May 2015 - Erwin Mierisch: Finca Limoncillo
We have fantastic relationships with a great number of growers all around the world, I'm massively happy that I can call many of them my friends as well as colleagues but I can't deny that I have a very special relationship with the lovely Mierisch family.
We first bought coffee from them back in 2007 as part of a buying group, from the first time I cupped their coffees I loved them! The first coffee I got my hands on was the washed caturra through an auction however it was only after the auction closed that I found out it was owned by a family in Nicaragua who are probably the only people I know from the country, and are good friends.
The following year I visited the farm with our importers and spent the whole trip begging them to bring it in for us. Eventually they caved in and kindly did this for us.
This has worked well for a couple of years. But we received a notice a couple of years ago that the importers were not going to be buying the coffee any more for reasons other than the cup quality. This lead to some frantic phone calls and some thorough searching of the back of the sofa for the loose change to fund buying 12 months' worth of coffee in one go.
Many obstacles were in the way of doing this deal, but we were lucky that we were able to pull all the strings together with so little time.
So the upside of all of this is that now Limoncillo we control the supply and I see it as a symbol of how Has Bean's buying program has developed, and how we are developing as a roastery. This coffee has come from Cup of Excellence, to long term relationship, to a more direct relationship.
The farm is located in Matagalpa and is a huge 171 hectares. It's an amazing location with 9 waterfalls within the farm. It's owned by the Mieresch family; as I have already said good friends, and also well respected producers in Nicaragua. They're known for their experimental processing, varietal work, and exceptional coffee.
The fact that the family are friends helps us drill down into the details of what they do for the people who work for them, and continues to prove to me that good people grow good coffee.
- Pay their staff 30% more than what is typical minimum wage
- Provide free housing for 60 families on their farms
- Provide free electricity and running water for their homes
- Provide free food for all workers
- Have free day care facilities for families to use
- Provide free health care facilities on the farms
- Employee on-site teachers who educate their staff and teach other skills such as pottery and weaving. The goal is to help staff diversify their skills. The teachers are also paid twice the wages they would receive in the cities.
As the years have moved on the relationship has grown, I've visited the farm many times and Erwin came to the UK to see us, of course being me I made sure to video things!
If you'd like to have a look on Google Maps where the farm is then by the wonders of GPS coordinates you can! Just click on the following link -> Finca Limoncillo, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.