Introduction by Chris Kornman
Milton Canales Sevilla produced this gem of a Nicaraguan coffee on the Termopilas farm, located in Pueblo Nuevo, a municipality located within Nicaragua’s Estelí department just to the south of the Honduran border.
Termopilas is one of a group of family farms collectively referred to as Los Delirios, run by Daniel Canales and his sons Milton, Donal, and Norman. It is also part of a larger collective of regional farms, overseen by the family, called El Eden, and together they destroy the competition, expertly producing spectacularly complex and sweet coffee that rises head and shoulders above the next best Nicaraguan offering.
Having recently installed a few raised beds at the wet mill, under canopy of shade, the coffees produced by the Canales family continue to pursue innovation and excellence.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
This lot is very classic from a green coffee perspective. Average looking numbers for moisture, a great European Prep large screen size, and slightly high density make it an easy coffee with which to work. The lot is made up of time-tested varieties Bourbon and Caturra. The raised bed drying stage should provide a little extra shelf-stability for this clean coffee.
Bourbon is one of Arabica’s two commonly grown heirloom varieties (the other is Typica), and it traces its history back to the island that was once its namesake, now a French department known as Réunion, off the coast of the African continent to the east of the much larger island of Madagascar. It was once the most commonly grown Arabica variety in the Americas. The high quality of the Bourbon cultivar is frequently identified by its citric acidity. While still fairly common, it has been outpaced en masse with higher-yielding, more disease resistant trees… such as Caturra. This cultivar is a natural mutation of Bourbon originating in Brazil in the early part of the 20th century, and is a dwarf tree. It has proliferated extensively throughout the Americas, in part due to its high productivity (despite above average fertilization requirements) and the fact that the trees can be planted more densely than comparably yielding cultivars.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
Such a large and dense coffee needs a lot of energy in the drum to get the momentum we need. The small difference we saw on the cupping table can be attributed to the very small differences in the roast profile. In PR-338 we have a higher charge temperature and a shorter time during the drying stage. This gave us a higher arch and had the roast racing into the Maillard reactions before turning down the heat just before first crack. Nicaraguan coffees are known for their bright citric acidity and this roast really made that pop. For my second roast, PR-339, I wanted to focus on sweetness and decided to extend the drying stage so I could walk into the Maillard reactions. This gave us notes of milk chocolate and toffee with a more floral acidity. The rest of the variables, end time and temperature, I tried to keep the same so we could focus on just the energy in the beginning. This coffee was easy to manipulate in the drum and has a high tolerance for heat. I have no doubt that you could coax what you like from this clean and sweet Bourbon.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
I took Jen’s roasts for a quick spin on a couple of Chemex brews the other morning, with some interesting results. While both brews of this coffee were enjoyable (I’d argue PR-0339 was more so), there were notable differences. PR-0338 expressed softer acids with a bigger texture, offering lots of dried fruits (figs, raisins, prune) and candied nuts (cashew, almond, pecan) in the flavor. PR-0339 brewed up with brighter acids and more ripe fruit flavors like grapes, apricots, and some citrus. The sugars reminded us of salted caramel and brown sugar, and the finish was a little cleaner.