Apolo 11 Espresso

A chocolatey espresso with notes of golden raisins, orange, honeycomb and toasted almonds. In milk expect flavours of treacle tart.

Introducing our second Nicaraguan espresso offering this year; welcome back Apolo 11! Last year we took our first ever coffee from Nicaragua, and it was so well received by our baristas and customers alike that we planned a trip to visit Jinotega and meet with John Mark to learn more about how he produces his coffee. Unlike other producing countries, the coffees we buy from Nicaragua are grown and processed on the farm, but then Caravela (one of our green coffee importing partners) undertake the mammoth task of drying the coffee seeds in a very controlled and proper manner. This is a game changer, as typically we have tasted coffees from Nicaragua that start to taste woody and aged very quickly, usually due to inadequate drying conditions. Caravela turns the coffee seeds frequently on raised beds under shade netting, which allows them to dry slowly and evenly, locking in their flavour and preserving them for months longer than you would expect from patio dried coffees. 

John Mark is a real character. His background is working as an engineer designing airports in the USA. You can see this training and experience as an engineer in how he manages his coffee trees. Depending on the orientation of the plot and the hours and intensity of sunlight it receives, he adjusts the frequency of shade trees to ensure each plot, ranging from 900m to 1,100m, gets the optimal amount of sunshine. He plants bananas around his coffee trees and also Guava Rojo (known as Ice Cream Bean) which is leguminous and introduces nitrogen back into the soil. The trees are pruned vertically with chainsaws, and the leaves taken in with hedge strimmers to ensure they are always kept at the optimum size for maximum yields. He doesn’t use herbicides, instead employing teams to weed around the base of the trees to ensure the soil remains healthy. 

When processing the coffee, John Mark has some eco-pulpers and demucilagers, which he typically doesn’t like. He feels bypassing the natural fermentation stage reduces the flavour impact in the cup. Normal disc pulpers can be very wasteful in terms of water usage, but by recycling the water through the machinery he says that the seeds are better ‘lubricated’ in sugars, and he uses just 1 gallon of water per ‘Lata’ (bucket) of coffee cherries, as opposed to the national average of 75 gallons. The water becomes very acidic, so they have tiled all of their tanks and washing channels, as the water would corrode concrete. The wastewater is treated in the most advanced way we’ve ever seen, through soak pits, sand and lime to reduce the pH, before being fed to a bug digestor, which is basically a tank full of effective microorganisms that can break down the sugars, caffeine and tannins in the water. The gas produced as a result of this treatment is trapped in a large balloon which he refines and uses in their large staff kitchen to cook lunch for all the workers on the farm. They employ hundreds of people each day and offer free daycare and food, as well as paying a premium on each ‘Lata’ of cherries harvested. 

We’re glad to have Apolo 11 back in our range, offering it alongside our other fruitier espresso options as a solid, chocolatey coffee which performs fantastically in milk and for those seeking a more rounded espresso.

Producer

John Mark LaRue Palacios at Finca Apolo 11

Harvest

January - February, 2018

Process

12hr fermentation, fully washed and dried on raised beds under shade

Variety

Caturra & Catuaí

Region

Jinotega

Country

Nicaragua

Altitude

1,100 metres