2015 La Escondida Perla Negra "Black Cappuccino" - Nicaragua
Finca La Escondida - No Longer Available
Lipululo, Jinotega, Nicaragua
I spend a decent portion of the year tasting coffees from around the world, sometimes at home at Spro and other times at the farms themselves. While we taste and discover lots of wonderful coffees, every once in a while we come across one that really leaps off the table. This is one of those coffees.
Named Perla Negra (The Black Pearl) by the Mierisch Family because of the black honey process that the Catuai coffee undergoes. In this alternative to washed processing the coffee is stripped of its protective husk, leaving the grape pulp like mucilage whole on the bean. The Perla Negra differs in that the coffee is fermented in large bladders, encouraging lactic fermentation that gives the coffee its unique flavor profile.
Black Honey processing offers the most complex, rich and flavorful coffee. Problem is that it's extremely labor intensive and costly than other methods. Add the bladder fermentation, which is greatly prone to over-fermentation, to the process and it makes it even more complex and expensive. Make a miscalculation and leave the coffee in the bladder for too long and the coffee is destroyed.
Situated near Lake Apanas in the central western region of Nicaragua known as Jinotega, La Escondido is a relatively new farm - with the first coffee trees being planted in 2006. Named "The Hidden" because the farm is shrouded from the highway by forest growth, the Mierisch Family identified different micro climates on the farm, factoring qualities of soil quality, sun exposure and temperature range, designating growth lots based on these variables. Owing to their commitment to quality, La Escondido features an on-site wet processing mill to capture the coffee at its peak ripeness.
While cupping the various offerings at the Mierisch's Beneficio Don Esteban, the Perla Negra leap out at me with strange, but interesting notes of steamed milk and a distinct milky aroma. It was as though someone had added milk to the coffee but it was completely black. I learned that this was due to the unique processing method where the black honeyed coffee was placed in rubber bladders to encourage a lactic fermentation. It's a rare process and one that requires precise control to produce these results. The tag "Black Cappuccino" came to mind as it describes precisely how the coffee tasted. Then, as the coffee cooled, the smoothness of the milky character really came into its own and I decided that we would get this coffee specifically to use for our tower-brewed iced coffee.
2015 La Escondida Perla Negra
Producers: Erwin Mierisch
Farm Manager: Boanerje Martinez Montenegro
Region: Lipululo, Jinotega, Nicaragua
Elevation: 1250 masl
Harvest: February 2015
Style: Shade grown
Processing: Black Honey, bladder fermented
2015 La Escondida Perla Negra
No Longer Available