We found 144 reviews that match your search for pungency. Coffees are listed in reverse chronological order by review date. Older reviews may no longer accurately reflect current versions of the same coffee. Click on roaster images to visit roaster websites.
Intensely pungent: black currant, orange, dark chocolate with a slight mushroom-like savory edge in the cup. Round, rich acidity. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. The savory pungency carries into a lasting, though simple, finish.
Crisply deep-toned, sweet with savory hints. Molasses, dark chocolate, pungent pine and cedar, hints of herb. Round, balanced acidity; smooth, lively mouthfeel. Hints of flavor carry into a long, resonant finish.
Crisply pungent yet sweet, balanced. Salt taffy, walnut, fresh-cut fir, chocolate, with slight hints of flowers and citrus in aroma and cup. Juicy, gently acidity; richly syrupy mouthfeel. Sweet, crisply drying finish.
Evaluated as espresso. Pungent, deep, richly tart. Dark chocolate, apricot, roasted nut, orangy cedar in aroma and small cup. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates in a resonant finish. Dominates two parts milk; perhaps shows best in four parts or taller milk, which rounds the tart pungency and better develops the sweetness in the chocolate.
Comfortable, inviting cup combines a cedary black-currant pungency, dark chocolate sweetness and a vanilla-like floral freshness. Delicate, crisply balanced acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Quietly sweet-toned, resonant finish.
Richly scorched wood dominates in aroma and cup, with hints of backgrounded chocolate, sweet earth and, faintly, lemon and cardamom-like spice. Acidity is entirely folded into an intense roasty pungency. Light-bodied, lean mouthfeel though with some smoothness. Roast-toned chocolate in the short finish fades to simple drying sweetness in the long.
Heavily scorched wood dominates in aroma and cup, with hints of faded chocolate, clove and molasses. Acidity is folded inside the scorched pungency of the roast; mouthfeel is light and leanish. The finish is bittersweet and drying.
Complex, deeply expressed aroma: molasses, dark chocolate, slightly scorched cedar, a hit of flowers. Richly tart acidity; heavy, syrupy mouthfeel. The complex aromatics carry into cup and finish, where a tart astringency jostles with a continued chocolate-and-molasses sweetness.
Very sweet, deeply pungent. Blackberry, black currant, fir, with a backgrounded dark chocolate in aroma and cup. Pungent though rather muted acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Richly drying finish.
Evaluated as espresso. Vanilla-toned chocolate, low-acid, mango-like fruit in the aroma. In the small cup smoothly syrupy mouthfeel, a slight tart brightness, cedary pungency, and continued chocolate and fruit that carry into a quietly resonant finish. Balanced and simple in two parts milk, with the chocolate dominating.
Evaluated as espresso. Deep and sweet in the aroma with mint- and brandy-toned dark chocolate, apricot, peach. In the cup the chocolate and fruit turn crisp and salty-savory with an anise-like pungency. Lightly syrupy mouthfeel; rich, heavyish, bittersweet finish. In two parts milk the coffee recovers its lift and sweetness with the chocolate and stone fruit softening and blooming.
Sweetly and gently pungent. Dark chocolate, cedar, walnut, a hint of orangy fruit in aroma and cup. Roast-rounded acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Some chocolate sweetness lingers in a rather dry, roasty finish.
Balanced, quietly complex traditional Sumatra profile. Gently pungent, sweet-toned in aroma and cup: ripe lemon, dark chocolate, cedar, a hint of earthy fresh-fallen leaves. Round, functional acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Clean, rich finish.
Evaluated as espresso. Sweetly pungent. Dark chocolate, slightly scorched cedar, and a lush, coconut-like fruit in aroma and small cup. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. Sweetly chocolaty short finish but mildly drying in the long. Excellent presence in two parts milk, where chocolate, cedar and fruit all persist.
Evaluated as espresso. Richly sweet, custardy milk chocolate notes dominate aroma and flavor, saved from simplicity by a green apple tartness and a hint of cedary pungency. The finish in the small cup is surprisingly tight and drying, but the roundly sweet, mousse-like chocolate notes and the hint of tart fruit make an impressive return in two parts milk.
