A Lovely Last Day in Nicaragua

I’m finally climbing out from under the mountain of work that awaited me back here at Barista Mag’s headquarters, after I left for a week to attend the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence (CoE). But I’d be remiss if I didn’t report on the wonderful day a few of us spent with Erwin Mierisch before coming back to the States, even if I’m tardy.
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The view from the Mierisch family’s Limoncillo.

The CoE ended with the awesome Awards Ceremony on Friday night, and lots of the international jury members took off on Saturday, headed either for home or additional Central American destinations. A few of us stayed on for an extra day, however: Erwin Mierisch, whose many hats include Operations Manager for the CoE, as well as coffee producer at his father’s farms outside of Managua, Limoncillo, Las Placeras and La Minita, generously offered to take CoE Executive Director, Susie Spindler; incoming CoE Chair of the Board, Andreas Hertzberg; CoE Treasurer, Bill Swoope; and me on a tour of his family’s farm, which would end with a relaxing night spent at his father’s spectacular ranch.

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About an hour outside of Esteli, and about an hour away from Matagalpa, is the Mierisch’s own dry mill. It sits in a valley that provides the perfect microclimate for drying coffee. Nicaraguan dry mills are often situated in areas that are too hot for drying coffee, so the coffees can get scorched. It’s one of many problems facing Nicaraguan coffees that producers are working to overcome.

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Women sorting coffee in the beneficio.

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Just a picture I liked. Nice shadows.

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Boys in the mill rearranging bags.

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This was pretty funny: this is coffee vacuum packed for Solberg & Hansen (Oslo, Norway). Andreas (of Solberg & Hansen) got a kick out of seeing it all ready to be loaded into a shipping container, which sat on a truck just outside. He waved at it, saying, “See you in Oslo.”

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The shipping container.

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In the cupping lab in the mill, Susie holds up one of the vacuum bags.

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A fully-equipped lab!

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Susie and Erwin look over records.

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Mechanism to measure relative moisure in green coffee—pretty sweet bit ‘o technology here.

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Erwin’s Frankenroaster!

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The great room at Erwin Senior’s house, where we spent the night. Erwin Sr. is known simply as El Doctor in Matagalpa, where he practices medicine. Besides the gorgeous coffee farms, one of which is filled with waterfalls from three rivers, he has 18 beautiful horses, several hundred heads of cattle, dogs and parrots. His property was, like, my version of heaven.

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Sitting area just outside the front door.

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Noticing how I was freaking out about the horses, Erwin asked the ranch hands to bring a few out. Above on the left is Baya, who is joined by her colt, Barista!

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Erwin and his horse.

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I said goodbye-for-now to the horses and we drove up to Limoncillo for lunch. We walked down a short path to this amazing waterfall, where the Mierisches have built two platforms for dining and reclining. We enjoyed some Flor de Caña here before the rain drove us back to the farm hacienda for lunch.

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Bill and El Doctor with one of Erwin’s brothers in law and niece, Gabby, on the “bar” platform under the waterfall.

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The incredible waterfall.

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Walking back up the path to the Hacienda. Erwin Sr. loves bamboo, and uses it to make fences, hand rails — even pipes!

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At the top of the trail, headed for the Hacienda.

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The fairytale-like Hacienda.

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The workers at the Mierisch farms have a country store, which Erwin’s late mother set up, where workers can buy premium goods for cheap.

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Inside the store.

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Next to the store is this covered area with benches and a TV where workers gather to watch movies and television.

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Then we loaded up in the truck to go see some of the hybrids Erwin is growing. Here, he’s showing us the Nicajava.

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With three rivers and several waterfalls, the Mierisch farms are perfectly situated for generating hydro electricity. Here, Erwin shows us the small hydroelectric plant which generates all the electricity that is used on all of the Mierisch land. Pretty awesome!

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Gabby, in the nursery.

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After a good hike and a good meal, Andreas relaxes in the Hacienda.

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The second floor “rec room” in the Hacienda. Note the bar in the background.

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Looking down from the second floor of the Hacienda. What a lush, gorgeous jungle landscape. Thanks for all the hospitality and interesting discussion, Erwin! It was so much fun to spend a day with you and your family before leaving Nicaragua.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.