Bangin’ Brews: Wide Open Road’s Pacamara from Nicaragua

Wide Open Road Pacamara - The Directory Coffee3.jpg

I’m still getting through some of the coffee I bought on my Australia trip and there were definitely a few standouts amongst the bunch. One of my favourites is this Pacamara roasted by the guys at Wide Open Road in Melbourne.

The greens came from the Mierisch family in Nicaragua’s Matagalpa region. The 100 year old business controls everything about the production of these greens from the growing to hand picking in their Limoncillo Farm, and all the processing stages through to export. A farm doesn’t always get this level of control and it really shows in the quality of this coffee.

The Pacamara variety is actually a hybrid that was bred back in the late 1950’s by crossing the Pacas and Red Maragogipe varieties. Botanically speaking, Pacas is a pretty sturdy and resilient plant that can withstand some tough conditions and still maintain high levels of productivity, so scientists wanted to pair these characteristics with the larger bean size and overall lushness of the Maragogipe variety. If you’re so inclined, you can read more about it here.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Pacamara is the large size of the beans, typically screening anywhere between sizes 18-20. A reduction in density and moisture content at these larger sizes and also variation of these parameters within the 18-20 screen spread is thought to be the reason why roasters often struggle when working with Pacamara. Some roasters have taken to separating out each screen size, roasting them all individually and then post-blending in order to control the process a little more. Speaking with Wide Open Road’s Director of Coffee Dylan Hewitt, it sounds like this is one bean that takes an exceptional amount of care during the roasting process. “It’s hard to tell when 1st crack starts and there’s very little margin for error because once they hit 1st they develop really quickly”. In any case, Dylan and the team at Wide Open Road have nailed it.

My initial brews were a little over-extracted, perhaps due to the lower density or the softer cell structure of the Pacamara beans. I found I needed to go finer with my grind and reduce my brew time accordingly to get this tasting right at home. Once dialled, it’s pretty incredible with this natural process coffee offering up a fairly complex cup. Initially it’s like a light strawberry coulis, juicy as it flows up to the palate. Once there, that bright acidity pops out with hits of nectarine. All this sweetness is backed up with a hint of soft cocoa in a mellow finish.

Wide Open Road Pacamara - The Directory Coffee2.jpg
Wide Open Road Pacamara - The Directory Coffee1.jpg

Here’s my recipe for this one:

Aeropress inverted method
Coffee: 13.5g
Grind: You’ll probably have to go slightly finer than your usual aero size
Water: 215g at 92˚C (incorporating a 30 second bloom of 30g to start)
Agitation: None
Time: Brew to 1:45, punch it out until 2:10


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