A rich aroma reminiscent of shortbread introduces the characteristically elegant flavor profile that we have come to love in coffees from El Barril. In the cup, clean flavors of cocoa and wafer cookie are beautifully complemented by a gentle citric acidity.
In years past, Passenger has proudly offered two Cup of Excellence winning lots from El Barril, a small family-operated coffee farm in the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua. This impeccably balanced selection from El Barril’s 2019 harvest provides a balanced and clean example of the Maracaturra variety, a natural cross of Maragogype and Caturra that was first observed and selected in Nicaragua in the 1970’s.
We feel a particular fondness for El Barril, a farm in the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua, as it was the source of the first Cup of Excellence winning coffee that Passenger purchased, back in 2015. El Barril translates as “the barrel”, a description of the barrel-like topography of the land, at the foot of Nicaragua’s highest peak Cerro Mogoton (2,107 MASL), where this special farm is situated.
Passenger was fortunate to purchase a second Cup of Excellence winning lot from El Barril in 2018 which was featured on the Reserve Lot menu for several months. While the present offering is not a competition lot, it is a beautifully produced example of the Maracaturra variety, and we are featuring it on the Education Lot menu to highlight this interesting variety that is closely tied to the history of coffee production in Nicaragua.
Maracaturra almost certainly originated in Nicaragua, from a natural cross of the Maragogype and Caturra varieties. By “natural cross” we mean the result of a spontaneous crossing of two varieties in the field as opposed to a cultivated variety that results from an intentional cross. When producers in Nicaragua became aware of the interesting new variety, they began selecting it for re-planting, noting its noticeably large sized beans (from Maragogype) and decent yield potential and flavor complexity (from Caturra). Due to a shared parent (Maragogype), Maracaturra is closely related to the Pacamara variety: a creation of state-funded agronomists in nearby El Salvador.
Finca El Barril was purchased by Bayardo José Jimenez Rodríguez’s father Mauricio Jimenez in 1996. When their father passed away, José Jimenez and his 4 brothers largely abandoned the farm, but the decision was made in 2006 to secure funding to support its revitalisation. Today, four of the brothers are actively involved in the management of coffee production at El Barril. Over time, their family has refined precise standards for their approach: harvesting only perfectly ripe coffee cherries, carefully controlling fermentation, and drying the coffees on African-style raised beds under shade.