3 Roasts: El Salvador Majahual Tablon Tempisque


The Coffee

El Salvador Majahual – Tablon Tempisque

The Roasts

City+, Full City, City+ Stretched Drying

This is an extremely versatile coffee and one that is sweet forward. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of malic apple crispness and some citric too if roasted that way, but with this experiment I was after the sweetest possible roast of this coffee. I wanted a brewed cup that didn’t hit me right in the mouth with it’s brightness, but had more of a glow which supported the sweetness and mouthfeel. A brew that when served to someone, the first word out of their mouths would be “sweet” and not “the brightness is…”. There’s a lot caramel and cocoa to be found in this coffee with the proper roasting. I’ve roasted, cupped, and brewed this coffee many times over the years and have always been impressed with it’s consistency.

There truly is something special about coffee production like this, the consistently sweet and balanced 86 point coffee. The 86 point score doesn’t seem sexy, but the practices and skill that leads to meeting this standard year after year are something that we don’t celebrate enough in specialty coffee. So many of the evaluative tools used today steer us toward super bright, fruited, and floral coffees. These coffees are certainly lovely and remarkable, but they’re not all that coffee is. There are many folks who simply want something sweet and balanced. And it’s not like consistently producing something sweet and balanced is some sort of an easy feat. The point I’m getting at is that we should recognize diversity in great coffees, and if greatness in coffee is defined by only one flavor profile then we lose out on so much.

Getting the sweetness out of this coffee was pretty easy. I’ve talked a lot about stretching the roast to push sweetness but that isn’t universal to all coffees, and generally with most Centrals stretching the drying phase (unless for using in an espresso) can just flatten the coffee out. This coffee does have a lot of brightness which can be kinda punchy or brassy like a trumpet, so I did want to diminish that. What I found in comparison between diminishing the brightness with roast level as opposed to stretching proved to push the sweetness much more without flattening and thinning out the mouthfeel.

moonrise over the valley which Tablon Tempisque overlooks
moonrise over the valley which Tablon Tempisque overlooks


The dry fragrance is definitely the brightest with citrus and caramel. The citrus is more prominent on the break, but there’s also a bit of cereal malt. The cup is nice with some bracing acidity and graham cracker sweetness, simple. As it cools there’s a mild citric note and a really short/quick finish. All in all it’s a nice bright cup, but a little too sharp and the sweetness really diminished in the cool cup.

Stretched City+

There’s some malty sweetness but it’s mostly a fairly muted fragrance though the break had a mild cherry note. There is some pleasant sweetness in finish of the cup, but it’s a little flat. There is some brightness in the middle to the back of the palate but not very well structured. The cool cup has a lot of cherry brightness, but is lacking the cocoa sweetness. Definitely more of malty sweetness throughout the cup. Had this roast been taken to Full City there might have been more of a cocoa sweetness, but the structure was not as nice as the non-stretched Full City roast.

Full City

There’s a mild roast note in the grounds but also some promising cocoa. The break is loaded with cocoa and caramel sweetness, potent and long lasting. The break on this roast, while still having just a hint of roast was easily the sweetest, deepest, and most dimensional. The warm cup had some roast and cocoa right up on the front of the palate, but not too roasty, and there’s plenty of chocolate and some cherry in the finish. As the cup cools there’s almond and almond liquor sweetness with dark chocolate and a lovely bright cherry note too. This was the winner, the sweetest roast of this coffee. I know the slight (and it really was just slight) roast note makes a lot of folks nervous, but it really boosted that cherry, almond, cocoa, caramel sweetness.