Our first-ever offering of the uncommon Marsellesa cultivar is a well-rounded and unique cup. We found honey, red delicious apple, and Swiss chocolate in the aroma. The light-bodied cup is sweet-tart and a touch floral, with notes of honeycomb and rose hip alongside white grape acidity. Enticing cinnamon and macadamia nut notes emerge in the finish.
Producer: Gonzalo Adan Castillo
Farm: Las Promesas
Region: Ocotal, Nueva Segovia
Altitude: 3,280-4,100 feet
Notes: Swiss Chocolate, Honeycomb, Rose Hip
When Gonzalo Castillo purchased a farm near the border of Honduras in a region called “Regalo de Dios,” or Gift of God, it was mostly poorly maintained grasslands with a few cows and a considerable amount of pine trees. Gonzalo started by re-planting the grassy terrain with Caturra and Catuai. At first, Gonzalo had difficulties drying his coffees properly due to the wet climate of the area. In order to cope, he would transport all his production to the closest town of Ocotal, about 20 Km away. As he planted more coffee and expanded production eventually a mill was needed, so he decided to build a small wet mill at the center of the farm.
Gonzalo started with a very small coffee pulper but as his production has increased through the years he has updated the pulper. Now he works with a Nicaraguan-produced San Carlos system that is easy to use and requires low maintenance. The mill is also situated next to a slope in the farm in order to use gravity as its main ally for moving the coffee through post-harvest processing: from the receiving tank, to the de-pulper, to the fermentation/washing area, and lastly the drying tables.
Today Gonzalo has begun to explore technical precision agriculture. In order to do so, he has become part of a NGO that provides weather stations in his area. As a partner of the NGO, he can monitor climate in order to make more educated decisions about planting and fertilizing.
The Marsellesa Cultivar
Marsellesa is a Timor/Villa Sarchi cross that was created in Nicaragua specifically for resistance to coffee rust. The small plants are high-yielding and produce a coffee with prominent acidity, which in this case is mellowed and rounded by the honey process.
Learn more about Marsellesa and Starmaya, another new hybrid, in our latest blog post.
The Honey Process
After picking the coffee, all cherries are floated using a simple but effective system that Gonzalo and ECOM’s Sustainable Management Services (SMS) Specialty team developed together. Floating cherries after picking is not common practice in Nicaragua, and most producers go directly to de-pulping after picking. When floated coffee cherries are removed, the producer increases quality in a very easy and economic practice.
Gonzalo and SMS’s cherry floating system consists of a small water reservoir that uses a simple tube system to remove floating cherries and rocks; while a separate tube allows the heavy, best quality coffee, through to the de-pulping stage.
After de-pulping, Gonzalo moves the coffee directly to drying tables near the wet mill. The drying tables are made from wood harvested from the farm and provide a pre-drying step in order to eliminate excess water from the coffee.
The main complication for Gonzalo is that the humid weather conditions prevent optimal drying processes at the farm. He must then transport the coffee to ECOM’s dry mill in Condega (first part of the harvest) or Ocotal (second half of the harvest), to allow the drying process to complete in ideal conditions for export. Typically when the coffee arrives in Ocotal, Gonzalo arranges for drying to begin on parabolic covered drying beds or raised African-style beds. After the coffee reaches a specific moisture content, he gives instruction to move it to patios to finish drying. Gonzalo customizes this process depending on the coffee.