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Nicaraguan Specialty Coffee Good to the Last Drop

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 3, 2008 6:40PM


Having tasted the Holy Grail of coffee in October, we were curious to see how some also-rans fared, in comparison. By chance we came across a second place winner from last year's Nicaragua Cup of Excellence while making our monthly bean run at our local coffee shop.

2008_01_coffee_beans.jpgLot #2 from Donaldo Vanegas Cruz's La Unión Estate sold at the competition's auction for $8.15 per pound, which was one-sixth the price of the winning lot. Bridgeport Coffee House owner Mike Pilkington told us that he tries to buy Cup of Excellence beans from his wholesalers whenever it fits his budget, and "La Unión's auction price meant that I could buy more this year." In a switch from how Pilkington normally roasts his beans (his dark roasts would be considered light bodied for the average Starbucks drinker), he went with an uncharacteristic dark roast with these beans, which muted the cream notes that these beans were supposed to be known for, while heightening the acidity. We like good acidity in our coffee, and it stayed as the coffee cooled and the coffee's finish began to linger. Recounting our cupping, Pilkington admitted that the roast probably overwhelmed the coffee's flavor, and set to roast his remaining inventory slightly lighter.

We also placed a call to Intelligentsia coffee buyer Geoff Watts. According to the Cup of Excellence website, both Watts and Intelligentsia owner Doug Zell were part of the judges panel.
Watts told Chicagoist that he didn't sit on the auction panel for La Unión. At $12 for a 12-ounce bag, it was certainly an affordable purchase, and we look forward to seeing what other beans Pilkington springs on his customers in the future.