We’ve enjoyed a direct trade relationship with the Mierisch family for well over a decade now. Their skill, knowledge, and tenacity have laid the foundations for exceptional, award-winning coffee, some of which have become mainstay staples, while exploratory processes and renowned varietals have shaped sell-out limited edition releases.
Their vision, progressive spirit, and respect for the plant, process, and the planet are why we’ll gladly look to the next ten years of friendship with this inspiring family who tirelessly pursue coffee excellence.
FARMING THROUGH GENERATIONS
The family’s coffee origin story begins in the late 1800s with Bruno Mierisch Boettiger, a German geologist, who was hired by the Nicaraguan government to work on the National Railroad, and given land as payment. Bruno’s piece of land, christened La Lajas, on which lemons were being grown, has grown into five generations of perseverance, drive, and big dreams. In 1908, the first coffee plants were placed, of the varietal Typica, following tax initiatives to encourage the growth of coffee in Nicaragua.
However, in the 1980s, the Mierisch dreams were scattered as a result of the civil war. Farms were confiscated, and members of the family left for the US, not returning to coffee farming until 1996. In 1998, the family moved the business from a commercial, to speciality coffee focus, recognising the importance - and future - in growing coffee with quality and respect for the plant, and the landscape. The family began with Javanica and Red Pacamara varietals - and the rest is history.
Eleane Mierisch, daughter to Dr Erwin R Mierisch and wife Maria Ligia, is one of the pioneering fourth-generation members of the family. She moved to the US with her family when she was young, growing up in Texas and studying nursing, working as a nurse practitioner in gynaecology and women’s health. Inspired by her brothers, Erwin Jr - a Cup of Excellence Head Judge - and Steve, she returned to Nicaragua, where she spent time learning the supply chain, from cultivation, harvest, processing and preparation, and cupping. Her focus now lies in quality control, preparation, and client relations, and she’s a Cup of Excellence Head judge too. Erwin ‘Wingo’ Mierisch is the youngest generation. He joined the family operations in 2016, and today works primarily in QC lab, overseeing post-harvesting techniques, client relations, and sales.
“Origin is one of our longest standing direct trade relationships, stretching back over a decade. Our relationship has blossomed from a professional one, to one of friendship and admiration. Origin has stood with us during great times but, equally and most importantly, during the hard times too. It is during these tough times, such as the last few years, that our relationship with Origin has shined and helped us get through our challenges. We wish for nothing more than to continue collaborating with Origin, growing our relationship together."
Erwin Mierisch Jr, 2022
From one piece of land, and a vision, to 11 farms in Nicaragua, and three more in Honduras, the Mierisch family’s legacy just keeps on growing.
Here the growing season is typically November to April, with harvest dates increasingly unpredictable due to the effects of climate change, but in recent years, commonly occurring from October to March. The family’s farms benefit from mild temperatures and persistent fog coverage. None of their farms sit higher than 1,450 metres above sea level, and as such the plants thrive in shady conditions, with unique micro-climates and soil composition allowing for consistency as well as opportunity for exploration.
The Farms: Los Altos; Las Delicias; San Jose; La Escondida; La Huella; Mama Mina; Limoncillo; Los Placeres; El Encanto; El Suspiro; Laguna Verde.
A chance encounter between Erwin and another producer during the 2010 Cup of Excellence Honduras led to the purchase of the first farm in the country in 2011. Erwin Jr. quickly saw the potential in the landscape, which led to two further, adjacent farms. All farms sit at much higher altitudes than those in Nicaragua, located near the community of Rio Siguatepeque of the Comayagua department. These three farms have provided further opportunity for different varietals, processes, and experimentation–and award-winning coffees.
The Farms: Santa Lucia; Cerro Azul; La Alita (renamed last year from Lalita). The name translates to ‘Little Wing’, taking inspiration from the Jimi Hendrix song.
FROM FARM TO CUP
The Mierisch family’s patience and perseverance is one of the many reasons we love visiting their farms, continuously learning about their challenges, successes, and hopes for the future. As well as honing what works well for them, they’re always open to the idea of new processes, new varietals, and new possibilities. With at least 11 varietals being grown across their farms in Nicaragua, and more in Honduras, the family’s diverse range ensures a safe and reliable balance of high-production, quality crops, while also being open to exotic varietals where an array of flavours are possible. The family ensure they grow varietals, such as Ethiosar and Red Catuai, that typically produce more coffee and are less susceptible to disease, meaning they have room to explore more experimental varietals, such as Gesha, Tekisic, Laurina, and Yellow Pacas. Such diversity means there’s always a good return on their work.
Their passion and commitment to coffee doesn’t just sit with the plants themselves, but the processes that follow in order to bring out the best flavours. The family continues to work with traditional processes, such as washed, honey, and natural, alongside lesser-practised processes such as perla negra, and hydro-natural, knowing that there’s always room to learn more.
Los Altos is testament to our long-standing relationship with the Mierisch family, a celebration of a farm, its people, and the coffee. The coffee comes from the Red Catuai varietal. The cherries grown and picked go through a washed process, and the result is a consistent cup with a soft acidity and full body, with classic notes of milk and caramel, making this seasonal coffee a firm favourite.
Shop Los Altos - here
When Erwin (Wingo) joined us for our latest Meet the Producer series, the events provided a perfect opportunity to talk not only about the challenges of a few very unsettled years for the global speciality coffee industry, but also the opportunities for the future, continuing the family’s spirit of exploration and collaboration. In London, the audience joined in the conversation with ideas for the processing method of a new varietal in the family’s growing mix – the Pink Bourbon – creating an interactive process between producer and consumer, which the family are now looking to explore. This appetite for experimentation will continue over into Honduras, too, as the family look to expand upon their processing methods, having only worked with washed and natural processes on their three farms there to date.
The Mierisch Family's coffee is a key part of our release schedule throughout the year. View our latest coffees - here