(As brewed in a Senseo single-serve brewing device to produce a 4+-ounce serving): Some genuine Sumatra character lifts its head out of a woody astringency probably related to paper pod brewing generally and the water quality of our sample Senseo machine in particular. On the positive side, pruny sweetness and a hint of earthy, butterscotchy Sumatra pungency in aroma and cup.
Round, candied orange peel and nut-toned chocolate in the aroma. Light in body but rich in flavor with pungent notes of walnut, aromatic wood and ripe orange. Sustained bittersweet chocolate pungency in the finish. Intensity of the small cup softens in two parts milk; sweet nut and orange tones dominate.
A tactful ultra-dark roast dominates a cleanly sweet green coffee: Gently charred aromatic wood with a backgrounded dark-chocolate sweetness and a hint of flowers at the top. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel; slightly astringent finish.
Great character in this darker roasted, dried-in-the-cherry profile. Pungent, complex aroma: cedar, roasted nut, toast, lemon, herby dark chocolate. Roast-muted acidity, silky mouthfeel. The fragrant cedary wood notes, flowers and ripe lemon in particular dominate flavor, but chocolate surfaces again in the sweet if lightly astringent finish.
Rich, sweet-toned aroma: flowers, hints of earth, aromatic wood, nut-toned chocolate. In the cup low-toned but vibrant acidity, silky mouthfeel, continued earth tones that take on a grapefruit-like pungency under the impact of the acidity. Some continuing hints of flowers and nut. Rich, simple finish with a hint of astringency.
Mild earth-toned aroma with hints of chocolate and soft nut. Full body, creamy mouthfeel and flavors that tend toward an earthy pungency with a pronounced dark chocolate complication. The pungent edge lingers long into the dry finish.
Sweet, richly roasty, cocoa-toned aroma. In the cup smooth mouthfeel, soft acidity and roasty pungency with suggestions of nut and toasted grain and, as the cup cools, black currant and butterscotch. The dominant flavor notes linger in a long, dry finish.
Tart, grapefruity pungency, hints of sweet cocoa and nut in both aroma and cup. Subdued acidity, lean but silky mouthfeel, good flavor persistence into the finish. A very slight salty astringency shadows an otherwise impressive cup.
Straightforward aroma with good intensity, exhibiting aromatic pine wood and a soft but pungent suggestion of smokiness. In the cup soft acidity, full body, smooth mouthfeel and round sweet flavors of toasted nut, mild roastiness and caramelized sugars. The roasty note turns toward pungency in the finish, distracting slightly from the sweetness.
Pungent aromatic notes of roasty cinnamon and a muted fruitiness. In the cup, full body, smooth acidity and continued pronounced pungency with the fruit note becoming more distinct and cherry-like. The dry finish leans toward the bitter side of bittersweet chocolate.
Balanced notes of pungent cedar, sweet-toned chocolate and a whisper of sage in the aroma. Intense in the cup: sherry, nut, earth and a continuing dry cedary or herb-like pungency, all persisting in the long, dry finish.
Sweetly round aroma with hints of tropical fruit and wood. Soft acidity, full body, delicate mouthfeel with flavors of sweet grapefruit, cedar, earth and dark chocolate. A mildly astringent roasty pungency emerges in the short finish that softens and sweetens in the long.
In aroma and cup soft, honey-like sweetness with round fruit tones and a hint of flowers. Bright acidity, medium body, silky mouthfeel, continued softly stated fruit and floral notes with an added hint of lemon. Finishes cleanly with a muted but rich pungency.
Sweet caramel-toned aroma with a mild roasty pungency and soft, backgrounded fruit. The sweetness and aromatic notes carry into the cup and complicate as the cup cools, revealing a distinct black currant and cherry-chocolate character. The pungent roastiness lingers softly in the finish.
A rather dark roast develops charred fir, roasted nut, dark chocolate and pungent grapefruit notes in both aroma and cup. Roast-muted acidity, syrupy if slightly rough mouthfeel, good sweetness and flavor in the short finish, fading to a mild herby astringency in the long.
"It's sweet," reports co-cupper Andy Newbom (90); Ken (90) agrees, though Ken is most impressed by the way sweetness is balanced by a deep pungency. Perhaps that's what Andy is describing when he cites "Warm peaches and apple blossoms with hints of dark cherry" in the aroma. Lemon figures prominently in Andy's descriptors of acidity and cup, tart berry in Ken's. Both find suggestions of cocoa nibs, chocolate, and cassis. Andy finds "an intriguing lavender ... note" in a finish that Ken describes more generally as "sweet, rich and deep."
