When Silviu first started as the Missing Bean’s Head of Coffee, the first thing on his agenda was to source coffee from the Fincas Mierisch farms in Nicaragua. Having formerly been the Head of Coffee for Society Cafe, he was taken on a trip to the farms by Society’s roaster, Origin Cafe, to learn more about where and how the coffee was being produced.
The trip to the collection of Mierisch run farms required two long flights. Arriving in Managua, Silviu was met by Eleane — manager of the dry Mill Don Esteban and self-proclaimed ‘battle-hardened coffee geek’ and her nephew Erwin Jr 2nd.
Their father, Erwin Mierisch senior, known to everyone as Doc Mierisch, is a third generation coffee producer and processor, and started his career as a Medical Doctor — hence the moniker.
Similarly, both siblings started their professional careers in very different trades — Eleane as a nurse practitioner and Erwin Jr as an engineer — due in part to the temporary loss of the farms the family suffered during Nicaragua’s political turmoil in the 1980s. The Mierisch coffee lands were seized by the government and they were forced to leave their home in search of a more sustainable future elsewhere, which brought them to Tennessee.
Both, however, attribute this unconventional career journey to coffee production as an asset rather than a hindrance, and appreciate that their respective training has given them the power to look at coffee production in a new way.
The terrain of the drive to Managua was dry, with no trees or grass, but as soon as they got closer to the farm, the scene drastically changed. Across their 11 farms — one of which is located in Honduras — the family take pride in their dedication to sustainability, following the goals of the Rainforest Alliance program to decrease water pollution, soil erosion, waste, water usage and threats to environmental and human health.
On Silviu’s first full day, he was given a tour around the farms that were easily accessible by car, to see the coffee plants amongst the beautiful views and taste the coffee cherries. But not before a visit to the Beneficio Don Esteban — the family’s dry mill — to check the raised beds and the microdots, followed by a family breakfast and a ‘mind-blowing’ Chemex.
This prepared him for the hard work ahead: tasting all of the coffee they produced that year, about 140-160 different cups, which took about seven hours. After calling it a day, Silviu was taken to a local Mexican restaurant for an amazing dinner and a few Tonas (cerveza).
Early the next morning, they headed to the tasting tables to try a small selection of premium coffees and a few experimental processes. Silviu remembers that the coffees were some of the best he’d ever tasted, recalling one particular naturally processed yellow pacamara variety that tasted like pineapple, mango and papaya.
The afternoon was reserved for visiting the rest of the farms, accessed by a two hour drive to a nearby village where many of the pickers lived, followed by a two hour horse-ride to the farms with the highest altitudes. During the harvesting season, most of the pickers choose to live on the farm with their families, and the Mierisch family provide child daycare services, access to elementary schools, and free meals. The family also have a strong commitment to gender equality, and are proud that roughly 70% of their employees are women, from coffee pickers to upper management.
At the end of the day, Silviu was invited to meet the whole Mierisch family at their home for a meal with a tres leches cake to celebrate the visit.
After hearing about the amazing coffees, hospitality and how much work and care goes into everything they do, we knew we had to source coffees from Fincas Mierisch. We now proudly serve two of their coffees: laurina from finca La Escondida, which is naturally low in caffeine with tasting notes of blackcurrant and almond; and Javanica from San Jose, which has tasting notes of cherry chocolate mousse and is the coffee we use for all of our espressos in our cafes.
If you’re interested in trying it out, we serve them across our Oxford cafés or you can buy direct from our online shop: