Today is the third and final installment of my Café Integral trilogy. Previously, of course, with many thanks to César Martin Vega, we had the good pleasure of sampling the Caturra and the enormous Maragogype cultivars from his roastery. Today, though, we’re in a for a real treat.
What better way to conclude a trilogy than with a combination of the first two installments?
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of the Maracaturra cultivar from Cafetalera Buenos Aires, in Nicaragua. Feel free to pull up a chair.
If the margogype is the preferred cultivar of the X-Men (as I alluded to yesterday), then the maracaturra hybrid is something directly out of The X-Files franchise. While the margogype is a bit of a mutant anomaly in the coffee world, maracaturra is a direct hybrid—a product of cross-pollination between the caturra and margogype plants.
I don’t want to give too much away about the hybrid process (check back tomorrow for my Friday Feature about Hybrid Varietals), but I do want to give at least some background about the maracaturra.
Much like its maragogype predecessor, the maracaturra is an enormously large bean, from an enormously large cherry, which grows on an enormously large coffee plant. It’s quite a distinctive plant with its large leaves and flowers, booming out of the stem.
Also like the margogype, the maracaturra made its first appearance in Brazil and has since spread northwards to Central America, where it is currently almost exclusively grown. Today’s cup obviously hails from Nicaragua, but maracaturras have also been bred in El Salvador and Mexico.
Unlike the margogype, the maracaturra is known for its unique and complex flavor, delicacy, and level of acidity. According to Stephen Leighton of Has Bean, the typical maracaturra’s flavor profile is “bright acidity…very complex…fruity, and well developed.”
origin: Dipilto, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua
farm: Cafetalera Buenos Aires
elevation: 1250 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
I’m immediately struck by the aroma of this cup. Immediately, as soon as I started pouring water over the grounds, a bouquet of floral aromatics came bursting out of the cup—lilacs, rose hips, and wildflowers. Each sip greets the nose with a dash of cooking spices, basil, cinnamon, and clove.
While it’s still hot, the flavor of the coffee is pretty similar to the aroma. There’s a bit of earthy texture, with a flutter of flowers flitting in over the top and a pinch of spices that tingle the tip and sides of the tongue. I’m also getting just a little hint of peaches and apricot. As the cup cools off a bit, suddenly, from out of nowhere, comes a massive fountain of juicy acidity—like the levy broke, and out comes rushing a flood of green grapes, lemon zest, Granny Smith apples, and grapefruits—that makes the whole tongue tingle.
As the cup approaches room temperature, the acidity doesn’t retreat a bit, though it does become a bit more rounded and balanced. Now the coffee is finishing with a taste of almond, vanilla or caramel, and cocoa.
Light body; medium green grape acidity; soft, floral mouthfeel; clean finish.
the bottom line:
After the overall pleasantness that was the Caturra and the confounding experience that was the Maragogype, I really wasn’t sure what to expect while sipping Café Integral’s’ Maracaturra. I mean, I sort of figured it would be a blend of its two predecessors, but I didn’t think it would be quite so unique and individual in its own right.
The Maracaturra offered me a tremendous cup of coffee that was so incredibly complex that it took three or four cuppings until I started to recognize the taste patterns it formed. It’s a very layered coffee, offering the drinker an almost completely different cup at each stage of its life: it starts off aromatic and spicy, then it becomes sweet and a bit juicy, then comes a deluge of juiciness and tart acidity, and the consumer finally reaches the end of the rollercoaster with a sweet and mellow finish.
I really don’t think I can speak of this coffee highly enough. It’s every bit as rewarding as it is challenging, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
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