The other treat was a glorious celebration of two of Nicaragua's other premium exports - Rum & Cigars! But really it was a long rambling enjoyable evening discourse between like-minded coffee souls gathered together for one night only under the canopy of the rainforest night. Markus had been managing the farm for the last fifteen years, so must cherish evenings like this when the outside world comes gate-crashing into his tropical paradise.
I somehow managed to burn the candle at both ends and was up at five ready to rumble in the jungle for an early morning hike, the overnight howler monkeys gave way to a wild warbling dawn chorus. We were heading for a rocky outcrop known as the Devil's Horn, when Markus decided we should take a short-cut. (I think he was eager to get back and see what was happening in the fermentation tank!) The path became a ladder cut into the hillside at a lung-bursting angle of 60°, well, lung-bursting for me, unaccustomed to these altitudes. It gave a real insight into the terrain that the coffee pickers contend with to bring our harvest home. One reason for the detour was to discover an old Guerrilla lookout post, now crumbling back into the forest loam but a still salient reminder of how treacherous and impenetrable this part of the world was in the not-too-distant past. We were now looking down on the Devil's Doo-dah, which had seemed so high up when we first set off. Breathtaking views of sunrise over the rainforest accompanied our downward path, as we headed back to the lodge for a well deserved breakfast. Then it was the moment we had all been waiting for - back to the mill to check out the activity of the yeast in the fermentation tank.
Of all the elements that influence the flavour of our coffee - variety, terroir, process, roasting, brewing, perhaps Process is the most dominant force. So, when we intervene in the process, we know we are tinkering with the building blocks of coffee!
In Advertising we are always looking for the next Big Thing. The Madmens' favourite word is "NEW". One of our favourite words in Speciality Coffee
is "Sustainability" which, in an economic sense means sticking with your family of suppliers through thick and thin, rather than chopping and changing, we should all be working towards some kind of financial security, that delivers to all involved in the supply chain. Nowadays, of course we are referring to it in some quarters as the 'Value Chain' and by making all these marginal gains, like helping a small batch of cherry to ferment more controllably, we are adding value, but of course this only applies if the resulting brew is exciting enough to command a higher price.
So, did the experiment work? YES! It's been dried, hulled, roasted, rested and cupped and we shall be receiving the first unique batch of wine-yeast-fermented coffee from Nicaragua this June. Until then I guess we'll all just have to be patient but rest assured when it does arrive, it'll be given pride of place in all our venues: The Shop The Mackie Mayor The Hall
& The Music Room
Where the journey of exploration and experimentation will continue...