Ken (93) favored this coffee considerably more than did co-cupper Jim Reynolds (89) despite the fact that both described it in similar terms. Ken was taken by floral qualities in aroma and cup, an essential sweetness, and what he called a complimentary "cocoaish dry fruit," doubtless the same sensation as Jim describes positively as "pungent" and "spicy and nutty." Both agreed that the acidity was gentle, though Ken scored it higher and described it as "crisp and sweet." Both found the mouthfeel attractively smooth and the finish long and flavor-saturated.
Co-cupper Jim Reynolds (91) praised a "spicy pungency" in the aroma and a smooth, balanced acidity. Ken (89) agreed. Both found the pungent character carrying into the cup, complicated for Ken by hints of flowers and cocoa. Simple but satisfying finish. Jim found the body "balanced in the light to medium range" but Ken found the mouthfeel a bit lean, accounting for his somewhat lower score.
A graceful floral-toned cocoa dominates. In the aroma very sweet-toned, buttery pungency, flowering grass, orangy citrus. In the cup, gentle, roast-muted acidity, silky mouthfeel, and the impressive floral-toned cocoa that persists into a rich finish.
Complex espresso with a savory-sweet character and a wide sensory range. Co-taster Byron Holcomb (91) associated the savory-sweet tendencies with Southern comfort food, but for those who don't know sweet collard greens and carrots in butter he helpfully elaborates: The aroma displays "honey, clove and green veggies," the body is heavy, the flavor in the small cup "light and bright with nice notes of sweet and sour." Ken (91) more prosaically reads a smoky, slightly salty pungency complicated by lively floral-fruit top notes. Fades slightly in four parts milk but retains a pleasing floral and savory vegetable character complicating the usual milk-influenced chocolate.
Both Ken (90) and co-taster Byron Holcomb (89) enjoyed this blend's natural sweetness. Ken found the sweetness balanced by a "gentle pungency," which could have been another term for what Byron described as dry berry or black currant notes. The aroma was delicate and "floral" (Byron), the mouthfeel buttery for Ken and nectar-like for Byron. Nicely balanced and gently chocolaty in four parts hot milk.
Ken (93) and co-cupper Jennifer Stone (92) both remarked on the bright, richly floral character of the aroma. In the cup quietly vibrant acidity, smooth mouthfeel, continued gentle richness, with a flavor complex that combines lush night flowers with a sweet pungency pointing at cedar, caramel and deep-toned, carnal fruit: apricot, mango. Long, deep finish.
Lemon, apple, moist fallen leaves in aroma and cup, supported by a sweet pungency that suggests fresh-cut cedar or butterscotch. Round, full mouthfeel, quiet acidity, long, resonant finish.
Lavishly sweet and deeply pungent aroma. Grapefruit, cherry, moist leaf notes carry from aroma to cup to finish. Richly resonant acidity, dense body and a continued great sweetness and intense pungency in the cup. The finish is very slightly astringent but resonantly flavor saturated.
In the aroma cedary pungency, caramel, hints of low-toned fruit and flowers. In the cup a sweet-toned, balanced acidity, silky mouthfeel, continued cedar-toned pungency and a sweetly tart citrus -- lime or Meyer lemon. Continued hint of flowers. The lime-lemon suggestion carries into a simple, clean finish.
An easy cup to describe but a difficult one to rate, given that canned blends of this kind are hardly coffee at all in the traditional understanding of the term, rather another kind of beverage altogether: no acidity or brightness, sweet but woody, with an herby, peppery pungency and a molasses note that aspires to chocolate but doesn't quite make it past the wood and herb. Smoothes out in a neutral but pleasantly sweet finish. We gave it the benefit of the doubt at 81.
Sweet-toned, deep, slightly smoky aroma: aromatic wood, a hint of dark chocolate. In the small cup medium-bodied, but the pungent dark chocolate notes amplify and move forward, complicated by aromatic wood, walnut, even licorice. Long, resonant, chocolate-saturated finish. Dominates milk with a smoky heaviness that resolves quickly into a milk-sweetened version of the now familiar dark chocolate note.
