Jasmine, Cantaloupe and Black Tea
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 observedthe 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 family 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. 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 are 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 established producers.
This lot is of the Java varietal, an Ethiopian heirloom strain introduced to the 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 tends to produce floral and delicate cups. Here, these characteristics of the Java varietal shine through 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.
When we choose to share a coffee, it’s because we feel it showcases clear character in the cup, the origin of which can be traced back through the coffee chain. We are inspired not only by sharing this carefully created raw material, but by conveying how each step of the coffee’s journey has led to what you find in your cup, be it terroir, varietal, post-harvest processing, or something else entirely.
We roast with a gentle touch in order to unveil these characteristics with the highest level of clarity. Be it a dense, high-grown heirloom varietal from Ethiopia, or a lower-grown Bourbon from Brazil, we always aim for this same clarity, and write taste notes as an introduction as to what to expect from the raw material. We would expect higher acidity and a lower body from Ethiopia, so would use notes such as citrus fruits and tea to describe this. From Brazil, we are more likely to use notes such as chocolate and nuts; to convey the heavy, sweet character and pleasant dryness we expect from lower-grown coffees.
|Producer||The Valladarez Family|
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade. The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more