Introducing Las Penas!

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

You’re in your kitchen, barely awake or clothed, with a bag of Irving Farm coffee standing between an Auto-drip and French press, as though choosing between two lovers. Which one will it be? What are you in the mood for? Which brewing method will produce the perfect cup to make more important decisions seem far less complex than this one?

Add to this the layers and layers of factors that determine how your coffee tastes. You can take the same varietal and plant it on two different continents, or in two different countries, or two regions within the same country, or two farms in the same region, or one farm at different elevations. But what if you took the same coffee and planted it on the same farm at the same elevation and the only difference is that you took the harvest and dried half in the sun as is—just a beautiful, plump coffee cherry catching some rays—and the other half with only the skin removed? How different could the taste possibly be once the beans are roasted and brewed? 

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters La Pena

We’re very lucky to offer you the chance to taste this difference with our brand new Nicaraguan coffees, La Pena Miel and La Pena Natural. This Yellow Catuai variety is grown in northern Nicaragua, near the Honduras border, by Luis Alberto Ballardez. When he dries the coffee au naturel, the sugars from the fruit and skin migrate directly into the seed, producing a very concentrated flavor profile, so La Pena Natural explodes with the intensity of Pixy Stix. It provides a delightful jolt, much in the same way dried fruit can really zing and pop.

Since La Pena Miel is dried with the skin removed, but the sticky mucilage in tact, it’s considered a “pulp natural” or “honey” process. The sugars from the fruit still infuse the seed with sweetness, but it produces a more refined cup in which the deeper notes of chocolate and almond can come through.

Both Las Penas are dynamic and full of personality, and it’s fun to taste firsthand how incredibly unique the same coffee can present under slightly different drying processes. Some days call for the relaxed familiarity of La Pena Miel, and others need La Pena Natural to dance around in that red party dress to get things going.

Your mornings just got way more interesting, and don’t worry, the Auto-drip and French press will be thrilled to have both Las Penas sisters in your cup.

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

Los Pozos: Sweetness Direct from Nicaragua

Los_Pozos

At Irving Farm, we visit a lot of farms and are always looking for new ways to make farm relationships. Our Nicaragua Los Pozos offering is a special coffee with a special story. We purchased this sweet and deep coffee through a brand new organization working to make the links between producers and coffee roasters that much more direct. Pulley Collective, a New-York-based initiative, has been working since 2012 to connect very small producers — many of whom are award winners — with international roasters through carefully curated auction systems.

Through their efforts we were introduced to this beautiful example of Nicaraguan single origin coffee, a big-drinking, rustic and sweet cup, full of dried fruit and spice notes and perfect for winter drinking.

 

 

Travel Update: Honduras + Nicaragua

Jose Francisco Villeda and family
 

Dan meeting farmers, Hoduras newspaper
 

Omar, Las Capucas Co-op President
 

The view from El Cielito in San Vicente
 

Marcala
 

Coffee flowers in Nicaragua
 

Travel Diary

Dan, our Coffee Director, just returned from a coffee buying trip where he visited some old friend and made new coffee friends; sniffed, swirled and spit coffee; crossed borders and made the newspaper in Honduras…

Here are a few lines from his travel diary:

First stop, Capucas:

I wanted to drop a line about Las Capucas. Everything was amazing when we got here. Our hosts had built cabanas for us to stay in, which was real fun. This year the co-op had 40 new members join and I got to meet some of them. Great news, they all replaced their milling equipment with brand new milling equipment! Best of all, the coffee is improving. This year they had 44 lots in the competition (last year we had 30) and there were only 2 lots that we scored as “non-specialty”. This is an impressive achievement and I’m excited about how things continue to develop here.

On Saturday after the festival, I visited Jose Francisco Villeda (aka Pancho) and his family.  He is a farmer whose coffee we currently buy. It was really awesome to sit down with him and learn more about his farm and family. Pancho and his wife Patricia have 4 daughters and 1 son. This year Pancho is processing much more of his own coffee, instead of selling it to the mill. This is largely because of our commitment to continue buying from him and the prospect of us buying more coffee.

 

Two days in San Vicente:

Now we are in Santa Barbara and working with the San Vicente Dry Mill. Santa Barbara is the most famous part of Honduras to source coffee from right now.  Mostly because many of the “Cup of Excellence” winners come from here. For example the El Sauce coffee we had from CoE in 2010, which I visited today. We cupped 30 coffees in the Mill today, did a few farm visits and tomorrow are doing more farm visits from the coffees that we liked. I found one lot that I like a LOT which wasn’t spoken for and we are going to visit tomorrow.  It is all Bourbon, which is uncommon here with mostly Pacas and Catuai being grown.

 

Two days in Marcala:

We took a side trip to Marcala on the way to Nicaragua.  Marcala is probably the best known of Honduras’ growing regions.  It is a controlled Denomination of Origin by the Honduran Government, which means the coffees must be from the region of Marcala, and meet the quality specs.  This year however was the first year the mill here has separated “micro-lots”.  We cupped 30 coffees and saw some promise.  We also met an amazing young lady named Nancy Contreras, who has been cupping since she was 14 and now owns a coffee shop, roasts and cups at the mill. 


Last stop, Nicaragua:

Yesterday we crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua. This morning we are getting up early to head out to visit some farms. We toured around Ocotal (the city where we are) in two coffee growing regions, Dipilto and Mozonte.  The last day we cupped 30 coffees at Beneficio Las Segovias, before heading to the Managua.  Dipilto and Mozonte also showed tons of promise and some amazing producers with very distinct points of view.  

After two weeks on the road I am exhausted but amazed at the great coffees and people I have been introduced to. Looking forward to returning home to NYC.