Showing posts with label Nicaragua. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicaragua. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Qathra Cafe

Subject: Qathra Cafe
Location: Brooklyn, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Many people think that most of New York City is a blurring labyrinth unfit for the visiting motorist. Sure many people who live and work in the area drive around, but most tourists to Manhattan tend to think that driving in the other four boroughs are just as bad as gridlock in Times Square. The truth is that once one gets out of Manhattan, the majority of NYC neighborhoods are fairly drivable and less chaotic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Julio Handmade Mug

While I am no expert in the realm of pottery, I know it takes a lot of skill to make a handsome mug by hand. Having been to my share of arts festivals and student showcases, my eyes have seen plenty of decently-constructed vessels and it's not often I fall in love with one (it would probably be why I have only three or four hand-crafted vessels in my cupboard).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mugged: Los Altos Micro-Lot, Fincas Mierisch [Handsome Coffee]

Subject: Handsome Coffee Roasters
Coffee Mugged: Los Altos Micro-Lot, Fincas Mierisch, Laguna Verde, Jinotega, Nicaragua
Rating [see key]: 6+

A great coffee is truly a work of art; there are a lot of steps in the process that need to be done well in order to get a great final product. And like any crop, the magic of a great coffee is partly thanks to the hard work of the farm that produced it. This large role is a credit that much of the world has only begun to concede to the coffee producers of the world. For many hundreds of years, the consumer looked at their coffee as just something simple and ubiquitous, like a caffeinated version of sugar cane. It wasn't until the past decade or so that people have started to understand that coffee farming is extremely complex and multifaceted.

With the growing appreciation of the craft that goes into growing and processing coffee crops, trips to origin have become increasingly popular. No longer just a business trip for coffee importers, a jaunt to coffee regions and farms has emerged as a new type of tourism.

One touring outfit set on socially-responsible and coffee-specific tours is a company called Detour. They have two trips to Nicaragua coming up and to raise some awareness of the region they're heading out to, they sent me out a bag of Handsome Coffee Roaster's Los Altos Micro-Lot Fincas Mierisch to take for an objective spin. I tried out the coffee via pourover, french press and siphon.

The pourover yielded some intense honey, caramel and molasses right off the bat, followed with some cumin, spiny melon and shredded wheat. A syrupy, sweet brew with a medium body.

The french press continued the trend, blasting out honey, heavy caramel, brown sugared oatmeal, spiny melon and some wheat in a medium body.

The siphon came through sweetly again, with notes of honey, caramel, shredded wheat and apple, proving slightly piquant with a luscious mellow sweetness.

I can say with confidence that if the coffee on this upcoming Nicaragua tour is going to be this tasty, I'd be happy with that alone. Fortunately, it seems like the trip Detour has arranged holds beaches, lots of sights and some time in the coffee fields during the height of their harvest. But if you can't get away for what looks like a great trip, seek out some coffee from Fincas Mierisch and/or Handsome Coffee Roasters.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.   

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mugged: Medium Signature Roast [Don Tomas]

Subject: Don Tomas Coffee
Mugged: Medium Signature Roast
Rating [see key]: 3+

More and more, people are going right to the source when it comes to food. We love our farmer markets, our local butchers and even our local grocers. Sure we still live in a giant supermarket society, but the increase for small batches and transparency on when/where/how is growing (which is likely tied to the demand for organic, natural and/or socially-responsible food, but that's another topic).

With coffee, we especially love our geography, with most roasters offering full detail on (at least) the region a coffee comes from. With this love affair of source, it's no wonder that a few coffee farmers have awoken to smell their own roasted coffee and have taken on the roasting/retail end themselves instead of sending it all away so foreign roasters can make bank.

One of the handful of farms roasting their own beans is Don Tomas Coffee out of Jinotega, Nicaragua. Offering several roasts of their coffee, they recently sent me out their Signature Medium Roast to try. Below are my notes as I consumed the coffee via drip, siphon and french press.

The drip demonstrated notes pretzel, birch, apple juice, pepper and malt amidst a medium body. A deep and sweet coffee proving a tad dark in flavor.

The french press was a little different, with flavors more akin to cocoa, salty caramel, pepper, soy sauce, milk and nutmeg with a medium body. Still a sweet yet dark brew.

The siphon blasted out notes of malt, pepper, birch, apple turnover and cigar. More like the drip in profile, this brew had a bit of a tobacco to further enhance the dark aspects.

Granted, this medium roast was much more akin to a dark roast in much of its flavors but overall, it was not a bad coffee (especially for someone looking to go dark). If you're in the mood for a Nicaraguan dark roast, try out Don Tomas' Signature Medium Roast.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mugged: Nicaragua [AgroEco]

Subject: AgroEco
Mugged: Nicaragua, Union of Cooperatives San Ramon
Rating [see key]: 3+

I'm always elated to hear of organizations looking out for the welfare of coffee farmers. Without a healthy network of agriculture, the (coffee) world would disintegrate and thus, groups that promote sustainable and realistic aid to the coffee farms of the world are a great commodity.

