The connection came through four different ways. Firstly, an Instagram crush. Secondly, an introduction from a mutual friend. Thirdly, a lot of Skype calls. And fourthly, a nine-day visit in March 2016.
We proudly introduce to you Ben Weiner/Gold Mountain Coffee Growers (GMCG), our new exporting partners in Nicaragua. Ben is a coffee producer, and the leader and founder of GMCG, a social enterprise run by an incredible bunch of people. They focus on helping farmers create high-quality coffee, acting as a "drying agent" (they dry other farmers coffee for them, in which the coffee is still owned by the producers throughout the whole process). They then follow this up by helping them access the speciality coffee industry of America, and now Caravan Coffee Roasters.
Ben’s focus on quality is like nothing we’ve ever seen; extreme lengths are taken to ensure every aspect of coffee production is meticulously planned and executed to the highest level. One of these extremes lengths they go to is the “Policía del color Vino Rojo”. These are a group of locally hired people, whose job it is to stay on GMCG's partner producer’s farms, throughout the whole harvest season. The Policía del color Vino Rojo are supplied with tools such as a refractometer to ascertain the average percentage of sugars in the coffee cherries at a producer's farm.
Ben’s focus on quality is like nothing we’ve ever seen; extreme lengths are taken to ensure every aspect of coffee production is meticulously planned and executed to the highest level.
A Brix percentage (% of sugar content) is evaluated by taking ten randomly selected cherries, as a representative sample of a picking; the juice is then squeezed onto a small glass panel on a refractometer, to calculate the percentage of sugars present. A good percentage is somewhere between 18-20% in this region of Matagalpa in Nicaragua. The harvest season is an incredibly busy time; the “Policía del color Vino Rojo” are trained not only in harvesting techniques but many facets of coffee farming. They have a broad understanding of all things coffee, including a thorough knowledge of recent weather activities, even trying to predict future weather patterns, as inclement weather can play a destructive role in the development of coffee cherries. They act almost like the equivalent of a handyman/woman, helping out in any capacity possible, including picking themselves and organising pick-up and drop-off to the mill. With this detail to training and the extreme level of hands-on interaction with farmers, they can help Ben and the GMCG crew to decide which processing method to use. Ben has a love of Naturals and usually chooses cherries with higher levels of sugar content to be prepared as naturals.
We are undeniably very excited by this new relationship, and cannot wait to share with you the incredibly high-quality coffee from these fantastic producers!
By Steven Hall