and even in local markets of coffee-producing areas they sell for 3x to 4x the going price. This unique Peaberry lot has cup qualities that are brighter, more dynamic, and unusual than the flat bean Pacamara lot from which it is derived. Mierisch family farms has Pacamara chiefly on the Limonocillo farm in Matagalpa, and they grow enough to save the very small percent of Peaberry just for us. In fact, there is a floral note that reminds me of the longberry Ethiopia-derived Gesha coffees from Panama, not in the citric aspects of the Gesha, but in exotic secondary flavors. It harkens to the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe floral dimension; I feel I could fake this cup profile by blending a really good Central with a Yirgacheffe or wet-process Sidamo. But why do that when you can get the same cup from a pure, single-farm cultivar. What a complex and nuanced cup! An unusual smokey sweetness pervades in the cup from start to finish. There's ripe fruited notes, mango skins, and spice. When the cup is hot, there is zesty sweet red pepper, a dash of black pepper pungency, a sweet mild tobacco note, and that nice ripe fruity note. The aromatics are pronounced; sweet, syrupy and a touch herby. The cup flavors have an unusual sweetness to them, floral at first and then sage, cola (and a bit of smokiness). It's not one of those simple, sweet clean Centrals, and it isn't one of those weird earthy Indonesians, but this coffee has a different kind of funky cup character ... but somehow it works and the flavors knit together quite well. Roasting, as with other Pacamara and Maragogype coffees, should be attended to carefully since the large bean will not move in the roaster the way other coffees do.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Country: Nicaragua
Grade: SHG
Region: Matagalpa
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 19+ PB Screen
Varietal: 100% Red Pacamara
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Unusual cup flavors and aftertaste
Roast: I like the City roast the most - very dynamic cup flavors. But even the light Vienna roast had plenty of "origin character" as did the 2 FC roasts I did.
Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general due to this unique cultivar. This is a unique lot, with exceptional cup character. This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing tranparency program.
View Cupping Scores