One approach some organizations take with their efforts is to bring the coffee directly to consumers through an in-house label. One such organization that does this is CAN (Community Agroecology Network), based out of California. Not only does CAN work with helping farmers implement environmentally-friendly and economical practices, but CAN also sells coffee under their AgroEco label. The coffee comes directly from the farmers that CAN works with, and a portion from each sale goes to help the farmers. Curious as to whether the taste was as good as its intentions, I took their Nicaragua San Ramon for a spin via pourover, french press and siphon.

The drip produced a cup brimming with clove, cocoa, ginger and prune, with subtle flecks of oregano. A heavy and sultry coffee, the cloves proved this coffee a lot deeper than I initially expected from a light roast.

The french press boded similar, with clove, Honey Nut Cheerios, cocoa, apple, pepper and oregano. A peppery, sweet coffee with brighter notes than the pourover.

The siphon spouted also with cloves, honey, nuts, cocoa, pepper and oregano, though with a much more buttery texture. A sweet, deep coffee with strong notes of dried flower buds.

In the end, I would definitely not dub this coffee a light roast, as it embodied much more of a medium-dark flavor profile. Thus, understood to be a darker coffee, I would say that this Nicaraguan wasn't half bad, though the pepper and clove-ish aspects did not find much favor in my court. Thus, if you're in the market for a deep and spicy coffee that does great things for distant farmers, give AgroEco's Nicaragua a go.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mugged: Coffee Bean Direct

Subject: Coffee Bean Direct
Mugged: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Nicaragua Organic Fair Trade SHG

Rating: 3+ for both [see key]

A lot of enamor is placed on hand-made products. The fascination with getting a product produced by actual human limbs provides that artisan touch that many consumers love. But from a business perspective, that extra labor only pays off when you can price your products at a higher rate. If you want to get a great product at a lower price, mechanization needs to get involved.

Which brings us to the folks at Coffee Bean Direct who have grown to a point where they chose to take steps to keep their production more efficient and their coffee still affordable. Thus, they have opted to use Kickstarter to help them get a "pouch monster," an $80,000 upgrade to their coffee production. 

To better help paint a more accurate picture of what they have to offer and why you the consumer should pitch in to help this company expand, the folks at Coffee Bean Direct decided to send me out two of their coffees to review: their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and their Nicaraguan Organic Fair Trade SHG. Both coffees I reviewed via drip, french press and siphon infusions.

The Ethiopian overall produced a coffee with notes of apple, corn, strong cigar, malt and grass, with small differences in each infusion. The drip held strong apple notes with a light lime zest amid a medium body, the french press more corn and caramel with similar body and the siphon was more overt in chocolate notes and with sweeps of vanilla. Overall, a decent coffee though the notes of cigar and akaline elements made this only a fair African coffee.

The Nicaraguan embodied a malty and salty brew across the board, with particular shades of pretzel, pecans and cola. As for minor differences, the drip was thickest with minor notes of spinach and caramel; the french press begot similar notes as the drip though with a lighter and broth-ish flavor; and the siphon held tinges of sassafras and nutmeg. Also a good coffee though it was a little too malty for my liking and the salty aspects didn't pair as well as I would have hoped. 

Thus, while I can't say that their coffee was the best ever, I can say it is substantially better than most coffees you would pay a similar price for at the market. Give Coffee Bean Direct a try and if you feel compelled, help them realize their Kickstarter goal. 

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.   

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mugged: Nicaragua COE [Oren's Daily Roast]

What does "Mugged" mean?

Oren's Daily Roast
Coffees Mugged:
Cup of Excellence Los Achiote
Rating: 4+
[see key]

iven the constant coverage of coffee in New York City these past years (such as $12 cups of coffee, Westerners bringing their roasting operations east, etc.), it's easy to forget about places that have been in the area for much longer then New York's late-coming obsession of quality coffee.

I got a shipment from Oren's Daily Roast, a coffee company that's been around since the 1980s and remains a place that I've managed to miss in my occasional rushings around the city (busyness tis a poor excuse). Of the brace of coffees sent, I spun the proverbial wheel of destiny (I spin it for such occasions) and began with Oren's Cup of Excellence from Nicaragua Los Achiotes.

I kicked it off with a filtered brew of the coffee. The result displayed a saucy, rock candy, IPA-ish coffee with bits of caramel, nougat and some wheat grass. A good cup with a bit of a bitter aspect.

The french press was darker, producing a whiskey-esque bitterness and sweetness, some dark chocolate, a little hops, a little grass (less then the drip) and a tiny bit of tea rose. More bitterness and a heavier body in this infusion.

The siphon birthed a more of a caramel, bran-like child with the sauciness of the drip as well as the flavors of wheat grass, nuts, hops and grapes. The least bitter and smoothest of the three methods.

Overall the coffee held to a good quality, though it didn't really strike me as Cup of Excellence level product (for me, the bitter and saucy facets weren't the most enjoyable). Nonetheless, if you're aiming to try one of Oren's Daily Roasts, take a crack at this COE from Nicaragua.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.