Bite Size Review: Coopera Habano By Hirochi Robaina Gordo
It’s not unusual for cigar recommendations to burn through the cigar community like a bad Hollywood rumor, especially if it’s a really good cigar… or a real stinker. Like many, we get cigar recommendations from our readers, tobacconists, industry folks, the greater cigar public and even from friends and family, and some of them qualify for a review. Recently, a good friend of ours gifted us with a few cigars and one of them caught my eye, or at least a name on the band: Hirochi Robaina.
For those unfamiliar with the Robaina name, just do a simple google search of “Robaina tobacco Cuba.” You will be inundated with results of cigar legend, Alejandro Robaina, as well as the Robaina Family’s 140-year tobacco legacy in the vaunted PDR growing region of the far-northwestern reaches of Cuba. When the elder Robaina passed away in 2010, the reigns of the Robaina empire were passed to his grandson, Hirochi, who spent many years under his grandfather’s tutelage beginning at the roller tables of Partagás and H. Upmann.
In 2015, while making his first trip to the US, Hirochi was busy expanding his business by creating Nicaraguan cigars under his new brand, HR. Over the last 5 years, Robaina has made a number of non-Cuban cigars including the one gifted to us and now sitting before me; the Coopera Habano. Other than the facts that it’s crafted with Nicaraguan binder and filler leaf and that this happens to be a Cigar of Month selection from one of the many cigar clubs, virtually nothing is known or available about this line. If not for the “By Hirochi Robaina” signature on the band, the Coopera may not have even garnered a second look and perhaps filed away as simply another mysterious contract brand.
The Spanish name, Coopera, translates to “collaborate” or “work together,” so we’re making a wild assumption that this line may be the result of a partnership. With whom, again we don’t know and other than some basic facts about the cigar from the Cigar of The Month Club, we’ve had no luck in obtaining additional information even after several direct inquiries to industry folks, the Cigar of the Month Club, La Familia Robaina Cigars and even through social media.
The thick gordo presents in a matte finish which is soft to the touch, features a closed foot and is evenly firm but is otherwise quite unremarkable. The coloring is muted, almost to a diminished opacity and reminds me of a dry, toasted biscuit. The aromas too are a bit muted, but I definitely got the familiar leather and milk chocolate from the habano wrapper. Aromas from a closed foot are tough to discern but suffice to say – lots of chocolate. The cold draw is more restricted than most, but manageable, and there is a tang of raspberry on the palate.
What the cigar’s outer shell lacks in oomph, it makes up for in the delicious candy center. It begins with leather and spice and everything nice – notes of sweet oats on the draw followed by intonations of cream and red pepper then wrapped up with a finish of espresso. Almonds play prominently in the profile and finish and hints of cocoa powder grow as Coopera settles into a nutty persona. Transitions are woodier and nuttier featuring a hardy, well-balanced mélange of oats and heavy chocolate with an epilogue of woody overtones and a tease of graham cracker.
The mystery cigar gets high marks for combustion as it keeps things straight and cool, is a good smoke producer and holds a thick, 1”+ ash. Coopera also gets high marks for remaining so flavorful to the point that some of the profiles were eerily reminiscent of some that contain tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo. Yes, the draw was not great, but it worked and still allowed the big cigar to shine as it was very well-balanced and enjoyable. Maybe a punch would’ve worked better. You can find boxes of these guys for about $100 – $5 each – making you joyfully think the seller must have mis-marked them. Moral: don’t judge an unknown book by its cover. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Hirochi Robaina served as mentor to a young AJ Fernandez.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Gordo
- Length / Ring: 6.0 X 60
- Purchased: Gift
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Production: Unknown
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price:$7.50 [Box $150 MSRP]
- Humidor Age: 6 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Robusto [5″x50], Toro [6″x52]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:21
Draw: Open, somewhat restricted
Construction: Toasted biscuit appearance; soft, matte finish; veiny; closed foot; semi-visible seams; evenly firm; decent smoke producer; hold 1″+ ash.
- Wrapper – Leather, milk chocolate
- Foot – Chocolate
- Cold Draw – Raspberries
- Initial: Dominant leather and spice core; notes of cream; hints of red pepper; hardy draw of semi-sweet oats; long finish woth notes of espresso; develops notes of almonds and hints of cocoa powder; almonds become more prevalent on finish; settles into nutty persona with more oak overtones.
- Transition: Woody profile; hardy mix of oats and heavy chocolate; same espresso-like finish but with now with a nutty overlay; reminiscent of some CUban cigar profiles.
- Transition: More of nutty-dominant profile; notes of wood and fleeting hints of graham cracker; spice dissipates but returns like gangbusters; finish becomes heavy and spicy with notes of charred wood; becomes harsh and bitter with 1.5″ remaining.
Complexity: Very Good
Touch ups: N/A
Combustion: Very Good
Weaknesses: Restrictive draw, but manageable
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]