Coffee Review: Whole Foods (Allegro) Honduras San Marcos

by on February 5, 2007

Plainspoken Coffee. A Coffee Review for Ordinary People by Ordinary People, #16.

The two major natural foods markets, at least in our region, are Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  There are more TJ’s close to me, but I’ve always been a bit frustrated by their coffees.  Determining origin on most of their self-branded beans is difficult, if not futile.  Some of their offerings are okay (the Organic Bolivian is decent), but even Coffee Review found most to be average (notice also the lack of origin info on most). More on TJ’s in this post.

Whole Foods, on the other hand, is much more transparent. Although they carry several additional brands (varies regionally), including Intelligentsia and Counter Culture’s Sanctuary line of shade coffees, Whole Foods features coffees roasted by Allegro Coffee Company in Colorado. Allegro is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Whole Foods, acquired in 1997.  The Allegro web site has a page where you can download their social responsibility scorecard and coffee sourcing report.

Today’s review is of Allegro’s Organic San Marcos from Honduras. It is a Special Reserve selection. Growers of Special Reserve coffees receive $10,000 to fund community initiatives.  This coffee is from the COCOSAM cooperative in San Marcos de Colon, Choluteca department in southwestern Honduras (red on map). Around half the growers of this nearly 100-farmer co-op grow certified organic coffee.  The varieties grown are bourbon, caturra, and catuai.

This is a light roast (full city). There was no roast date on the bag, but a “best used by” date of 3/23/07 and the healthy bloom when prepared on 16 January indicates a 12/23/06 roasting, or thereabouts.

As a mixed lot from a number of farms, I did not expect it to approach the excellence of the single estate Honduran El Puente from Counter Culture, one of my favorite Central American coffees. The San Marcos is also grown at a lower altitude than the El Puente, a factor that might also argue for points off the flavor profile. But the tasting panel agreed this was a really enjoyable coffee.

Like nearly all Honduran and Guatemalan coffees we’ve sniffed, the San Marcos had a beautiful aroma.  I don’t think I’d ever get tired of smelling beans like this, although the coffee rarely lives up to the (small) room-filling fragrance.  At any rate, the San Marcos had a profile typical of good Central Americans: hints of vanilla, milk chocolate, and caramel.  This coffee was very smooth, almost buttery, with an especially creamy mouthfeel that we thought added a lot to the experience.  This was, unsurprisingly, most pronounced when prepared in a press.  It was also excellent brewed, although I’d skip the paper filter and use a gold filter to preserve some of the creamy smoothness.  We give this 3.75 motmots.

Since they are so accessible to many people, we’ll be reviewing at least two more Whole Foods/Allegro coffees in the future.

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Revised on February 8, 2013

Posted in Coffee reviews,Latin America

Jeff February 24, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Hey there, I just gotta say, that this coffee is fantastic. As a buyer/specialist at a Whole Foods Market, I recommend this to my customers all the time. Especially since we are a store that roasts our coffee in-house, and you can get it fresh-roasted. It's great to read something positive about one of my favorites!

BirdBarista February 24, 2007 at 9:12 pm

I'm drinking Allegro's PNG right now, and it is really outstanding! I need to work on a profile of PNG coffee growing so I can have an excuse to drink more. Thanks, Jeff.

Ixchel Granada March 2, 2007 at 12:03 pm

I am so excited about this coffee! I worked with Honduran coffee cooperatives and my family grows coffee in Honduras and it is so encouraging for farmers to finally break through to top export brands that support responsible growers (especially in Honduras where our coffee has often been overlooked). I can just see the smiles on their faces in San Marcos! BIEN HECHO Y BUEN PROVECHO!

BirdBarista March 3, 2007 at 10:45 am

Honduras is a favorite origin of mine, and I really look forward to more trying more Honduran coffees. Thanks for writing!

Mac McLain March 13, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Hi,

Does anyone know the brand name of the Whole Foods Roaster. I think it is called an air roaster and would like to know how to get information on including price and possible models. Thanks in advance

Hi I'd love to hear from u? October 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm

Hi Ixchel, I was just in Honduras around the chetumal area and ruinas de Copan.. and i enjoyed the work their and the Coffee… i'd like to hear from u.. email me if possible email is hondurasthisweek at yahoo

by
"Cien Anos de Soledad"
have you read that book?

BirdBarista October 29, 2007 at 6:04 am

I've read a few books by Gabriel García Márquez, but not that one. If you'd like to contact me on a coffee-related matter, my email is located on the About C&C page.

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