What a year it has been! I usually make at least four trips to origin for Parisi Coffee per year to find the very best, and most unique lots for true coffee lovers in Kansas City and beyond. Establishing strong relationships in countries of origin leads us to travel to visit our producer partners in person to see and appreciate their hard work, celebrate their successes, and make plans for upcoming harvests. Suffice it to say, travel this year has been difficult.
Just before COVID hit, Nick Scott, Parisi’s Head Roaster, and I had the opportunity to be introduced to one of the most interesting producers I have had opportunity to meet in my career!
It was the last days of a wonderful trip to Nicaragua and we were circling back toward Managua from the high country around Jinotega. We stopped in another major producing area, Matagalpa.
There are a lot of very nice coffees from this part of the country. The altitude and soil are perfect for the type of coffee we love. A lot of distinguished micro-lots come from this region.
To produce a micro-lot that is uniquely memorable, it takes someone who is daring and willing to risk giving up the financial comfort of producing high-quality, consistent coffee.
When a small producer fails to produce a unique micro-lot, they often get very little return for the coffee, even when selling it blended into a bulk lot. Certainly not enough return to justify the extra work and attention that went into trying to create the lot.
But when it DOES work… well, it is certainly worth it for the producer. Those coffees command a premium.
For the truly special producers who willingly take the risk, their micro-lots are a celebration of what coffee can be. What we can do to accentuate those flavors hiding locked away in the plant, and coming from the land. Truly special coffee is about a producer having ownership, pride, and love for his trees, his land, and his staff.
Byron Corrales is one of those truly special people.
Upon meeting him for the first time over dinner, I could sense he was one of these people I love to meet. Interesting, charming, and full of passion for coffee.
Despite the language barrier, we all found PLENTY to talk about! And I couldn’t wait to see his farm, and cup his offerings the next day.
In the morning, Nick and I met for breakfast at the office with Byron and his daughter Sara. We shared stories of our travels, our hometown (Kansas City!), and our thoughts on coffee. We discovered just how well we synced!
Byron showed us his cupping lab and Sara explained to us how Byron is CONSTANTLY trying to find something unique and different to do with his coffees. Something to show unique characteristics, create different experiences, and to celebrate how great Nicaraguan coffees can be.
He runs hundreds of experimental lots, as small as 10-20 pounds at a time to simply try things. Constantly learning, constantly tweaking, constantly chasing a cup that makes him say “Wow! I’ve got to share this!”
I knew we had found someone I wanted to know and partner with…
We travelled to the mill just in time to see some of his coffees arriving at the drying patio. He explained to us his approach to the anaerobic natural process and showed us the bags of macerated cherry. He walked us around his lots of coffee on the drying patio, explaining why he chose each varietal, and each drying process he was incorporating.
And after that, at the cupping table, I could see it was all worth it.
Distinct cups. Interesting profiles. Nuance sweetness and balance. I was in love.
On the spot, I decided I had to have these to share with you, our customers. We locked in a beautiful spread of offerings, showcasing the flavors of Finca Los Pinos, and the efforts of Byron Corrales and family.
We are excited to share these with you. And I hope you find the passion, inspiration, and appreciation in the cups like I did.
Coffee Sourcing and Production Manager, Parisi Coffee