Coffee Review: Guatemalan Montecristo, Fratello Coffee Roasters


Guat_MontecristoCompany: Fratello Coffee Roasters

Bean Origin or Blend: Guatemalan Montecristo (Single Estate, Rainforest Alliance, Direct Trade)

Body: Medium

Roast: Medium

Brew Method: Drip and French Press

Price: $30.50/2lbs.

Before we get started, don’t forget to sign up for our current contest, where Fratello is giving away five 8 ounce bags of their Panamanian bean (details).

We’ve spent a great deal of time with Fratello coffees and have been blown away; the knowledge of the three brothers that operate the company is outstanding and their willingness to share with others is more amazing. Their website serves as an online store and a blog, which updates all of their buying trips, new releases, and general how-tos on cupping. Their RSS feed is definitely worth a follow (here).

The bean that we are reviewing today is from the Montecristo region of Guatemala and is from a single estate, Johann Nottebohm’s Nueva Granada farm in the San Marcos region of Guatemala (far Northwest corner). Johann is a 3rd generation coffee farmer and has worked hard to earn a Rainforest Alliance seal, only the third to receive such accreditation. The base of the farm is at 4300 feet and has views of Volcano Tajumulco, the tallest Central American volcano (14,400 feet), and Volcano Tacana, which is halfway in Mexico. This bean, however, sits atop an even higher peek, in a micro region at 5200 feet, the highest farm in San Marcos.

Johann, the farm owner, is in the process of building a school house for the children of the workers. The farm already has a church and a small market, and he pays for all the healthcare, food and transportation for the staff as well. This is the beauty of purchasing coffee from micro-roasters; you get an inside look at the farm that has produced the coffee you are enjoying. View some great pictures from their buying trip here.

A light to medium brown bean, there is a moderate amount of oil and a low sheen present. On theguatemalan_fratello pour the aroma is very pleasant, with notes of sweet berry (raspberry) and nuts (almonds and pralines). On consumption, there is little to no acidity, creating a very smooth and gentle cup, but a slight pungency is present which gives a good balance to an otherwise clean cup. Overall, the Guatemalan Montecristo is very creamy and smooth with a buttery body that coats the palate well and provides a medium finish in length and body.

As cigar smokers, we can all mostly agree that smoking a good cigar is about more than the finished product – it’s about all that led up to it (the crop, blender, aging, etc.). That’s what makes cigar smoking so great. I’m beginning to find this same appreciation for coffee and Fratello is one of the best at making the story behind the bean known. The Guatemalan Montecristo is a great coffee with pleasant and yet moderately complex flavors and an overall smooth finish. The price is right, maybe even less than what you’d expect from a single origin, direct trade, and rainforest alliance bean. Give this one a shot, or anything from Fratello for that matter, and you’ll be glad you did. You can purchase the bean here.