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Puerto Rico - Cuatro Sombras

June 14, 2010

This coffee was roasted in a PID'd Sirocco "fluid bed" hot air roaster and a specially-controlled Hottop drum roaster and was cupped blind against various control samples, several times, to verify the results, .

After cupping, it was tasted as a brewed coffee (Technivorm, French press and siphon brewer) and an espresso extraction. For more information on my sample roaster and method, see our reference page.

I have evaluated this Hacienda's 100% Arabica coffee (Hacienda Santa Clara), three times over the last 15 months; in March of '09, August of '09 and the beginning of this year. The company has just finished their new web site and now it is possible to publish this review with a link to that site. The review below pertains to the last evaluation finished at the beginning of January.

Here is a quote from the site:

"In 1846, Domingo Mariani arrived at Puerto Rico from the island of Corsica. He settled in the mountains of Yauco where he established The Hacienda Santa Clara. From The Hacienda he processed coffee that was exported and helped Puerto Rico be recognized worldwide for its coffee".

"Shade grown coffee was a common practice in those times. Although many varieties of trees were used to provide shade to the orchard at Santa Clara the most commonly used were the guaba, guamá, palo de pollo and the guaraguao; these were the four shadows (cuatro sombras) of Santa Clara".

"By mid-century, Santa Clara had to close its doors like so many Puerto Rican coffee haciendas. Now a young descendant of Don Domingo brings us the coffee Cuatro Sombras from Yauco, Puerto Rico".


The prep of the coffee sample received, had a number of defects included and before roasting and cupping the coffee, I removed those that were obvious.

This coffee is a very fine example of “island coffee” and among the better coffees I’ve sampled from Puerto Rico. The basic character of this coffee was consistent from cup to cup, with very little profile variation. Many Puerto Rican coffees are sweet and mild with no distinctive characteristics but this coffee is more aggressive with well balanced low tones, sweetness, sparkling acidity, and a medium-long finish.

The dry fragrance is classic, with deep, low-toned brown sugar, cedar, caramel and chocolate notes and some floral aromatics. The wet aroma has good depth with obvious brown sugar, toasted nuts, chocolate and a hint of citrus. The flavors are intense and complex with a profile marked by well-balanced sweetness against fine acidity, clean and classic flavors with low-toned cherry and black currant notes, semi-sweet chocolate, caramel and hints of spice. This is a medium-bodied coffee with a medium-long finish and lively acidity.


Dry Fragrance: 4.4
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 7.9
Finish: 7.8
Acidity: 7.8
Body: 7.7
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.1


  • Lighter Roasts: Perfect for brewed drinks - vac pot, drip and French press.
  • Darker Roasts: Also good but should not be roasted too dark. A darker roast adds complexity to brewed drinks.
  • As Espresso: A bit too aggressive but can be improved by under-dosing and adjusting the grind to provide for a 25-second shot for an ounce (or 30ml) of espresso. As a cappuccino it’s excellent, yielding a delightful sweet, chocolaty/malty drink.


UPDATED: June 26, 2010