Los Delirios Organic Nicaragua Pacamara Special Selection
- June 2017
- Written by : Michael Sheridan
Director of Sourcing and Shared Value / Green Coffee Buyer
This extraordinary Pacamara varietal lot from Daniel Canales is proof positive that old dogs can learn new tricks.
In 2004, when Don Daniel was in his mid-60s, he broke new ground when his Los Delirios farm became the first to ever take top honors at a Cup of Excellence competition with a certified organic coffee. Since then, Don Daniel and his sons Milton, Norman and Donald have been applying the same reliable recipe with similar results: patiently turn pastureland into coffee forests, produce predictably sweet organic specialty coffee, earn premiums from your Direct Trade partners, reinvest and repeat.
Then a few years ago, when we has in his late-70s, Don Daniel quietly introduced a new wrinkle into an operation that was based since its inception on a narrow genetic base of traditional Latin American varieties blended together for sale: he planted a few hectares of Pacamara.
Pacamara is a mutant coffee, literally. Nearly twice as large as the Caturra that represents the dominant cultivar on Los Delirios, Pacamara is the product of two mutations: Pacas, a dwarf mutation of Bourbon discovered in El Salvador, and Maragogype, a mutation of the ancient Typica that produces massive cherry and seed. Pacamara splits the difference between its parents in terms of its size and productivity, and reliably delivers the elevated sweetness characteristic of the Maragogype.
Last year, at 81, Don Daniel offered us his very first Pacamara varietal lot. It was modest in size, weighing in at less than two bags, but immodest in almost every other respect, marking a sharp departure in profile from just about every other coffee the Canales family had offered us over the past decade and commanding the attention of our Quality Control team with the kind of elevated sweetness and persistent complexity to which we were unaccustomed in coffees from Los Delirios. After decades of producing reliably sweet organic coffees that cleaved closely to a stable and classically Nicaraguan flavor profile, Don Daniel and the Canales family renovated their coffee fields with new varieties, part of a broader renovation of their approach to the coffee trade.
Over the past five seasons, the Canales family has invested massively in post-harvest infrastructure and processing, transitioning fully from patio to raised-bed drying and purchasing a dry mill to which it will shift its operations in the coming years to take end-to-end ownership of the quality control process. These measures will allow the Canales crew to make this Pacamara lot even better, and be operational by the time the Geisha groves it planted a few years ago as part of its broader strategy of varietal diversification.. Even after 60 years and three generations of doing things right at Los Delirios, the best is yet to come.