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Bolivia Calama Marka - #1 COE 2005

February 1, 2006

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.

Bolivian coffees have long been a standard for Northern European roasters; but have not usually been carried by US specialty roasters. Moreover, the quality and quantities of Bolivian coffees declined sharply as coffee prices fell and coca prices went up. The trend is reversing now; and some excellent Bolivian coffees have been showing up in the U.S. market.

The past few Bolivian Cup of Excellence competitions have had many high scoring entries. Each of us cupped the Cenaproc earlier this year, and it was a very pleasant coffee with a classic Central American profile. This one is very different, and had a combination of flavors, we've not seen before.

Jim: As usual, I roasted this to 430F, a light City roast, in about 11 minutes; and cupped it over several days.

As I've noticed with other coffees selected by Miguel Meza, Paradise Roaster's buyer and head roaster, this is a coffee with understated, but highly complex and nuanced flavors. In this case, the flavor combination is so unusual that I think this is a coffee more to be savored and reflected upon, than enjoyed. The dry fragrance is reminiscent of hard apple cider, with just a hint of vinegar. This also appears in the wet aroma, joined by hints of dark fruit, cinnamon, ginger, and dark distillate flavors. The taste reveals a buttery body, some toasted nut flavors, but the same odd combination of light roast acidity and dark roast distillates. The finish is dry and slightly salty in some cups.

As an espresso, the distillates and brightness dominate the taste, submerging the subtler notes; as a cappa, one gets a pleasant, but fairly generic toasted almond flavors. So I do not recommend this coffee for espresso preparation.

I had trouble scoring this coffee. The variety and complexity of the flavors argues for a high score; their understated power for a lower score. Finally, I'm not sure whether the flavors cohere or not; in some cuppings I thought the combination worked; in others I didn't. I would recommend not going by the score, but rather buying it if you enjoy a "coffee puzzle."

Bob: I roasted this coffee a bit lighter than Jim and got a nose full of sweet nuttiness right around first crack. That same fragrance was very powerful in the grinder and was confirmed in the cup. I cupped this side-by-side, blind, against the Ceneproc and a control sample and the differences Jim mentioned above, between the two, were clear to me as well.

The cup profile was malty with dabs of sweetened dark chocolate and roasted nuts , and some subtle tropical fruitiness. This coffee is medium-bodied, with a medium long finish and surprisingly high acidity. This spicy acidity was especially apparent as the cup cooled but was not at all unpleasant to this reviewer.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 3.0
Wet Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 8.5
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 7.0
Body: 9.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.0

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.1
Wet Aroma: 4.2
Flavor: 7.6
Finish: 7.4
Acidity: 7.8
Body: 7.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.9

  • Lighter Roasts: Complex, puzzling mix of light and dark roast flavors.
  • Darker Roasts: Distillates will dominate the taste.
  • As Espresso: Not recommended.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005