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CA Review Panel: PDR 1878 Natural Roast Cafe Cigar Review (Video)
The PDR 1878 Roast Café Cigars Back Story
In a first for Abe Flores, master blender and founder of PDR Cigars, he has added a coffee flavored selection to his stable of highly-rated PDR 1878 cigars. Named PDR 1878 Roast Café, the cigars come in three blends: Natural Roast, Medium Roast, and Dark Roast.
According to one report, the idea of making something outside the box for PDR started in 2018 when they reintroduced Devil’s Weed, humidified tobacco leaf that comes packaged in bags for blunt wraps. In what was apparently a shrewd move, Abe had his eye on the emerging market for marijuana smokers. For these new Roast Café selections, Abe realized the premium cigar market was also a big market for coffee-infused cigars with moderate competition, so he jumped-in.
What’s interesting about this selection is that all three PDR 1878 Roast Cafe blends are coffee flavored renditions of PDR’s 1878 Capa Natural (White label), Capa Sun Grown (Blue label), and Capa Madura (Black label) blends. The Natural Roast (Red label), is based on the Capa Natural, while the Medium Roast (Green Label), is based on the Capa Sun Grown, and the Dark Roast Cafe (Purple label), on the Capa Madura. Each features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Ecuadorian Sun Grown Claro, and Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro, respectively.
The PDR Natural Roast Café selection is very reasonably priced and presented in boxes of 20 cigars, 5-packs, and singles.
PDR 1878 Natural Roast Café Cigar Review – Robusto
Country of Origin/Factory: Dominican Republic
Size: 5″ x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade (Sweetened cap)
Binder: Dominican Criollo ’98
Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
Gary’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Excellent. In true PDR form, the tobaccos are well-packed, giving the cigar a nice firmness throughout, and has a closed foot. The wrapper is an attractive blonde, even in color, and sealed with a perfectly fashioned Cuban pigtail at the head.
Draw: Very good. Rather than cut, I twisted off the pigtail cap, which opened a very small hole at the head. Once the closed foot was lit, the draw opened nicely, and remained so throughout.
Pre-light flavor: On the bitter side, like vanilla extract. This could also be a result of the mix between the infused flavors and the flavors of the tobaccos. Yet, once lit, a total 180 degrees in flavor.
Toasting & Light: Pretty simple. Due to its closed foot, you don’t have to toast the cigar; just fire away. If you do, do it over the ashtray. I lit it as-is, and a slight touch-up was required to light the entire foot. From that point on, no relights were necessary.
Base flavors: Latte coffee, cream, cocoa, vanilla. Some earth and mineral notes emerge in the latter stages.
Retrohale: Lightly spicy with a slight cedary note, but no dominant flavors.
Aroma: Latte coffee and mocha.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. My burn got off to a wonky start, and it was breezy outside. The mostly grey ash was pretty firm and righted itself fairly quickly – another sign of good construction.
Balance of flavors: Very good. Mostly light notes of latte, cream, and vanilla that sail along nicely for most of the smoke.
Summary: I rarely smoke infused cigars, but when I do it’s usually a coffee-infused selection, so I was looking forward to this PDR Natural Roast Café. It’s much lighter in flavor than my usual go-to’s, but there’s an appealing creaminess to the smoke and a refreshing mocha latte flavor and aroma right out of the gate.
The initial mocha-latte flavors run consistently through the first half of the cigar, picking up pleasant notes of vanilla, cocoa, and a faint hint of cedar along the way. The sweetness off the cap fades after about two inches, and that’s about the point when this cigar transitions to a more earthy smoke, like a mellow Nicaraguan cigar. So, you could make a case for the PDR 1878 Natural Roast Café having something for both smokers of infused and mellow traditionally blended cigars.
Suffice it to say. . .I would have liked more consistent coffee-latte flavor through the entire cigar, but perhaps Abe did this intentionally. As Tommy noted in the video, the PDR 1878 Roast Café Natural Robusto is also an excellent gateway cigar for newbs seeking a neighborly introduction to infused cigars. For cigar smokers who have acquired a taste for more full-flavored cigars, the Medium or Dark Roast might be more in their ballpark.
I would have to put the Natural Roast Café Robusto in the “dessert cigar” category. If you prefer coffee with your cigar, it would pair better with espresso rather than regular coffee – unless you like your coffee black. But as we discussed in the video, dessert liqueurs such as amaretto, ouzo, Frangelico, anisette, or even a fine cognac, would serve-up a satisfying after dinner treat.
Jared’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Smooth with well-pressed veins, consistent coloring, and an attractively wrapped pigtail.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and sugary.
Toasting & Light: Roasted coffee grounds appeal.
Base flavors: Coffee, earth, leather, sugar, cream, and grass.
Retrohale: Absent and flat. Nothing additional gained here.
Aroma: Has an aromatic pipe tobacco aroma with hints of mocha in it.
Burn & Ash Quality: Straight and even burn, and the ash is marbled and leans to the darker side of grey.
Balance of flavors: There’s a lot of nice flavors here, but most of them only show up in the first half.
Summary: The PDR 1878 Natural Roast Café is attractive in its packaging and presentation, but the foot band was glued in place with pectin. Taking it off caused the wrapper to tear slightly, and since this action must be done to light the cigar, I’d exercise caution when removing it.
Once lit, there’s a shot of roasted coffee grounds which dials back to a creamier coffee appeal in short order. At that point, there was a large assortment of flavors. Coffee, leather, earth, and sugar were present, and I imagine if I were the type to enjoy a cup of java, it would go quite well as a complementary pairing.
