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Panama La Berlina

November 29, 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.

The La Berlina Finca, in the Boquete highlands, was founded in the 1920s, and has been producing coffees since then. In 2000, they won several competition awards, and their coffee is of benchmark quality, year in, year out. Unlike the more famous Lerida region, the Boquete region has not gone over to intensive production and still uses the Typica varietal.

Jim: Panama is known for its classic cup coffees, which are hard to describe but easy to savor. This La Berlina is a fine representative of the tradition; one I'd unhesitatingly serve to anyone who wanted to know what Central Americans coffee was about. The wet aroma and flavor of this coffee are powerful with citrus and apple highs, with hints of cinnamon. The roast taste is straight "coffee-nut" with a hint of woodiness. The woodiness and a certain dryness comes to the fore in espresso shots and cappas. La Berlina uses the Typica varietal, usually good for a dark roast; but my tasting gives me some reservations, due to the dry woody note in the taste.

In addition to the above, this coffee maintains good balance from steaming hot to room temperature and for me, is the epitome of a "Central" cup profile. It's a mild coffee, but not too mild with just a bit of citrus, some roasted walnut nuttiness, a malty sweetness, and a hint of spice. Sounds like a potpourri of everything, doesn't it? Well it is, in a way, but it combines in a most balanced and enjoyable way. I roasted it twice once to city level for cupping and again to full city level for enjoyment and enjoyable it was! Your neighbors will love it!

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 4.3
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 8.0
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 7.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.3

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.0
Wet Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 7.9
Finish: 7.7
Acidity: 7.7
Body: 7.3
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.6

  • Lighter Roasts: Classic cup with powerful taste and aroma, slightly dry.
  • Darker Roasts: This is a typica, but still not recommended beyond the first pops of the second beyond which the dry woody notes may become very prominent.
  • As Espresso: Balanced but slightly overwhelming as an shot, woody as a cappa.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005