Our first time featuring the Marsellesa coffee variety, this washed lot from Las Marías in Nicaragua is complex, fruited and incredibly enjoyable across black and milk drinks alike.
Near to the small town of Jalapa in Nicaragua’s Nueva Segovia region, Teófilo and his wife Alma have their coffee farm, Las Marías. Don Teo has been producing coffee here for the last twenty years, after several years spent in rice and timber production.
They maintain a diverse portfolio of coffee varieties on the farm, with some traditional lines like Caturra and Catuaí, a recent introduction of Maragoygype, as well as some hardier coffees like Parainema, Catimor and the variety that comprises this lot we are roasting for espresso: Marsellesa. As well as a whole host of coffee varieties, Don Teo maintains a native tree canopy which provides shade for the coffee, as well as having planted Ingas, or Ice Cream Bean trees, which are nitrogen fixing.
The first time we encountered Marsellesa was in a variety garden in Costa Rica, and it was described as a graceful plant, flowing like an elegant dress. It took several generations of propagating Marsellesa from an initial cross breeding of Timor Hybrid 832/2 x Villa Sarchi CIFC 971/10 in 1990 in Portugal, creating an introgressed Sarchimor, to get to the seventh-generation pure line, which was then introduced to Nicaragua around 6 years ago. This means that if you plant the seeds from a tree growing in the field you will reproduce the same plant characteristics.
From the initial F1 cross in 1990, the hybrid vigour was highly desired, but the variety was heterozygous. Today Marsellesa has become a desirable variety across Central America, as it offers resistance against leaf rust, is tolerant to coffee berry disease, and the plant is now homozygous, all the while being capable of producing specialty calibre coffee with a high-quality cup profile.
Working closely with World Coffee Research, we are aware of recent hybrids being developed like Starmaya, which uses Marsellesa as a parent plant, which has been stabilised by breeding in male sterility which means achieving stability in a variety far quicker than propagating over several generations.
We were lucky to have travelled around Central America with Don Teo’s daughter, Ana Sofia, who works with Caravela, from whom we selected this lot. As well as facilitating an open and transparent relationship between us, the roaster, and the producer, Caravela run their PECA program to provide agronomical support and training for their producers.
Their operations in Nicaragua are a quite unique, in that they purchase harvested and processed coffee parchment, undertaking the task of drying and stabilising lots of coffee at their two facilities, La Estrella beneficio near Jinotega and La Concordia near Ocotal in the north, where this lot was dried. In a hot, dry climate, rapid drying of high quality lots can result in cup scores plummeting after a coffee ships, but by drying on well ventilated raised beds under shade netting, Caravela perform the task slowly and carefully to lock in flavour characteristics for an extended period.
Jalapa, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua
A clean, focussed espresso with bags of brown sugar sweetness. Flavours of sponge cake & lemon curd underpin aromas of coconut & warm baking spices.