A very sweet-toned coffee with a balancing crisp pungency. Roasted nut notes turned up in aroma and cup for both Ken (89) and co-cupper Ted Stachura (86) with low-acid fruit notes that Ken read as raisin and Ted as cherry. Ken found cocoa and dusk-floral notes in both cup and finish, which perhaps accounts for his higher rating.
Deep-toned, cherryish fruit and pungent aromatic wood in the aroma. In the cup pronounced, citrus-toned acidity, full mouthfeel, bittersweet structure, with continued hints of cherry, cocoa, and a pungent wood or tomato note. The cocoa turns toward chocolate in the long, rich finish.
Pure, refreshing coffee. Sweetly acidy and honey-toned in the aroma, with floral and coffee fruit (tart cherry) notes. In the cup softly acidy, delicate in mouthfeel, crisp but very sweet in structure, with continued notes of tart coffee cherry, honey and flowers, together with a slight, deepening butterscotch-like pungency. In the finish the sweetness fades, but the fundamental flavor notes persist far into the long finish.
Crisp aroma distinct baker's chocolate and hints of raisin and pungent, fresh-cut cedar. In the cup quiet, balanced, softly acidy, gently bittersweet, with continued baker's chocolate and raisin notes. Rich, softly astringent finish.
A sweet, crisp, delicately rich pungency dominates the character of this quiet coffee. Prune/raisin, butter, dark chocolate, lavender-like floral notes in aroma and cup. Balanced, gentle acidity and a medium body with silky mouthfeel. The flowers and chocolate carry into a long, clean, very impressive finish.
In the aroma the fruity earth tones display an almost candied sweetness paired with a moist-leaf pungency. In the cup medium in body but silky in mouthfeel, with continued candied fruit and moist leaf notes that together hint at a host of associations ranging from chocolate to butterscotch to tartly sweet grapefruit. The flavor-saturated finish is a bit astringent when the cup is hot, but rounds nicely as it cools.
Very sweet-toned aroma with hints of honey, lemon, flowers and a slight cedary pungency. In the cup the acidity is quietly soft but wine-like, the mouthfeel silky, the flavor dominated by a continued honeyed sweetness and a balancing cocoa and walnut crispness.
Intense aroma in a narrow range: pungent rosemary-like herb notes, an orangy citrus, and some slightly charred wood notes. In the cup lean-bodied but forceful, dominated by a grapefruity pungency with a slight charred edge that with imagination reads as a semi-sweet chocolate. The chocolate is explicit, however, in the impressively sweet, long finish.
Very impressive aroma: sweet, deep, with a gently rounded pungency and distinct grapefruit notes with background cedar and semi-sweet chocolate. Medium-bodied with a smooth, astringency-free mouthfeel. The aromatics simplify in the cup and finish, although they remain pleasing: continued round pungency and a roasty semi-sweet chocolate. Rich finish with only slight astringency.
A versatile espresso with a pungent authority that should serve particularly well in big milk drinks. Slightly spicy, apricot- or mango-toned fruit in the deeply sweet-impressioned aroma. In the small cup displays full, syrupy body and a rather opulently sweet, chocolate-toned richness with a balancing cedar pungency. Slight astringency in the long finish. In milk rounds and blossoms nicely but dominates with semi-sweet chocolate authority and a slight but discernible astringent edge in the finish.
In the aroma intense, pungent with grapefruit and cedar notes. In the cup full-bodied, with the dominating earthy pungency enveloped in deep sweetness. Continued grapefruit, pineapple and cedar notes settle toward honey and chocolate. Sweet, resonant, rich finish, totally free of astringency.
A whisper of an aroma, but a complex one: flowering grass, caramel, honey, a hint of chocolate. Amazingly sweet and delicately lush in the cup, with the honey notes intensifying and the floral notes declaring as spicy tea rose. The honey and floral notes persist in the surprisingly long, resonant finish.
Gently pungent cedar and pear-toned fruit in the aroma. In the cup sweetly and richly acidy with a continued pungent edge that hints at chocolate. The long, robust-on-the-edge-of-rough finish suggests that the attractive pungency of the profile may in part be powered by a slight, felicitous mustiness in one of the blend's green coffees.
