Our trip to Nicaragua - coffee

Fratello Coffee Roasters recently visited Erwin Mierisch and his family in Nicaragua to tour their coffee estates in order to choose the next Lot of coffee to bring to Calgary.
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Direct Trade Coffee - Nicaraguan Los Placeres Estate - Rainforest Alliance

We are pleased to introduce a new Direct Trade Nicaraguan coffee: Los Placeres Estate, which is replacing the Finca Limoncillo Estate, is officially available on our on-line store.

100% Caturra, Honey Prep.  Aromas of caramelized cherries, a delicate butter body, flavors of milk chocolate & pecans with a clean lingering grape acidity. Cupping Score 90.00

Los Placeres Estate is from a different area on the farm, however from the same farmer as Finca Limoncillo.  We have been working with Erwin Mierisch and his family for 3 years now.  They are still dedicated more than ever to quality, evidenced by winning another Cup of Excellence award. This is their 4th year in a row receiving this prestigious award and currently hold the record for the most money received per pound at auction.

Here is a link from our farm visit with them in January when we visited Nicaragua in order to source this coffee.

Direct Trade Coffee - Nicaraguan Los Placeres

We traveled to Nicaragua in December and fell in love with the people, the culture, and the food. Read about our trip and find out why we think this is one of our favourite regions in Central America.

Chris and myself along with Nan & Gerry (of Good Earth Cafes) just finished visiting the Meirsch family in Nicaragua.  Together we toured Matagalpa and Jinotega to see their 5 unique coffee estates, each show casing a different cup characteristic that stand out from one another.

The Merisch family is a 3rd generation coffee family that currently evolves 2 generations, with a 3rd (or the 4th in total) not far behind.  It was easy to see how close this family is to one another and how important family is to them.  When staying at Erwin Merisch’s Seniors home, you were always in the company of his siblings and wives, their children as well as cousins.  We certainly didn’t feel like outsiders either, as we were welcomed with open arms.

Coffee cupping

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Rainforest Alliance - Coffee farm audits

We have written and spoke a few times about why Fratello Coffee chooses to purchase Rainforest Alliance (RA) certified coffees over other certifications.  We believe strongly that RA is the most complete certification available to us today.  A certification that looks at many different levels of life and accountability on the farms we choose to work with.

Not all of our coffee is RA, however, more and more are and we will continue to source coffees that first stand out as exceptional on the cupping table; followed with the hopes that these estates are/could be certified.

Below is a short video provided to us by The Rainforest Alliance that shows a few of their objectives while auditing at the farm level.

Guatemalan Montecristo - Rainforest Alliance - Direct Trade Coffee

Last year we were offering coffee from this same estate called Nueva Granada.  This year we wanted to dig a little deeper into their farm and decided on this single varietal coffee, Bourbon.  Bourbon, an American mutation of the Typica varietal, is known for its softer, creamer cup then most other coffee varietals.

This 100% Bourbon micro-lot has a sappy maple aroma with flavor notes of brown sugar and white chocolate.  The green grape acidity finishes thick and clean.

Cupping Score - 88.5.

Montecristo is located at the highest point of Nueva Granada in the San Marcos region of Guatemala.  At 5200 feet elevation, this is San Marcos highest farm.  From the top of this farm you can see two volcano's and Mexico's boarder.

Fratello Coffee is the only roaster who had access to this coffee in the entire world as Johann D Nottebohm, the owner of the estate, did this special separation of 100% Bourbon just for us.

guat1_o

Thank you Johann, we look forward to sharing this with our clients!  To read more information about this coffee/estate, please go to: https://www.fratellocoffee.com/2009/02/05/guatemalan-nueva-granda-buying-trip/

Brazil Daterra Sweet Blue – Rainforest Alliance Coffee – Micro Lot

Ok, here we go again…..We keep finding new coffees that keep blowing me away.  Fratello has a new Brazilian coffee, exclusive to us in Canada that you need to try.  Daterra is an extraordinary producer who’s plantations are located in the Cerrado region (State of Minas Gerais) and in the Mogiana region (State of São Paulo).  They were also the first to introduce Rainforest Alliance in Brazil.

 

Daterra’s Sweet Blue gave us sweet chocolate and syrupy orange aromas compliment a thick mouth feel and clean finish.  Balanced flavors of dark chocolate fudge and mild almonds.  Cupping Score: 90.

