Interview with Eleane Mierisch
How did you start working in coffee?
My family has been farming coffee for five generations. I spent my early childhood in Nicaragua, and we later moved to Texas where I followed my father’s footsteps and became an OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner. I remained in Austin when my family returned to Nicaragua, but ultimately came home to be with my mother before she passed away. My brother inspired me to leave medicine and join the family venture of farming, where I have been full-time for the last eighteen years. My apprenticeship began by learning the supply chain: from cultivation, harvest, processing and preparation to cupping. As the Director of Beneficio Don Esteban, my daily focus is on quality control, preparations, and client relations. And last but not least I’m head judge for Cup of Excellence. This brings a smile to my face, as it makes me realize once again that coffee is my passion.
What’s a typical day like for you?
During pre-harvest season a typical day for me is visiting different farms with my father who continues to teach me more and more about coffee. From punning, management, coffee diseases, shade control and wet mill processes. While I’m at the farm I feel like I’m in another world. One of my favorite moments is during coffee bloom, it’s a wonderful sight that not even a photo can capture.
Once a harvest begins, what I love the most is tasting the different coffees and their quality. Testing the profile of the different experiments such as, anaerobic fermentation and anaerobic low temperature. And of course, as I have always said, an incredible coffee can surprise me, bring a smile my face and make my day that much beautiful. Cupping theses coffees is exiting because this is we where we find our jewels, our pride, and we see the result of great teamwork, as our goal is to produce excellent coffees.
What’s your favorite part about being a Head Judge for Cup of Excellence?
There are 3 things that I love. One is finding coffees with unique profiles.
Second is the excitement that I experience at producers being rewarding for the exceptional work done at their farms. It’s emotional to see the pride and joy that these producers have on their faces to know they would be a representing their country as ambassador worldwide.
And last and not least is sharing and learning from the entire team that supports the event, meeting new people that in the end we end up being like a big family in this world of coffee.
Who has been a female influence for you?
My mother. She led with enormous generosity, honesty and kindness. A pillar at home. A great example as a coffee working woman during times that gender inequality in Nicaragua was a living reality.
Professionally, I am inspired by my dear friend Susie Spindler, one of the founding members of Alliance for Coffee Excellence and Cup of Excellence. Susie’s work has always been equally guided by a strong moral compass and a focus on laying the groundwork for a resilient, equitable, and quality driven supply chain.
What’s your favorite thing about working in coffee?
What I like most about coffee is that unites us, every one that share the same passion for coffee. I see this with my team at Fincas Mierisch, my team at Cup of Excellence, the producers and buyers. In short, coffee makes us a great family, and one more thing that coffee does not discriminate.
Can you tell us about some projects you’re working on now?
At Fincas Mierisch we are working to continue improving our experiment of different anaerobic fermentations, anaerobic low temperature fermentation.
Rapid Fire Questions:
- Top 3 foods you can live without?
- Sea food
- Good wine and cheese
- Longest time in a cupping apron?
- The longest time has been 15 hours, it was in Mexico in the pre-selection stage, where we started tasting at 8 am and I finished the day until 11 pm.
- If you were a coffee variety what would you be and why?
- Without a doubt it would be, Javanica or Yellow Pacamara, Javanica because it is delicate, silky, floral, and elegant. The Yellow Pacamara because it has a strong presence, complex and structure, tropical fruits all over the coffee. And unique experience.