Summer Blend featuring Nicaragua El Diablo
We launched our seasonal blends back in the fall of 2017 as a way of playing with new coffees and exploring new flavor profiles. While our staple blends aim to stick to a consistent flavor profile, our seasonal blends embrace change and the seasonality of coffee farming. With each seasonal blend iteration we look for coffees that are fresh off harvest with something unique to bring to the table. We also prioritize coffees that are traceable from trusted sources. This summer we chose to blend a Colombia and a Nicaragua, both washed coffees. We were looking for a classic taste of nuts, chocolate, good body, and cherry sweetness. The Colombia brings the body and cherry sweetness to the blend, while the Nicaragua brings some nuts, butterscotch, and caramel sweetness (think caramel corn!). We are roasting these separate and then blending, this helps to bring out unique attributes in each coffee and create something special when brought together.
We work with a lot of Colombia coffees from Coffee Quest - our export/import partners in Colombia - but the Nicaragua in this blend is new for us. It’s been a few years since we have had a Nicaragua coffee. We selected this El Diablo lot for it’s quality but also for it’s story and the impact being made at origin. Caravela is the exporter and relationship that linked us to El Diablo. Caravela does tremendous work providing training with their agronomist team on the ground, this helps create better quality resulting in better prices paid to the farmers. Ten cents from every pound of coffee we purchase goes to funding their agronomist team. Caravela also took care of the drying of this lot at their mill La Estrella. By ensuring careful drying methods with raised beds under shade cover cup quality and shelf stability are improved. The use of raised beds like this is rare in central America.
El Diablo is a group of about 10 farmers in Jinotega. El Diablo is a natural reserve high up in the mountains. Caravela tells us it's a magical place, where birds and butterﬂies dance around the coffee trees that cling to impossibly steep mountainsides in the shade of the lush cloud forest. This region is one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in Jinotega, a place with beautiful and impressive forests, where the water sources originate at the top of the mountains and flow all the way down to the farms of countless coffee growers below.
We were able to commit to purchasing 20 bags (3,040 lbs) of El Diablo. The really neat thing is Caravela maintains full traceability, and we have the names of the 5 producers who contributed to the lot we purchased, as well as the percentage from each producer. Because of the quality level assessed by Caravela the farmers were paid 258% above the commercial market price. This translates to $2.46 / lb green and this is almost twice the amount of the fair trade price which would have been $1.40. Organic certification adds on another $0.30 so the price paid would have been $1.70. The downside to certifications is they cost a lot to maintain, the prices paid fluctuate up and down with the commercial market price, and they don’t take into consideration quality. The commercial market price for coffee has been very low this past year, and that means that even the price paid for organic/fair trade coffees is not enough, or just barely enough.
By incentivizing quality and providing on the ground training from agronomist Caravela is able to help build healthier farms, healthier eco systems, healthier pay, boost morale, and deliver tastier coffee. While we will continue to offer organic certified coffees we want to shed light on this complicated reality as we work on building mutually beneficial relationships with our suppliers and producers.