Episode 412 on Monday the 3rd of October, 2016. Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Washed Red Catuai.
Finca La Escondida is close to Lake Apanas near the city of Jinotega, which is the capital of the department of Jinotega in the north central region of Nicaragua. The straight translation from Spanish to English of 'escondida' is ‘hidden’ and Escondida is called Escondida because the farm is 'hidden' from the road by forest and trees, which makes it appear to blend right into the side of the mountain.
As coffee farms go La Escondida is a rather young farm as the first trees were planted there only 10 years ago in 2006. La Escondida is planned around identifying the plots with individually different microenvironments resulting from factors such as soil quality, sun exposure and temperature range. This is one of the upsides of starting to plant a new farm.
This coffee is a Red Catuai varietal, which you don't see so much in speciality coffee. The varietal was selected for this farm because it was thought it would do very well with the identified soil quality, sun exposure, temperature range and weather conditions in particular, given the farm's quite exposed on the side of the mountain.
Catuai is related to Yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo, and it's a hybrid that grows best at 800 metres above sea level. It is mostly prevalent in Brazil and Central / South America. This is a dwarf variety of plant; it doesn't grow very high, and this is its most obvious distinguishing trait. Selected by the instituto Agronomico in the 1950s–1960s, it now accounts for 50% of the coffee acreage in Brazil and is widely used in Central America. It also benefits from the fruit not falling off the branch easily, which helps when there are strong winds or rain, or where windbreaker coverage is at a minimum like it is here.
Some of the downsides of starting a brand new farm can be that it may take a while for the quality of the cup profile to build up, it might take time to have the right facilities for processing and picking, and it might take time to train the staff for picking and processing. Not to mention that it might take a while to achieve the yield to go with it all. But this farm, for me, has hit the whole group of requirements running. As a result of their experience in the area, the Mierisch family have built a new mill with a huge investment, and they use some of the people already in place in the neighbouring 'San Jose' to blend together an Escondida team comprising experienced and new members.
In the cup there’s a liquid chocolate orange Club Biscuit (you know, “If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our Club!”) Chocolate, biscuit, sweet orange, yum. There’s also brown sugar alongside both the taste and mouthfeel of melted milk chocolate.
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