Sweet-toned, round, caramelly aroma with hints of flowers and pears or peach. In the small cup full-bodied with a dominating sweet, cedary pungency complicated by raisiny fruit and dark chocolate with a slight whiff of brandyish ferment. In milk balanced and rich, with continued semi-sweet chocolate, richly grapy ferment and even a surprising resurfacing of flowers.
A rich and vividly fermented fruit dominates. The cherry-toned ferment is overlaid by a cedary roastiness in the aroma. In the cup the ferment deepens toward a dark chocolate and brandied cherry, but also displays a distracting pine or rosemary pungency. Smoothes out toward a cleanly rich chocolate in the short finish, though slightly astringent in the long.
An attractive if underpowered espresso. Muted notes of flowers, fruit and chocolate in the aroma. In the small cup medium-bodied, supple in mouthfeel, but limited in flavor: some floral hints persist but the main impression is a thinnish pungency that Ken (87) called smoky and co-taster Ted Lingle (86) spicy. Nevertheless, rounds and richens in the finish, and reveals a round, semi-sweet chocolate character in milk. Nominating reader Andrey Akselrod says simply "It is one of my favorite espressos."
Complex but balanced. The acidity is sweet and winy, the body medium but round in mouthfeel, the general impression delicate but rich. Milk chocolate, fruit (lemon, apricot, papaya) and a slight cedar pungency run through the profile from aroma to the pleasingly light-footed finish.
A past-crop green coffee that faded badly in storage before roasting. The dominating character is a pungency that reads as sweet pine in the aroma and a rather salty spice in the cup.
Low-key, bittersweet and roasty in the aroma with suggestions of apple and charred cedar. In the cup sweet floral top notes float almost irrelevantly over the rather densely monotoned, pungently dark-roast heart. The cup softens and sweetens as it cools, however, allowing the floral notes to bloom in pleasant counterpoint to the pungency.
Low-toned but complex. A floral sweetness is supported by a slightly roasty pungency and a touch of mustiness, the agreeable kind that gives weight and character to the cup and hints at dry chocolate.
Panelists found this coffee interesting but ambiguous. They were attracted by its combination of nuanced, caramelly softness and bright, aggressive acidity; put off by a smoky, slightly bitter pungency that hinted at a drying fault.
A paradoxical coffee: A slight bitter edge (drying fault?) led two panelists to dismiss this coffee; the majority praised its sweetness and depth and either overlooked the shadow bitterness or read it as an agreeable pungency.
A ripe, almost overripe, sweetness carries giddily from aroma to finish, anchored by a discreet touch of roast pungency. The lush fruit tones flirt with ferment but stay on the sweet side. A wonderfully juicy, deeply dimensioned coffee.
Nicely balanced sweetness and chocolate-toned roast pungency, complicated by a touch of pruny fruit. A bit simple and monotoned, but pleasantly and deeply so, like good minimalist music.
An uneven coffee, heartbreakingly uneven, given that some of the cups are extraordinary: exhilarating floral tones are balanced by a dry pungency, all wrapped in a comforting, enveloping sweetness. Other cups, however, lack the floral sweetness and are merely pungent bordering on bitter.
A subdued but gently satisfying Sumatra: clean, dry, low-toned fruit is bracketed by a shimmer of flowers at the top of the profile and a hint of pungency toward the bottom. Light-bodied and perhaps a bit shallow in dimension.
A rather sharp pungency dominates this dark-roast blend, looming over some rather cowed dry fruit tones. A spicy sweetness shimmers here and there, notably in aroma and aftertaste.
Very uneven from cup to cup. The best cups: low-toned, smooth, with a touch of spicy, clove-like pungency and a sweet, cocoaish finish. The less-than-best cups: bland with a slight but disturbing astringency.
A pleasant, if slight, hazelnut sweetness hovers in the aroma. The cup is vaguely sweet but essentially tasteless except for a hint of pungency probably deriving from hard or musty blend components.
The aroma is magnificent: high, sweet and singing. The cup is gently bright, with a pear or apple sweetness and a touch of pungency in the mid tones. The slight green tones are so sweet they 're more meadowy than grassy.
Dry acidy tones combine nicely with a restrained roasty pungency. Good, deep dimension, but little sweetness to support the deeply tart fruit notes.
A pure, classic dark-roast gesture. Unusually full body for a roast this dark: smooth, balanced, round in the cup, with a sweetness at the core of the dark-roast pungency that opens like a glimpse of a meadow through a curtain of pines.
