Starbucks Reserve El Salvador Montecarlos Estate. Wow, that’s a big name for a coffee so let’s break it down. This coffee is one of four coffees to be released this October as part of Starbucks’ Reserve line. It’s from the country of El Salvador, grown on the Montecarlos Estate farm. Grown in mineral rich soil at very high elevation, this coffee is out to make a name for itself. All of the beans in this lot are of the Pacamara varietal.
What the heck is a Pacamara varietal and what is it doing in my coffee?
Coffee plants come in several different varieties. Think of dog species; cocker spaniel, golden retriever, etc… They are all dogs (or coffee) but there are different types. Pacamara is one of these “species”. It is actually a combination of two other species that has been cultivated over the years. Enough of this coffee geek stuff.
This Montecarlos Estate coffee is grown at 6,000 ft. above sea level on the top of a dormant volcano. Starbucks says the coffee has herbal chocolate notes with a medium body and some acidity.
Beans: Fresh, and slightly nutty smelling compared to most coffees. It’s roasted on the darker side, with spotted oils showing on the outside of the beans. You can tell it’s quite fresh, and I’m sure the one way valve on the bag helps this.
Nose: The herbal and chocolate notes are present. I’m not saying this just because it’s on the label; there are definite cinnamon and milk chocolate characteristics to smell here. There is also a bit of a buttery nuance. On the whole it smells like a warm and buttery chocolate filled croissant with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Mouth: Wow. Wow. Wow. Right when I sipped the coffee all I could think of was a liquefied Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds. It tastes just like it. Very smooth through the entire palette, with a slight spicy herb character in the background. Starbucks says there is a “delightfully assertive brightness” but I disagree. I would say there is an orange acidity character with a moderate case of stage fright. It’s not very prominent, but that’s alright because this coffee is delightfully smooth. It has a medium body (bordering on heavy) that wraps up in a rather clean finish.
Pairing: Edy’s Grand Rocky Road Ice Cream –> My favorite ice cream with creamy milk chocolate, bits of almond, and fluffy marshmallows. What a perfect pairing! The coffee mellows out when paired with the ice cream, which oddly enough makes the acidity easier to find.
The Big Picture: Another great offering from Starbucks Reserve line of coffees. Starbucks’ description of the acidity is a little misleading, so don’t think you are getting a big bright coffee. Smooth balance is what is going here (similar to their Galapagos Coffee). I’m now curious to see if Starbucks will differentiate with brighter or bolder coffees in this new Reserve categories later on.
If you like smooth, medium bodied coffees from Middle and South America, then you will definitely like El Salvador Montecarlos Estate Pacamara. Be sure to look for the buttery note in this coffee, it’s great!