It’s that time of year again, and we are plugging away at the DoubleShot like Santa’s midwestern workshop. I wanted to stop for a couple minutes and tell you about a few of the special things we have right now that you may not know about. And I want to tell you more about two of our holiday coffees - I featured the third in my last blog entitled “Oklamopia.”
Nicaragua is its own place. It feels different than other places I’ve been; even places that are just over Nicaragua’s borders. I’d wanted to go there for a long time because some of the coffees coming out of there are good, and I really got into Nicaraguan cigars when I was in Guatemala. So in my two trips to Nicaragua I experienced a few different places and saw what things look like from different perspectives. There seems to be a lot of political-based tension and wide-spread social and economic issues.
But I love the historical roads and buildings. I love the fact that there are people who live far from any navigable roads. And that there are nationals and ex-pats rehabilitating neglected coffee farms. It's a diverse population.
One of our special holiday coffees this year is from the Jinotega region of Nicaragua. Not far from Estelí, where I toured cigar factories and walked through a museum chronicling the indigenous people and the European invasion, all the way through the atrocities of the civil war. It’s from a place called Finca Los Altos, near the municipality of Laguna Verde. The farm is owned by the Mierisch family, a team of four, who manage different segments of the farming and milling and marketing of the coffee. But what’s so special about this coffee?
Eleane Mierisch manages the milling of the coffees at the farm, and is partly responsible for the very high quality of this particular micro-lot. Eleane is featured on horseback on the info card with the one-pound package. This is a washed coffee, which means the skins of the coffee cherries were stripped off and the coffee was left to ferment, to bring out the sweetness and complexity of the coffee, and then the pulp of the coffee was washed off. When done properly, washed coffees can be amazing. And this one is. The variety (a Red Catuaí), along with the meticulous picking and processing of the coffee have made for some very distinct and segmented flavors that really pop in the cup. Drinking this with something sweet and soft like my mom’s apple crisp (recipe card included with the coffee), is a wonderful experience.
The other holiday coffee I wanted to tell you about is our Guatemala Finca San José Ocaña. First of all, this is a natural from Guatemala. Which is unusual in itself. We did have two Guatemala naturals last year at this time, so even though they are rare, maybe I’m a fan. The coffee is grown at a high elevation, and is composed of a blend of two excellent varieties of coffee, Bourbon and Catuaí. The particular cultivation and harvesting and processing of these varieties (along with some fancy roasting techniques) resulted in a coffee that just fills my mouth with a feeling that can only be described by wrapping yourself in a blanket and sitting in front of the fireplace on a cold night. When I drink this coffee, here’s what I envision: If you could take a sheet of milk chocolate that is sliced so thin that you can see through it, and you draped it across your tongue, and it instantly liquified and left a soft film on your palate - that’s the sensation I get every time I take a sip. Anyway, these coffees are great. And in very limited supply. I recommend buying the collection of all three of our holiday coffees.
Eleane Mierisch emailed me the other day because I had a question about the coffee. I met the Mierisch family in Atlanta last Spring, where I first tasted the Red Catuaí we are selling. And at that coffee tasting, I picked up a card that noted this coffee was from a farm plot called “Venado.” Eleane emailed me back and let me know there are 10 different plots at Los Altos. Venado is at an elevation of 4300 feet, and is named after the beautiful deer that are preserved on the farm.
I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the packaging for the coffees this year. The main design element of the coffees is the info card affixed to the back of each bag. Every year I dig deep and think about what moves me at the moment. About my interests and my roots and the experiences I’ve had throughout life that have delved deeply into my psyche. And this year my searching took me back to the very old photographs taken of American Indians in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Those sepia-toned black-and-whites, Indian in full regalia, posed in just the right light, usually in an unnatural background. These evidences of our past are intriguing and beautiful. They are the culmination of the history of the people of this continent and the confluence with alien invaders whose idea of technology and civility and wealth perverted the natural world in which our ancestors had learned to participate. These photos strike such a chord in me that I wanted to try and stylize the photographs of each of the farm owners of these three coffees to mimic those of the old Indian photos. I hope these are things that you enjoy and read, and maybe spur you on to look back at those images that inspired me.
Just real quick, I want to tell you about a few other new products we just put on the shelves. We have new diner mugs. They are the same high quality as the ones we’ve been selling (and the ones we use in the store), but these are white with the DoubleShot logo and icon in silver and gold. We have new Old Fashioned glasses with the DoubleShot buffalo logo printed on them in red. Red like Santa Claus. We have new Maduro Bars - super high-end Peruvian chocolate from Glacier Confection over in the Brady District, infused with pulverized Colombian Maduro coffee roasted by me. This is the best. There's also a new Camelbak Forge travel tumbler. It's bronze-colored with the DoubleShot logos laser etched. I think it's the coolest one yet.
Then we also have two new shirts. These are both shirts I bought for myself. I tested out a number of shirts before I pulled the trigger, just to make sure I was getting shirts that I really wanted to wear. And I did. One is a t-shirt. It’s heather grey with a very subtle grey imprint on the front of the DoubleShot icon and on the back of the rest of the logo. It’s super soft. The shirt I want to wear on the weekend. The shirt I put on as soon as I get home in the evening. The other shirt I got for roasting. It’s a polo. Black. Soft, but it’s really breathable. Allows me to stay cool while I’m roasting. I used to roast in a sleeveless black shirt, but I instituted a dress code and figured I should try to comply. So I now roast in the new polo. I think all of these new products are excellent. All are things I use myself, and I wanted to share them with you.
That’s all for now. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.
ps. I just finished editing an episode of our podcast, AA Café. Mark Brown and I discuss all of these holiday items and ten things that make us feel content. You should listen.