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This month we’re showcasing a new connection, in a country
less familiar to us.
This is the first time we have released a coffee from
Nicaragua, a country we have been watching for some time now.
Luis Emilio Valladarez farms coffee in the Nueva Segovia
region, not far from the border with Honduras.
Both of these lots are of the Java varietal, which tends to
produce floral and vibrant cups.
The first coffee is the natural Java, a softly floral cup
with tropical fruit notes on a creamy chocolate base.
The washed Java is more delicate, with crisp jasmine
florals, fresh and mineral with a tea-like body.
1 x coffee
Buenos Aires - Natural Java (250g /
2 x coffee
Buenos Aires - Natural Java (250g /
Buenos Aires - Washed Java (250g / 5.3oz)
The impact of coffee
In a similar vein to last month, these two coffees are a result of our exploration of new coffee
origins. We found these two lots on a blind cupping table from our friends at Belco, and knew we
wanted to share them through our subscription programme. Both the washed and natural coffee
showcase clear characteristics from the Java varietal, which has become rather popular amongst
quality-focussed producers in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in all of the
Americas, with 80% of the population living with less than $2 a day. The economy is highly
agriculturally reliant, with agriculture composing over 15% of the country’s GDP and 60% of its
exports. Of this, coffee is the largest contributor, with 17% of total exports. Therefore the
current move towards higher quality coffee and higher prices could have a positive effect on the
Nicaraguan economy and workers’ conditions in rural areas.
Cafetalera Buenos Aires
Luis Emilio Valladarez has been working in the coffee industry for 60 years. Buenos Aires is the
first farm he ever purchased, followed by two other farms named La Laguna and El Suyatal. At
this time the Nicaraguan coffee market was rather different, there was little to no direct
access to roasters willing to pay good prices for traceable high quality coffee, so Luis sold
all of his production to a local cooperative as cherries. Today he works closely with his son
Olman, mainly on two of the farms, Buenos Aires and La Laguna. This family set-up began in 2004,
when Olman started to help his father and brother manage and run the family’s farms. In 2005,
Olman observed the first signs of the wave of speciality coffee starting to break over
Nicaragua, and encouraged the rest of the family to take more control over their value chain. It
was due to this that this enthusiastic group of producers decided to build their own mill,
Cafetalera Buenos Aires, in order to more effectively control coffee production and export.
Cafetalera Buenos Aires is now a family business covering just over 200 hectares, producing
several processes of mainly Caturra, Maracaturra and Villa Sarchi varietals, alongside some
small experimental plots. Buenos Aires, the flagship of the project, is located high in the
Dipilto mountains, near the border with Honduras in the Nueva Segovia region. The steep
mountainous terrain here means that even within this one farm, coffees are planted from 1,200
all the way up to 1,700 metres above sea level. Most of the coffee is grown under native shade
trees, and the soil and plants are fertilised using environmentally-friendly techniques, with
minimal non-organic products used. The whole family is constantly striving to make a name for
themselves in the world of specialty coffee, for example participating on several occasions in
Nicaragua’s Cup of Excellence competition. In fact, in 2015 they won the competition with a lot
of Maracaturra from Buenos Aires, a very impressive feat in a competitive country with many
Both coffees this month are of the Java varietal, an Ethiopian heirloom strain introduced to the
Indonesian island of Java by the Dutch in the early 19th Century. Since then, it has been grown
in several countries, but the current varietal was introduced to Costa Rica in 1991 after
selection by a breeder in Cameroon during the 1980’s. This was mainly due to the varietal’s
tolerance of coffee berry disease, but it was soon found to perform well and produce very high
quality in the Central American coffee lands. However, in Nicaragua, the varietal was never
distributed so widely due to the defunding of the coffee research institute UNICAFE in the late
90’s, before wider trials had been carried out. Rumour has it that an employee of the institute
was given the last Java seeds and some tools as his severance package, which he then sold to a
well-known producer in the area, the Mierisch family. From here, the reputation of these Java or
‘Longberry’ seeds spread, and soon quality-focussed producers across the country were growing
them. It was initially thought that Java was descended from Typica, given the similar cup
characteristics and lengthened seed, but genetic sequencing found that it was closer to another
Ethiopian heirloom strain known as Absynia. These varieties are all of the ‘Ethiopian Long
Berry’ classification, which also includes Geisha, and tend to produce floral and delicate cups.
Both coffees here showcase these characteristics, but the different processing techniques create
rather different expressions of these.
First coffee - Nicaragua
Buenos Aires Natural Java
Honeysuckle, Mango and Milk Chocolate (250g /
Olman selects cherries from low areas of the farm to process using the natural method, as he
feels this gives more intensity in the cup. In this lot, the characteristics of the Java
varietal shine through in the honeysuckle florals, but the natural process increases the
mouthfeel and sweetness in the cup, with flavours of rich mango and creamy milk chocolate.
Second coffee - Nicaragua
Buenos Aires Washed Java
Jasmine, Cantaloupe and Black Tea (250g / 8.8oz)
The washed process preserves the characteristics of the Java varietal in the most transparent
way, meaning that they’re able to shine clearly throughout, with jasmine florals spilling from
the brew, followed by a crisp and clean cup with fresh melon and a delicate black tea finish.
Nicaragua is an inspiring and resilient country, with a rather chaotic history alongside some
present day challenges. The coffee industry here is mainly growing rather low quality coffee and
selling at low prices, but the Valladarez family are an example of breaking this vicious cycle
and creating a sustainable business. One of the ways they have done this is by pushing
boundaries and creating unique microlots which can fetch a high price, like both coffees in this
month’s pack. These Java lots showcase clear varietal character, and quite simply represent some
of the best coffees we’ve tasted yet from Nicaragua.
Stay bright and curious - John Gibson
The opportunity to share new experiences
Our Discovery Subscription allows us the opportunity to share new experiences with you every
month, taking you with us on our journey through the changing seasons of coffee. This allows you
the opportunity to taste new lots from across the coffee landscape as they arrive at our
roastery, when they’re fresh and in season. We strive to find the most delicious and
thought-provoking coffees we can get our hands on, working together with a group of innovative
and dedicated partners we have met over our years in the industry. We are inspired not only by
sharing their painstakingly created raw material, but by conveying how each step of its journey
has led to what you find in your cup, be it terroir, varietal, post-harvest processing, or
something else entirely.
We always aim to tell a story
One of the best ways to appreciate the effect of these factors is to taste coffees side by side.
Our most popular option allows you to experience two coffees every month, maybe different
varietals or processes from the same farm or region, or maybe two parallel lots from producers
at opposite ends of the coffee belt. We always aim to tell a story with our coffee choice,
focusing on a different aspect of what we’re finding exciting in coffee right now. Sharing these
experiences each month allows us to expand our coffee horizons together, and develop a shared
vocabulary within both taste and preference in coffee.
We’re always happy to continue our conversation with you through our webshop portal, whether it
be purely practical, or discussions about this month’s coffees. We see our role as simply a
middleman between you and some of the best coffees in the world, and the people who produce
them. These people inspire us, and we do our utmost to share both their coffees and their
stories with the people who appreciate them most.