Serving the Roasting Community with Expert Independent Reviews



El Salvador Santa Rita

September 2, 2005

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

Santa Rita is grown at 5000 ft. in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range in the north of the country on the Guatemalan border, the oldest and best established coffee region in the country. Many growers in El Salvador are now using pulp dry processing to create heavier bodied, sweeter, espresso friendly coffees. This is a great way of handling coffees whose high end flavors are too muted in any case to produce outstanding brewed cups; something that was true of most of the commodity quality coffees produced in the lower lying southern growing regions. However, coffees from this high northern area are specialty coffees through and through, dominating the Cup of Excellence competitons, and are almost always wet processed.

Jim: This coffee lives up to its heritage. The power of the flavors and aromatics had me thinking that this was a COE entry, which makes it amazing for a regular channels, regularly priced lot. The aromas are exuberantly floral, not the perfumed, heavy type of Yrgacheffes or the Lintong, but with a lighter, flowers in the field feel. The flavor is a sweet lower toned citrus, like a mandarin with cinnamon in the roast. As the coffee ages, the flavors become more mellow and complex, and after five days it turns into comfort food sweet slurper.

I would certainly recommend a light roast, drinking it straight out of the roaster and for the next few days, to catch the full measure of the fast vanishing floral aromas. After about 4 days, when the top end has faded a bit, try it as an SO espresso using a high temperature and ristretto pull. The taste will be somewhat unbalanced, but still sweet, and the floral aromas will make it worthwhile.

Bob: After a light roast just beyond first crack, I found this coffee to be a very floral, flavorful, "classic" Central, mild and sweet, with a nutty, toasty, buttery profile aginst a background of caramel with a hint of spiciness, perhaps allspice, or cinnamon. I tried it many different ways: cappuccino, Americano, french press, vac pot and it was consistently flavor-packed in all of these preparations.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.5
Finish: 8.0
Acidity: 8.0
Body: 7.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.5

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.2
Wet Aroma: 4.1
Flavor: 7.8
Finish: 7.8
Acidity: 7.9
Body: 7.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.3

  • Lighter Roasts: Wonderfully floral, drink it soon after roasting.
  • Darker Roasts: Don't go beyond the first pops of the second.
  • As Espresso: Unbalanced, but tasty, with the flowers and sweetness coming through.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005