Last year on the blog, we asked the question, “what’s the deal with decaf?” It was a two part-er: the first part investigated why people love to hate on decaf and the people who drink it. The second part acknowledged that decaf coffee often doesn’t taste as good as the caffeinated stuff, and looking into why that is (answer: the process that the beans undergo to remove the caffeine can also strip it of oils and compounds that lend depth of flavor).
Currently, we’ve got decaf on the brain again because we’ve just begun serving our own house-roasted decaf blend at all our shops! Exciting stuff. The HubBub Decaf Blend is 20% pulped-natural Nicaraguan and 80% fully washed Honduran coffee from the Fincas Mierisch network of farms, decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process (free of solvents). We’re quite pleased with the amount of sweetness we’ve been able to develop in these beans, with tasting notes of baker's chocolate, nougat and dates. We hope it’s a great upgrade for all our decaf regulars, or anyone who wants to enjoy a late afternoon latte without worrying about being up all night.
Fincas Mierisch, where we’ve sourced this coffee, is an extraordinarily passionate, dedicated, and professional family-owned company with farms across Nicaragua and Honduras. Steve Mierisch is part of this organization, and also runs the Pulley Collective in Brooklyn, a shared roasting space where we’ve been roasting all of our coffee. We were curious to know more about Finacs Mierisch, and Steve generously offered to answer our questions to share some of his family’s story.
HubBub: Can you tell us a bit about when and how Fincas Mierisch began?
Steve: On my Dad’s side, my great grandfather, Bruno Mierisch came from Germany around 1880 and coffee farming has been in our family since. On my mom’s side, my grandfather started farming in the 40's.
HubBub: So it's a family-run business?
Steve: It is a family business. My sister is the dry mill director and my father oversees farm management. My brother and I work in coffee…we are not involved in the day to day, but we help where we can.
HubBub: Operationally, how does it all work?
Steve: My siblings and father manage their farms…we are in a sense a family coop without the legal structure of a coop. One dry mill processes all the coffee, where my sister is the director.
HubBub: Do you remember the best coffee to come out of Fincas Mierisch that you were able to try?
Steve: My favorite is javanica, very unique coffee, but like wine or a vineyard every year different lots are better than others. Mother Nature and circumstance chooses.
HubBub: How have you seen the industry shift, change or progress in your time in it?
Steve: The last 15 years has seen a dramatic change from a commodity-run business to a quality-based business.
HubBub: We've got a decaf blend on from you. What are your thoughts on the "death before decaf" attitude?
Steve: It's silly, people who drink decaf coffee truly love the taste of coffee. It's a pure love, not because they need a caffeine fix. They deserve the best flavor possible.
HubBub: So, you also run Pulley Collective in Brooklyn - what was the impetus for starting this space? Has it helped expose you to things about the industry?
Steve: I wanted to make roasting coffee an easier endeavor. I've been working in coffee since 1998 in many facets. The sharing economy, life experience, unique friends and characters along the way influence the decision to create Pulley.
HubBub: Finally…what's the best part of your day?
Steve: Chatting with my little ones in the morning.
Many thanks to Steve Mierisch for fielding our questions, and for all he and his family do to advance the business and culture of modern coffee. And remember: don't hate on decaf until you've tried ours! We think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good it really is - not just "good for a decaf," but truly a balanced and tasty coffee.