Starbucks Reserve Nicaragua Maracaturra: Big Beans, Big Flavor

How coffee varietals can impact the flavor in your cup

by Michelle Flandreau | January 23, 2017
HOME Farm to Cup Starbucks Reserve Nicaragua Maracaturra: Big Beans, Big Flavor

When you picture coffee beans, adjectives like gigantic don’t typically come to mind. But these guys defy that reputation. Behold the massive Maracaturra.

On the left, Nicaragua Maracaturra beans look rather large compared to average-sized Nicaraguan coffee on the right. Both are green coffee beans, the unroasted seeds of coffee cherries. 
On the left, Nicaragua Maracaturra beans look rather large compared to average-sized Nicaraguan coffee on the right. Both are green coffee beans, the unroasted seeds of coffee cherries.

Okay, in the grand scheme of things, I realize they’re still pretty small. But the Maracaturra varietal is a big deal in the coffee world. Let me explain.

Just like Malbec wine and Honeycrisp apples, my personal favorites, there are many different kinds of coffee. Arabica and robusta are the two most common species of coffee trees, making up nearly all of the world’s coffee production. (At Starbucks, we only buy 100 percent arabica coffee.)

Within the arabica species alone, there are hundreds of subspecies, often called varietals. They each possess unique qualities when it comes to flavor, size, color, productivity and resistance to diseases. Maybe you’ve heard of the illustrious Geisha varietal or Bourbon, one of the oldest varieties.

Commonly found in Nicaragua and El Salvador, Maracaturra is a hybrid varietal. It’s a cross between Caturra, known for its productivity and balanced flavor, and Maragogipe, a high-quality coffee that’s earned the nickname “elephant beans.”

“Maragogipe has big beans and is a low-yield coffee variety. The cross with Caturra was made looking for a higher productivity and better quality,” said Carlos Mario Rodriguez, Starbucks director of global agronomy.

Perhaps equally as striking as the size of the Maracaturra beans is the coffee’s complex taste. When you sip it, you may pick out many distinct, delicious flavors.

It’s kind of a testimony to the size of the beans. The beans are bigger and so is the flavor.
-Abigail Kroon
Starbucks Green Coffee quality manager

Only a handful of farmers grow Maracaturra, making it a rarity. One reason: Cultivating this varietal comes with a sizable responsibility. It’s a delicate, fragile plant that’s susceptible to coffee rust, a devastating fungus that attacks the leaves of a coffee tree.

“Farmers have to invest extra time and resources to control this fungal disease,” Carlos Mario said.

Its productivity is also lower compared to other common varieties, according to Carlos Mario. That means the Maracaturra tree doesn’t produce as many coffee cherries each season, creating an additional challenge for farmers.

Luis Emilio Valladarez (center) with his two sons.
Luis Emilio Valladarez (center) with his two sons.

On the Buenos Aires farm in Dipilto, Nicaragua, Luis Emilio Valladarez knows well the challenges and rewards that come with Maracaturra. With the help of his two sons, he’s been growing the varietal ever since he received some Maracaturra seeds as a gift from a friend.

In turn, his coffee has become a gift we love sharing through the Starbucks Reserve® program.

“By buying this flavor-packed coffee and highlighting it in this special way…I think that in and of itself is enough incentive to say this is something worthwhile, rather than pulling out the trees and replanting with something that’s a little bit more dependable,” Abigail said.

Now we’re offering our latest coffee from Luis Emilio—Starbucks Reserve® Nicaragua Maracaturra. With red apple sweetness, allspice notes and a hint of vanilla, Abigail says this coffee has the perfect blend of sugar and spice.

“This is one of those coffees that is really exciting to taste with other people because everyone picks up something unique to them first. But as you continue to drink it, you can come around to see all the flavors and how they combine together,” Abigail said.

As you enjoy this coffee, we hope the big flavor and big beans remind you of the enormous amount of love and care it takes to produce Maracaturra.

Coffee Notes
FLAVOR DESCRIPTION
Red apple sweetness and allspice notes with a hint of vanilla

LIMITED AVAILABILITY
Starbucks Reserve® Nicaragua Maracaturra is available in select stores and online.

Share This Article January 23, 2017 | 1912pike.com
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