Episode 697

Milk chocolate and biscuit make this coffee an easy drinker, with the fruitiness of plum adding complexity and a little shoulder of strawberry on the finish.

El Fuerte was named in honour of the 'Fort of Samaipata', which is a unique ruin in Bolivia. El Fuerte de Samaipata (Fort Samaipata), also known simply as 'El Fuerte', is a pre-Columbian archaeological site. It's unique in that it represents the legacies of Inca, Spanish, and Chanè cultures, and it's one of Samaipata's main attractions. Situated in the eastern foothills of the Bolivian Andes, in the Santa Cruz department of Florida province, the archaeological site is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

El Fuerte de Samaipata is not a military fortification. It is generally considered to be a pre-Columbian religious site built by the Chané people, who were a pre-Inca culture of Arawak origin. There are also ruins of an Inca city built near the temple; the city was built during the Inca expansion to the southeast. Both Incas and Chanés suffered several raids from Guarani warriors, who invaded the region from time to time. Eventually, the Guarani warriors conquered the plains and valleys of Santa Cruz and destroyed Samaipata. The Guaranis dominated the region well into the Spanish colonial period.

The Spaniards also built a settlement near the temple, and there are remains of buildings of typical Andalusi Arabic architecture. The Spaniards abandoned the settlement and moved to the nearby valley, where the town of Samaipata is currently located. The archaeological site at El Fuerte is unique, and it encompasses buildings of three different cultures: Chanés, Incas, and Spaniards.

El Fuerte was a first experiment in developing coffee in a region with excellent characteristics for producing amazing quality coffee (good soil conditions and high altitude), but with traditionally little coffee production and no specialty coffee. After consulting with a specialised agronomist, the region of Agua Rica at the edge of the Amboró National Park – some 20 KM east of Samaipata was chosen as the ideal location.

Initially, several different varietals were tried, including Red Bourbon and Yellow and Red Caturra (although nowadays Agricafe, which runs the farm, has ventured into growing other varietals). Caturra and Typica are both traditionally grown in Bolivia and are commonly seen, but alongside other, slightly rarer varietals like Java and Geisha. Although there is little need for trees for shade because the altitude keeps the temperature down, trees were planted to protect the coffee trees from the strong winds that are common in the region.

Deciding to go ahead and plant coffee at El Fuerte was something of a risk, but it's one that has undoubtedly paid off. The location has proved to be strategic and the weather is ideal; so much so that a second wet mill has been established at the site, meaning all coffee produced in the Samaipata farms can be processed at El Fuerte.

Milk chocolate and biscuit make this coffee an easy drinker, with the fruitiness of plum adding complexity and a little shoulder of strawberry on the finish.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Province: Florida
  • Department: Santa Cruz
  • Farm: El Fuerte
  • Altitude: 1,550–1,700 m.a.s.l.
  • Producers: Fincas Los Rodriguez
  • Variety: Caturra
  • Process: Washed


Milk chocolate, biscuit, plum, strawberry

  • Clean cup (1–8): 6
  • Sweetness (1–8): 7
  • Acidity (1–8): 6.5
  • Mouthfeel (1–8): 6
  • Flavour (1–8): 6.5
  • Aftertaste (1–8): 6.5
  • Balance (1–8): 6
  • Overall (1–8): 6.5
  • Correction (+36): +36
  • Total: (max. 100): 87

Roast Information
Medium-dark - through first crack and steadily up to the edge of second, looking for the very first pops of second as the roast ends, no more to keep that chocolate and fruit balanced and complex in sweetness.