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El Salvador Santa Maria Arabica Bourbon

March 7, 2007

This coffee was roasted, cupped blind several times and rested for periods from about 8 hours to 4 days prior to formal cupping, brewing and espresso extraction. For more information on my sample roaster and method, see our reference page.

The Santa Maria Coffee Estate is a family-owned coffee plantation situated on the slopes of the San Salvador Volcano above the city of San Salvador. It was one of the first coffee plantations in the area and has been continuously owned by five generations of the Aguilar family since Don Juan Francisco Aguilar Padilla purchased it in 1870 and started growing coffee. It spans 126 hectares (311 acres) at altitudes from 3900 to 5250 feet and grows the Arabica Bourbon rather than the Pacas varietal, a coffee similar to the Caturra, and widely grown in El Salvador.

The coffee roasts very evenly reflecting the immaculate prep and the aroma is classic Bourbon - sweet caramel and almond with hints of cinnamon. In the cup it is squeaky clean, light-to-medium bodied and mildly acidic, a classic Central, well balanced with unaggressive floral notes, ample sweetness set against a backdrop of baked fruit and mocha notes.

Roasted darker, to full city, its chocolate qualities emerge, but the fruity notes are not lost and it provides a deeper-flavored, less fragrant cup, as would be expected. It was a bit weak and non-complex for a single-origin straight espresso shot but a cappuccino captured it's character quite well.

But as one would expect, this coffee is at its best as a brewed beverage. It was equally tasty as a French press and prepared in a vacuum pot and although I didn't try it that way, I would imagine it would be just as good as a pour-over cup.

There are no surprises here. This is a fine, clean, Bourbon coffee.


Dry Fragrance: 4.3
Wet Aroma: 4.2
Flavor: 7.4
Finish: 7.2
Acidity: 7.4
Body: 7.6
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.1

  • Lighter Roasts: Sweet, caramel, mocha, almonds, baked fruit.
  • Darker Roasts: Toasted hazelnut, chocolate and roast tastes.
  • As Espresso: Sweet but unimpressive. Good as a cappuccino.


UPDATED: March 7, 2007