Leo's limited edition Nira

by Marco Guagnini
Leo's limited edition Nira

In the last blog post of the "coffee memories" series, Douglas Orton delighted us with a real gentleman's coffee, a fully washed Sidamo and told us how its elegance and refinement could even touch the soul. This journey in search of the coffees that have left us with the most beautiful memories now takes us to Marco Guagnini, a Milan based enthusiast and known to many as Marek Coffee. Marco will tell us about his experience of an Indonesian coffee with a very special processing.

“Life is a beautiful and endless journey in search of the perfect cup of coffee.”

 - Barbara A. Daniels

I have made this sentence by Barbara A. Daniels mine, because that's exactly how it is. I too, like you enthusiasts, start my day with a nice cup of coffee. For this reason I have, we have, the possibility to try, every day, always different coffees, sometimes better, sometimes less. Surely, we will never find the so-called perfect cup, considering the multiplicity of flavours of our beloved drink, accentuated also by the complexity of using lever machines, but this must not stop our continuous research and experimentation. I never make a random choice. I study roasters, I find out about their roasting profiles, and above all I look for information on the traceability of the single-origin coffees they roast. The motivation that guides my selection is sustainability at 360 degrees. Environmental sustainability, to guarantee the availability and quality of natural resources; social sustainability, to guarantee quality of life, safety and services for producers; economic sustainability, to guarantee economic efficiency for the entire supply chain. 

One of the last coffees I tried, which particularly impressed me and that I would like to share with you, comes from Simalungun, in the region of Purba in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. This is the birthplace of Lisa & Leo's Organic Coffee, an organic coffee farm, implemented by a wet mill, an ECO Tourism Farm Stay Lodge and a training centre on coffee processing. Lisa and Leo have made the motto "organically grown and ethically sourced" their reason of life and make this extraordinary experience available to local farmers and roasters.

In particular I want to talk about a limited edition, made by Leo, a skilled engineer and expert in fermentation processes. From the harvest, at an altitude of 1'450 m, of the Arabica Typica variety, he created the "Leo's Limited Edition Nira", completely washed, starting from the special fermentation with Nira yeast. The result is surprising, a product of love to say the least, a Specialty Coffee to be treated with gloves.

The roasting, entrusted to the skilled and expert hands of Andrea Lattuada and Mariano Semino (founders of the artisan micro roasting company Little Bean, as well as internationally recognised SCA trainers) is perfect for espresso extraction: homogeneous, balanced, correctly degassed. As soon as I opened the package, I immediately prepared the 16 gram monodoses of coffee beans, which I placed in individual containers with unidirectional valve, to release carbon dioxide and prevent oxygen from entering, so as to guarantee maximum freshness from the first to the last bean. After a couple of attempts to reach the ideal grind size with the Eureka Mignon Specialità with diamond burrs, I extracted my espresso with a completely refurbished Faemina from the 1960.

Faema Faemina with Eureka Mignon

Setup used by Marco for this coffee

In order to avoid that the water pressure, particularly high in the Faemina, could cause a shock to the ground coffee with the consequent formation of cracks in the puck, I used a previously dampened paper filter that I placed between the shower screen and the ground coffee, attenuating in this way the water jet.

With 16 grams of ground coffee I obtained 28 grams of liquid with an extraction ratio of 1:1.8 in 38 seconds total extraction, including a pre-infusion of 12 seconds. This recipe allowed me to extract an espresso with the maximum sensorial balance and a pleasant elegance of flavour that was at the same time clean and round. In the cup the taste was sweet as malt, with a finish of toasted almonds and vanilla nougat. The acidity, which can be traced back to that of a crunchy apple, was slightly perceptible, but gave a pleasant freshness in the mouth. On the palate it was creamy, with an incredible and persistent aftertaste. With this brew, I am proud and satisfied to have been able to valorise a coffee that was refined and worked with love and passion.

My journey however does not end here, it continues in search of that famous cup of perfect coffee, which perhaps I will never find, but which will give me, every day, unique moments and flavours, possibly unrepeatable but certainly worthy of being experienced through the senses and feelings.

A warm greeting, Marco.

Lisa and Leo in their coffee cultivation

Lisa and Leo in their coffee cultivation