At the halfway mark, the cigar began to turn. Grassy flavors were most forward there for me, but the roasted coffee appeal was back on the finish, and it made for an odd game of ping-pong as the two played off one another. It’s also important to note that, at about the same time, the flavor from its sweetened cap was gone. To me, that’s a good thing, but if having that sweetness last throughout is your kind of thing, it might be a turn-off.
Finally, the retrohale: It’s static and indistinguishable. There’s little additional flavor gained from it in this blend. The tobacco could just be too mellow for it to register in my nose, but I only started getting an inkling of extra flavor toward the very end. The good news is that if you don’t or can’t retro, you’re not missing much.
If the thought of an infused cigar has scared you off but coffee is your forte, PDR 1878 Natural Roast Café is a good jump-off point for your experimentation. The flavors are more subdued than most of its coffee-flavored cousins out there, allowing it to straddle the line between traditional and infused in some respects. Give one a try to see if it’s for you, and it might just surprise you.
John’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Firm, but with just the right amount of give. Connecticut wrapper has even color and a nice sheen, finished in a little pigtail knot and closed foot.
Draw: Tight, but the foot is closed. Once the cigar is lit, the draw opens really nice.
Pre-light flavor: The taste is dark chocolate with sugared cap; the smell is dead-on chocolate chip mint, almost like Andes mint candy.
Toasting & Light: Creamy, with a “fluffy” dark chocolate.
Base flavors: Typical Connecticut bitterness, along with black coffee and caramel.
Retrohale: Sweet and velvety, with almost no bite. Excellent.
Aroma: Smoky – almost like a pipe tobacco blend.
Burn & Ash Quality: Nice burn line, with a tight grey ash.
Balance of flavors: Just north of mellow, and the flavors vary in intensity.
Summary: It’s hard just to describe the PDR Natural Roast Café as a coffee-infused cigar. Just like there are different types of coffee drinks – cappuccino, latte, mocha, espresso, and so on – there are different types of coffee infusions: Java cigars are based on mochas and lattes, Tabak is infused with Nicaraguan coffee and given a sweetened cap, and there are three distinct styles of Nub Café. This PDR (along with their other two “Roasts”) strikes me differently than those examples, as it eventually settles into café au lait territory – hence the sweet and “fluffy” qualities I’ll be talking about here.
The sweetness on the cap doesn’t last long, and it’s a nice change from the saccharine used on some other cigars. Retrohale it for thick, sweet and velvety flavor – there’s almost no spice or pepper, and it’s rich in light chocolate with a hint of espresso and foamed milk – basically, a macchiato.
The sweet spot of this PDR lasts from the ⅓-mark to just past halfway, with some of the Connecticut bitterness poking through from time to time. By the time you take the band off, the cigar gives up its creaminess and most of its coffee flavor trails away, replaced with a taste of vanilla…and close to the end, more like vanilla extract that you bake with. What I didn’t love was the aroma: most coffee flavored cigars are renowned for their room-filling qualities, but this particular PDR Roast had a bit of a bitey, almost Captain Black pipe tobacco vibe to it.
Some of us like to combine a coffee-flavored cigar with a cup of coffee when we smoke; in the case of the PDR Natural Roast Café, I think smoking it with coffee is like a hat on a hat. Instead, this cigar stands perfectly fine on its own as a dessert cigar: sip some amaretto with it if you like that almond taste, or a pour of anisette if licorice is more your speed. Better yet – smoke it while you sip some ouzo, if you really want to get some Greek freak happening. These liqueurs are all often added to coffee as an aperitif anyway, so why not enjoy them in this arrangement instead?
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Firm, well rolled.
Draw: Smooth with lots of smoke.
Pre-light flavor: Quite sweet.
First Few Puffs: Sweet cedar.
Base flavors: Sweet cedar, mocha, vanilla, amaretto.
Aroma: Sweet again, what can I say…
Burn & Ash Quality: Nice burn and pretty solid ash.
Balance of flavors: Subtle balance.
Summary: I don’t normally smoke infused cigars so I went into this one with a bit of trepidation. To me, the pre-light taste and aroma was much like a pipe tobacco and I found it pleasant. The cap is sweetened with natural cane sugar which isn’t overbearing, but I don’t think it needs it because the cigar has a whole lot of sweetness going on already.
Sweet is the word of the day with this Abe Flores-created stick, but not overly sweet to the point of sickeningly sweet. But make no mistake, it’s a flavored cigar and meant for those who like those kinds of profiles. In the past, flavored cigars were made with poor tobacco, allowing the scent and the flavorings to cover it up, but PDR uses top of the line tobacco here which gives it credibility, as well as a crisp burn and a solid white ash.
I got a distinct cedary sweetness throughout which was very prevalent on the retrohale. Other flavors in the profile include vanilla, mocha, and a nice cherry-almond-like amaretto. What’s funny is, for a supposed coffee infused cigar, I really didn’t get a whole lot of coffee flavor. I had this Robusto at around eight in the morning with a good old regular cup of joe and was surprised how pleasant it was. It makes for a nice morning smoke, kind of like having a Danish or sweet roll for breakfast. But I think its main purpose it that of a dessert cigar, one to enjoy after dinner with maybe a port wine or a Grand Marnier. Its luscious scent and flavors will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth where no carb-rich cake or cookies are necessary.
If you can wrap your head around the idea that a flavored cigar might actually be worth a try, than this PDR just might be worthy of your attention.