Exactly one year prior to the publication of this assessment, it was the eve of the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. As we usually do, it was time to make our predictions for the five hottest cigars at the Trade Show. These aren’t necessarily the cigars that are the best, but rather those that are likely to create the highest buzz and have the best chance to sell out completely. For 2019, the Number One cigar would be RoMa Craft Tobac’s Baka. RoMa Craft Tobac certainly has had its loyal following, but Baka went to the top for a few reasons. First, while not RoMa Craft Tobac’s first new cigar since 2015, it would be the first totally new line that would be made available to retailers at the Trade Show since 2015 (others had been non-U.S. releases and line extensions). Second, the cigar itself would feature an African Cameroon wrapper – and there was a general curiosity to see what the company could do with a blend with this wrapper. Today, we take a closer look at the Baka in the Pygmy (Petite Corona) size.
In terms of the branding and positioning of the RoMa Craft Tobac, it falls under brands of the “Early Modern Man” side of the company’s portfolio (also consisting of CroMagnon, Aquitaine, Neanderthal, and Wunder|Lust). The Baka are an ethnic group of people that, according to Wikipedia, are known to have inhabited West Africa as early as 2276 B.C. Pygmy (which is the name of this vitola) is a term which includes the Baka people as well as some other hunter-gatherer tribes.
At this time, let’s get into the details of the Baka Pygmy and break down this cigar and see what it brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
While the African Cameroon wrapper is the featured tobacco on this blend, not much else is being disclosed about the tobaccos in the Baka. As with all RoMa Craft Tobac cigars, production is handled out of the company’s Nica Sueño factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: African Cameroon
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño S.A
Seven sizes have been planned for the Baka. Each of the seven sizes has been released on the company’s flagship CroMagnon line. Baka is described as a limited production line with vitolas being introduced on a staggered basis. In 2019, the first two sizes, Pygmy and Bantu, made their debut.
Pygmy: 4 x 46
Bantu: 4 x 52
Ota Benga: 4 1/2 x 60
Poki: 5 x 50
Acephalous: 5 x 56
Jengi: 5 3/4 x 46
Hunter Gatherer: 6 x 54
Each of the seven sizes is packaged in 24-count boxes except for the Pygmy which is packaged in 30-count boxes. The Baka Pygmy size is based on the CroMagnon Pestera Muierillor size.
The Cameroon wrapper of the Baka Pygmy had the look of a medium to dark roasted coffee bean. While a Cameroon wrapper on the darker side, there still was some mottling that could be seen on the surface. The surface of the wrapper didn’t have much oil on it. The texture of the wrapper had a slight sandy feel to it. Any visible wrapper seams and visible veins were on the thin side.
The Baka features the same banding design scheme as the other RoMa Craft Tobac Early Modern Man series. There is a thin rust-colored band with the text “BAKA” on it – in an etch-styled font. The far right of the band contains a white RoMa Craft Tobac logo. The charcoal band sits on top of a thicker white band. The white band contains a star that could represent either the star found of the flag of Cameroon, flag of Texas, or flag of the U.S.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Baka Pygmy. Once the cap was removed it was time for the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered notes of baker’s spice, orange-citrus, and earth. Overall this was a very good flavor profile on the pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the Baka Pygmy and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Baka Pygmy kicked off with more notes of baker’s spice, orange-citrus, and earth. In addition, there were notes of wood present very early. The wood and orange-citrus took over as the primary note. The orange-citrus delivered some sweetness with some acidity to it. The earth and baker’s spice settled in the background. Meanwhile, the retro-hale had notes of black pepper and orange sweetness present.
By the second third, the orange-citrus diminished into the background leaving the woody notes as primary. The orange-citrus joined the baker’s spice and earth notes. During this phase, black pepper surfaced on the tongue and slowly began to make its way toward the forefront.
When the Baka Pygmy reached the final third, the wood notes still remained primary. The pepper, wood, and orange-citrus notes were close secondary notes. Further back, there still were touches of earth and baker’s spice. This is the way the Baka Pygmy came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Baka Pygmy maintained a straight burn path with a relatively straight burn line without an excessive amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color scheme. This was an ash that was on the firm side and came off the cigar in clean chunks. The burn temperature was ideal. The burn rate was on the slower side, and that resulted in an average smoke time of about 58 minutes. In the end, this was a positive as it stretched out the smoking time.
The draw to the Baka Pygmy was ideal. It had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. While not a tight draw, I’m sure this contributed to the slow burn rate. Surprisingly, the Baka Pygmy also delivered an ample amount of smoke during the smoking experience.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the Baka Pygmy started out medium. During the second third, both attributes increased in intensity. Just past the midway point, both attributes progressed to the medium to full range of the spectrum. By the last third, the increase in intensity leveled off.
When looking at strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other nicely for the first two-thirds. By the final third, the strength took a slight edge over the body.
The answer to the question of whether Nica Sueño can deliver an excellent Cameroon blend is a solid yes. The Baka Pygmy was an enjoyable cigar. It had its own character in that it didn’t smoke like your typical Cameroon and it didn’t smoke like your typical RoMa Craft Tobac cigar. That is a good thing, and in this case the excellent flavor is a big bonus. There are two wildcards when it comes to the Baka line. First I found the Baka Pygmy cigars really responded well to aging. I’ve smoked many over the past six months, and they have gotten better each time. Second, I had an opportunity to smoke through the whole line (including the unreleased sizes), and the Pygmy was actually my least favorite. It will still a good cigar, but some of the larger, thicker sizes seemed better. Keep in mind that ranking could also change being put in an actual Cigar Coop review.
In the end, it is a bit pricy for a petite Cameroon, but nonetheless it still is a cigar I’d recommend any cigar enthusiast to try. As for myself, it’s definitely one I’d smoke again. I’d recommend buying one as well.
Key Flavors: Wood, Orange-Citrus, Baker’s Spice, Earth, Black Pepper
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop