I’ve been spending a lot of time of late getting familiar with Central American coffees. Maybe too much time. I recently sprang for some of the recent Panama “Cup of Excellence” auction winner, Finca Lerida, and the best I can say about it is that it’s another really great Central American coffee. Zingy acidity. Clean cup. [Yawn.] I’ve got a shipment en route of the #8 place finisher, Finca Maunier, with hopes that it’s got more character.

I like the auction idea a lot… I can’t think of a better way to reward estates that try to produce a really great coffee. But if the judging is all about acidity, and not about flavor and complexity, I think we’re losing out on something.

By way of contrast, I’ve been awfully impressed with the Nicaragua La Illusion estate’s new crop. It’s a bright cup, but it’s got some real depth of character, too–some mysterious middle notes that are darkly pungent–and far more body than I’ve come to expect from a Central. Highly Recommended.

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