Nicaraguan coffees were the topic of discussion at the BACC’s Origin Spotlight, bringing together dozens of coffees and a discussion on the trends and struggles of growing coffee in Nicaragua.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
“You know, it’s so thrilling to see so many women here,” shared Eleane Mierisch, the dry mill manager, quality control leader, and owner of the Las Delicias farm from the Fincas Mierisch estate. Eleane said this to a group of baristas that gathered to taste Nicaraguan coffees as part of the Origin Spotlight series hosted by the Bay Area Coffee Community (BACC) on May 31. Along with tasting coffees from over 10 different roasters, including a number of coffees from Fincas Mierisch, Eleane gave a presentation about the coffees coming from her farms and her role as the dry mill manager.
The Nicaraguan coffee event was the first in a series of discussions that the BACC hopes to host highlighting specific coffee origins and tasting coffees from that region. Along with gathering coffees from different roasters, the BACC also plans to invite a producer or importer that can speak to the uniqueness of the country. This event took place at the Pulley Collective in West Oakland, Calif., which is owned and operated by Steve Mierisch, Eleane’s younger brother. The Pulley Collective is a co-roasting space with two locations—the first one is in the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.—and this event took place on a backdrop of green coffee and roasters used by companies like Linea and AKA Coffee.
“We’ve been in coffee since 1908,” shared Eleane of her family’s farms. “Our great-grandfather was a geologist working in Nicaragua,” Steve noted, and was paid through land. The farms have flourished and declined over the years due to civil war in Nicaragua, but they are now among the most prominent producers of high-quality Nicaraguan coffees. Many of the farms have taken top slots at the Cup of Excellence competition—including Eleane’s farm, which took fourth at this year’s competition.
“Seventy percent of the leadership at our farms are women,” Eleane shared in her presentation. She talked about the importance of ripe cherry picking (“if you squeeze the coffee cherry and you get three drops of mucilage, then it’s ripe”) and her journey to her family’s farms. “I was a nurse practitioner before I went back to Nicaragua to take care of my mother,” she notes. After that, she was hooked into the family business, and has been able to use her knowledge as a nurse to help the women and families on her farms.
Fincas Mierisch is a collection of nine farms, and each one of them grows, produces, and processes coffees differently. All of the farms produce experimental coffees, with some employing the Perla Negra process, which is a variation on the honey processes that pushes fermentation. Attendees were able to try many of these coffees, including two Geisha varieties processed in different ways. Along with the coffees from Fincas Mierisch, roasters like Ruby Coffee Roasters and 49th Parallel sent coffees for the group to try.
“The problems of Nicaragua are interesting,” shared Steve. “Every farm or group of farms has their own mill, so while you can get a lot of very specific and unique tasting coffees, it’s hard to achieve a consistent profile.” From fruity and light to jammy and sweet, every coffee on the table was incredibly expressive and different.
Keep in touch with the BACC to find out about more origin spotlights and other events taking place all over the Bay Area.