 

 

 

Daterra is a coffee grower and exporter best known for its innovative research, its respect for the environment, social responsibility and its high quality coffee.  Daterra is by no means a small coffee producer; however, they are very well known for the quality of coffee they produce.  This is evident when looking at a few of their awards:

 

  1. Cup of Excellence finalist in 2001;
  2. Best coffee from Brazil on the cupping for Quality by Rainforest Alliance in 2005 and 2008;
  3. Espresso Blend used by World Barista Champion Troels Poulsen in 2005;
  4. Espresso Blend used by World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen in 2006;
  5. Sustainable farm model by Illy Cafè in 2008
  6. Four out of the six WBC finalists used Daterra coffee in their blends in 2008.
  7. Daterra has a “Penta Pack®” packaging system (vacuum packaging) patented internationally.  This was used to ship Brazil's Cup of Excellence winner lots in 2006 and 2008.

The Sweet Blue is a Micro Lot from Daterra which produces only 5300 – 7950 lbs of coffee per year.  Sweet Blue is the Mundo Novo varietal.  Their processing methods on this coffee is a pulped natural at the wet mill, 100% sun dried and followed with their Penta System for both packaging and quality control (See bottom of this post for more information on that).

 

 

Daterra's plantations are located at an average altitude of 3,800 ft (1,150 m) under a stable temperature of around 25ºC, which constitutes the perfect environment for Arabica Coffee production.  The plantations are divided into 215 mini- farms and further subdivided into 2.816 blocks called "quadras", each of which is planted with a specific coffee variety.   (more…)

Guatemalan Montecristo - Coffee Buying Trip

We have been buying direct trade coffee since 2013, which means we have years of experience in understanding the best practices in coffee production and purchase. We go to Guatemala once a year to learn more about our producers and their families, to understand their challenges, and to stay up-to-date on their successes

On January 17th my brother’s Jason & Chris joined my self to travel to Guatemala to visit our friend Johann Nottebohm and his wife Holly at their farm Nueva Granada.  Our journey began in Guatemala City when we traveled 7.5 hours by car to the far North West corner of Guatemala which is known as the San Marcos region. 

The drive was long, but beautiful as the landscape of Guatemala is very mountainous and boasts 38 volcano’s which is the most in all of Central America.   When we reached the town of El Rosario and turned off the highway El Rodeo thinking we reached our destination, however, we had 167 more curves & turns in bumpy rock road before reaching the elevation of 4300 feet, the base of Nueva Granada.  This farm has views Volcano Tajumulco the tallest Central American volcano at 14,440 feet, and Volcano Tacana which is half in Mexico.
Coffee Farm

Johann’s is now the 3rd generation coffee farmer in the Nottebohm family.  His great grandfather, originally from Germany, moved to Guatemala in 1894.   Nueva Granda was the 3rd farm in Guatemala to become Rainforest Alliance certified, and their family tradition continues today of striving for better quality, consistency, improving environmental techniques and educating the families that live on their farm.

The pride in this farm is shown on every level.  It starts by watching their team pick only the ripest red cherries.  Every 2 weeks, each tree will have hands sort through their branches choosing the best coffee, for a total of 15 passes per harvest!  Most farms will only have 4 or 5 passes per harvest forcing them to choose over & under ripen cherries each time.

Once picked, cherries are brought immediately to the wet mill located on the farm.  (more…)

Why is Fratello choosing to support the Rainforest Alliance certification?

Fratello Coffee has wanted to support a greater cause when purchasing our coffees.  We are choosing to work directly with farmers, and when possible purchase Rainforest Alliance (RFA) products.  This does not mean we are not going to continue to source Organic and Fairtrade Organic products, it just means we would rather choose the RFA Certification on our coffees.

I have had some issues in the past bringing in Organic certified coffees, not because I don't agree with organic certification, but simply because I know most coffee farms are indeed organic.  A lot of farmers don't use pesticides, chemicals and un-natural fertilizers because they can't afford them.  These same farmers can't afford the to undergo certification to become "Organic".

 

(Healthy envoirnment in Bolivia)

While I agree that farmers should be paid more for QUALITY products, and agree with the philosphy's surrounding Fairtrade.  I've always wondered at the track-ability of the funds so that I can ensure they are reaching the actual farmers and workers on the farm.

To me, it is much more important to get funds directly to a farmer, the workers and their families, than it is to pay a premium which goes to the Fairtrade certified Co-op that purchases coffees from the farmers.  I do know that Fairtrade has made huge living and working improvements to many area's in the world, but I'm unable to trace our funds directly to the source.  Accountability is very important to us.

Fratello wants to support our partners in the coffee growing comunities, and we want to ensure that the farmers and workers are not only paid well, but are well looked after.  We also want to ensure that the total environment is looked at, not simply that they are organic.

Rainforest Alliance auditors measure farms against ten key principles of sustainable agriculture.  These 10 key factors were designed by Rainforest Alliance and other members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) - a coalition of nonprofit conservation organizations that work together to promote socially responsible and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

(healthy coffee farm and enviornment in Brazil)

For more information on the 10 key factors, please read below. (more…)