Wake up and smell the coffee! – Miraflor moments

In reality we woke up a long time before smelling the coffee. In a household where everyone is up at 5am it’s difficult to justify lying in past 6.30am. But why give up the chance to use a ‘great’ title in pursuit of the truth?

Anyway, the story is our experience on the first day in El Sontule, Miraflor roasting coffee the old-fashioned way.

The homegrown coffee needed to be roasted for family consumption. Having a flask of coffee at the ready at all times for anyone that wants one is something of an institution here.

First, the coffee beans. So-called 'cafe oro', or 'gold coffee', the beans have already undergone around eight stages in the complex process from plant to cup. Now it is ready to roast.

The beans are put in a container that resembles an old gas canister, covered, then placed over an open fire to be turned rather like a tombola. The turning has to be smooth to make sure all the beans are roasted evenly.

And so, at the instruction of the capable Jackson we turned...

...and turned...

...and turned...

...and turned...

And after almost two hours of turning the beans were finally toasted

Now we could truly smell the coffee - it was wonderful

But it wasn't quite over - we needed to separate the beans from the remains of the husk

Roasting coffee is a fine art, and the process can add significant value to the end product. This old school method gave us an insight into the way it’s often done in the mountains where the coffee is actually grown. It’s bloody hard work.

All that remained then was to sample the flavour. Of course we were able to do that the very next day. We were also lucky enough to be invited to a demonstration in the community of coffee-tasting or ‘cupping’ put on for a group of visiting students.

‘Cupping’ is a complex process – like everything involved in coffee production. It is vital to observe many different aspects of the coffee – its aroma, taste, substance, etc – to determine the quality and hence the value. We had a go ourselves and narrowly avoided caffeine headrushes induced by the violent sucking action that is apparently required when tasting a spoonful. Although I failed to identify pretty much any of the elements of the different samples it was an educational experience, and opened up to us another important aspect of the world of coffee.

Sucking up the sample

Think! Now what was that aroma - chocolate? almonds? earth? mouldy wood?

I managed to dribble most of the coffee down myself at this attempt

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One Response to Wake up and smell the coffee! – Miraflor moments

  1. Mum Linda says:

    What an evocative blog and smelling that coffee had driven me to have a cup early this morn – very alien to my system always awoken by lovely tea and a couple of hours after Dona Lucia! Their lifestyles are very hard but they all sound to have roles and to work co-operatively to achieve ends or is that not quite so?I love the sound of all those people being about and the house full of chatter, warmth and coffee and that they share with strangers – my kind of lovely folk. I wish they were able to travel over here for us to return their warmth and hospitality.
    All that turning and exercising of arms instead of legs was worthwhile then but it seems strange they have not come up with another method other than person power for that bit? You can move on to spit roasting pig/lamb next with your experience! What is the flavour and aroma of Nicaraguan coffee and having seen growing and tasted coffee in different countries are you experts now at differentiating? Have you come up with your perfect blend?
    Yesterday on the radio there was an item concerning the risks and dangers Nicaraguan divers go to to catch lobsters for the US markets which was very sad to hear. Not sure exactly where it was but given the country appears to largely lake covered I expect you will be dicussing many things watery soon. Looking forward to it and hope the experiences on board boat and afloat with bikes are as interesting but that also you enjoy the pedalling break. Maybe you will do some line fishing and catch interesting different fish if you have many hours/days to while away. I guess in those warmer waters the fish will look and taste very different to our cold water regulars. Look forward to your amazing and continued blogging and hope you are both feeling very much better for being a little stationary . All love Mum xxxxx

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