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El Salvador - La Montana - COE #1

September 9, 2007

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.

La Montana is a 5.6 Hectare farm in the Chaletenango region owned by Raul Ochoa Hernandez. This 20 bag lot, winner of the the El Salvador Cup of Excellence, is a Pacamara, a cross between the Paca and Marogype varietals. It has the large beans size and nutty, woody flavors of the Marogagype "elephant beans," and the power of the Paca, a Bourbon mutant from El Salvador that is quite similar to Caturra. The coffee was wet processed and sun dried. It scored 92.8 and sold for $15.55 at the auction.

Bob's Review:
This coffee needs a few days to settle down after roasting; but the resulting cup is well worth the wait. It produces a very intense brew with a powerful backbone, heavy on dark chocolate, stone fruit (cherries), molasses and a hint of cedar. This one will knock you back a few feet. It's power is reminiscent of certain Kenyan coffees sans wineyness.

The acidity is pronounced but balances well against the dark fruit flavors and general sweetness. That, plus its full body and a relatively long finish, rounds out this outstanding coffee.

Roasters - take into account that these beans are huge. You may need to give some extra drying time to penetrate to the interior, and then, maybe, slow the roast a bit more than usual near the end, depending on your roasting method. But above all, keep it fairly light to pull the best out of this coffee.

Jim's Review:
When I first tried this coffee a day after roasting, it felt like I'd been mugged by a Neanderthal. The coffee was powerful and brutish, with very tough acidic and astringent tastes. The aromas hinted at why it had scored so high in competition, and it cooled to a nice coffee cherry pulp and peel taste; but all in all, I found it way too much the first day.

Over the next few days, however, it became more civilized, perhaps like the Geico cavemen. It was still powerful, but it became possible to pick out the flavors. It is mostly pear, mango and citrus, with clove and wood flavors providing an astringent and bitter structure. There is just enough sweetness to the coffee to hold it all together, but it does not make a lot of concessions.

While people will differ on how it rates hot; there isn't much argument on how it does when it cools. All those astringent and bitter flavors fuse with the fruit to creat a wine like complexity that is quite wonderful.

This is a straight light roast coffee; although immensely suitable for iced coffee drinks. It does not do well as either a cappa or a straight shot, and it doesn't have any potential for darker roasts.

Bobs Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.4
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.9
Finish: 8.3
Acidity: 7.9
Body: 7.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 91.5

Jim's Score

Dry fragrance: 4.25
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 9.25
Finish: 7.75
Acidity: 8.25
Body: 7.75
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 91.75

  • Lighter Roasts: Rest it a few days. Citrus and pit fruit, powerfully structured with wood and clove.
  • Darker Roasts: Not suitable.
  • As Espresso: Not suitable.


UPDATED: September 25, 2007