||Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Natural Longberry 2016
The story of Has Bean and Finca Limoncillo has been told many a time, but it's one that I really love to share. So much of where we are today has come from this relationship, and I'm super proud of everything that's happened in the past as well as amazingly excited for where we can go in the future.
We first bought this coffee back in 2007, and back then we did so as part of a buying group. I loved it from the first time I cupped it, and it was a coffee I just had to get. It was only after the auction closed that I found out it was owned by a family in Nicaragua who are good friends, and indeed probably the only people I know from the whole country!
The following year I visited the farm with our importers and spent the whole trip begging them to bring the coffee in for us. Eventually they caved in (possibly just to stop me pestering them!) and kindly did so.
This set-up worked well for a couple of years, but we received notice a couple of years ago that the importers were not going to be buying the coffee any more, and for reasons other than the cup quality. This led to some frantic phone calls and some thorough searching of the back of the sofa for loose change to fund buying twelve months' worth of coffee all at once. There were many, many obstacles in the way of doing this deal, but we were lucky in that we were able to pull everything together in a very short amount of time.
The upside of all this is that we now work directly with Limoncillo instead of going via anyone else, and it's a relationship I'm super happy to have. This coffee has gone from a one-off Cup of Excellence buy to a long-term relationship.
The farm is located in Matagalpa and, at 171 hectares, is huge. It's situated at an amazing location and boasts nine waterfalls within the farm. It's owned by the Mieresch family; as I have already said, they're good friends, and they're also well-respected producers in Nicaragua. They're known for their experimental processing, varietal work, and exceptional coffee.
The fact that the family are friends helps us drill down into the details of what they do for the people who work for them, and the information continues to prove to me that good people grow good coffee.
On the farm, the family:
Pay their staff 30% more than what is typical minimum wage.
Provide free housing for 60 families.
Provide free electricity and running water for their workers' homes.
Provide free food for all workers.
Provide free daycare facilities for families to use.
Provide free healthcare facilities on the farms.
Employ on-site teachers who educate the staff and teach other skills, such as pottery and weaving. The goal is to help staff diversify their skills. The teachers are also paid twice the wages they would receive in the cities.
This coffee is the fruit of some of the amazing experimental work that's taking place at Limoncillo. I'll let Erwin explain how they came to have this unique coffee.
Here my 'story' begins back in mid-2001. I sound like a grandfather ...
My father and I were coming back from visiting some top farms in Nicaragua, as we sometimes did – and do – in order to learn from our neighbours. If we discover anything worthwhile we then implement those things to improve efficiency and quality on our own farms.
As we drove past the UNICAFE experiment station Juanetillo, which had gone under, a man on the side of the road flagged us down and explained to us how the experiment station had closed down and that his 'severance' was tools and coffee seeds since they did not have the cash to pay him. He asked if we would be interested in helping him out by purchasing these items off of him. In all honesty, I was not very happy that my father forced me to stop to see what this man wanted; therefore, I was not very receptive to his offer, but I purchased a bag of seeds and old beaten up shovels. I gave no immediate thought to the 20lb bag of coffee seeds that was labelled as JAVA.
My father later showed these seeds to our then-supervising agronomist Ing. Patricia Contreras, who had worked at that research station, and she was ecstatic. She told us about how great this coffee was, but also that it was not very productive nor resistant to disease, as she recalled from running this study at Juanetillo back in the '80s. She also said that the real name for it is Longberry and that it has its roots in Ethiopia.
We began to run some more experiments – various altitudes and processing methods – and have been learning how to manage it since.
As far as we can tell the Longberry varietal is a Typica-type coffee because of its bean shape, as is the Geisha. Its physical appearance is a uniform seed that is elongated and has been described by several of our customers as an 'Ethiopian Long Berry type'.
The coffees we receive from Limoncillo are fantastic and they come from a fantastic relationship. Erwin Mierisch has visited Stafford many times, and it's always a pleasure to have him around. Last time he was here he ended up at a Weird Beard tap takeover in Manchester, talking to two Weird Beards about crazy brewing / coffee farming ideas! A coffee from Finca Limoncillo (the 'Funky Red Pacamara') is used in two of Weird Beard's beers: Black Perle and Double Perle, both of which are mighty delicious beers!
In the cup this an incredibly clean and sweet coffee. There's fig and sultana from the natural processing, alongside a citrus acidity and a little rose water on the finish.
Municipality: Yasica Norte
Farmer: Dr Erwin Mierisch
Farm size: 171 manzanas (hectares)
Coffee growing area: 109 hectares?
Harvest months: December–February
Diurnal temperature cycle: average high: 28°C; average low: 20°C
Altitude: 1,200 m.a.s.l.?
Processing system: Natural
Medium – between cracks.
"Quick Look" Guide
Clean, sweet, fig, sultana, citrus, rose water.
Note: Cupping Scores for Acidity & Flavour are actually 6.5 each, not as above (software limitation, allows whole numbers only)
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