THE STORY OF LA PEÑA NATURAL
You can take the same coffee varietal and plant it on two different continents, or in two different countries, or two regions within the same country, or two farms in the same region, or one farm at different elevations. But what if you took the same coffee and planted it on the same farm at the same elevation, and the only difference is that you took the harvest and dried half in the sun as is—just a beautiful, plump coffee cherry catching some rays—and the other half with only the skin removed? How different could the taste possibly be once the beans are roasted and brewed?
We’re very lucky to offer you the chance to taste this difference with our Nicaraguan coffees, La Peña Miel and La Peña Natural. This Yellow Catuai variety is grown by Luis Alberto Ballardez in a cool, misty and treacherously steep cloud forest in northern Nicaragua, near the Honduras border. La Peña is part of a larger farm known as Un Regalo de Dios (“A Gift from God”), and Luis Alberto also owns Beneficio Las Segovias—the dry mill in Ocotal where they prepare the coffee for export—which greatly improves quality control from the first picking to the final shipment. We first started working with him in 2012 when we bought La Peña Miel, and La Peña Natural actually came out of a processing experiment in 2014. The results were so delicious that Luis Alberto increased production by 400% the following year!
When he dries the coffee au naturel, the sugars from the fruit and skin migrate directly into the seed, producing a very concentrated flavor profile, so La Peña Natural explodes with the intensity of Pixy Stix. It provides a delightful jolt, much in the same way dried fruit can really zing and pop.
Since La Peña Miel is dried with the skin removed, but the sticky mucilage in tact, it’s considered a “pulp natural” or “honey” process. The sugars from the fruit still infuse the seed with sweetness, but it produces a more refined cup in which the deeper notes of chocolate and almond can come through.
Both Las Peñas are dynamic and full of personality, and it’s fun to taste firsthand how incredibly unique the same coffee can present under slightly different drying processes. Some days call for the relaxed familiarity of La Peña Miel, and others need La Peña Natural to dance around in that red party dress to get things going. We are proudly the only US roaster offering these coffees, so get ‘em while you can and let us know what you taste!