Floral notes shimmer above a chocolate-and-spice pungency. "Small but balanced flavor package" wrote one panelist. The "small" in that description may account for the relatively modest rating of this coffee. Or the weakness may reside in the ambiguity of the underlying pungency, which hinted at a slight hardness.
Pungent Sumatra tones wrap around the Ethiopian flowers and Yemen fruit. The deep, aromatic wood tones modulate to a fruity, cherryish chocolate in the finish. The pungency turned slightly flat as the cup cools, slightly shadowing an intriguing and dramatic cup.
A pleasant roast-driven pungency balances a sturdy, assertive acidity. Dry and authoritative. Something seems to be flattening nuance, however. Either the five blend components are canceling one another out or the forceful roast has driven out some aromatics. In any event, more sweetness and lift would make a pleasantly hearty Oakhurst morning even rosier.
An unusually full body gives the dominating pungency of this extreme dark roast solidity and substance. Some smoky notes and high-toned sweetness survive the rigors of the roast.
An almost symphonic coffee. Nuance stretches across the profile: floral notes at the top, winy, dry fruit in the middle, and a smoky pungency at bottom. Sweet, cedarish notes tend to dominate in aroma and aftertaste, but in the cup fruit and flowers upstage everything else.
A deep, resonant pungency envelops the Kenya dry wine and tart berry tones, giving them a sexy fresh-sweat twist. This odd, rough-yet-smooth pungency is a Peet's trade mark, and only occasionally found in coffees dark-roasted by competitors. Here it supports without obliterating the citrus and berry freshness of the Kenya.
A blend that in its completeness is a tribute to the blender's art. Solid without drama, displaying excellent range and a fine balance between sweetness and (I would guess) Indonesia pungency. Mouth-filling, close to creamy body, cleanly resounding aftertaste.
A understated but profoundly complex coffee that rewards patience. The nose is restrained, but in the cup a roundly rich pungency is balanced by pronounced sweetness and nuanced by subtle wine tones. The finish is resonant, the aftertaste long, sweet and clean.
A powerful sweetness transforms the Indonesia pungency into clear dry chocolate tones, enlivened by a touch of acidy brightness. The chocolate tones hint at spice in finish and aftertaste.
Not a trace of the twisty pungency of most Sumatras and Sulawesis here. Instead a nut-softening-to-vanilla nose, a clear, assertive floral-toned acidity, even a hint of smoke in the finish. With just a little more dimension and sweetness this coffee would be a knockout.
A slight pungency immediately melts in cinnamon-tending sweet spice. The solid (though not hard or heavy) profile retains a consistent character from nose through long, resonant aftertaste. The spice simplifies a bit as the cup cools.
A clean Indonesia profile, meaning the pungency is soft rather than oppressively hard and the balancing sweetness is substantial and fresh. An ingratiating and straightforward coffee, though short on nuance.
Another juxtaposition of hard-toned pungency and soft sweetness, although here the sweetness blooms with subtle floral notes in finish and aftertaste. Somewhere in the overlap of hardness and sweetness an additional little nuance emerges, a pleasant spicy tickle.
A hard, baggy pungency. A sweet, soft (perhaps floral) sweetness. When the two work together we get an agreeable sweet/sharp taste that suggests chocolate. The sweet subtext prevails pleasantly in the aftertaste.
A hard pungency dominates the profile, but it's a rather rich, deep-throated hardness, with undertones of dry spice and a shimmer of sweetness. Possibly an over-aggressive roast burned off some of the sugars, imbalancing the cup.
I had difficulty deciding whether to honor the inert hardness of this coffee because it's a deliberately achieved characteristic, or condemn it as a defect because I don't find it a particularly pleasant version of the aged taste. The dominating attribute is an oppressively hard pungency that flattens and simplifies the profile. Only a delicate halo of almost subliminal sweetness lightens the cup.
A solid, bordering-on-classic Sumatra profile: low-toned but rich, pleasantly pruny, its distinct pungency saved from bitterness by a sweetness that grows in power as the coffee cools.
A rather refined profile, lighter and sweeter than most Sumatras, with clean hints of fruit and flowers under the usual Sumatra pungency. Much more expansively buoyant at the top of the profile than the other Sumatras in the cupping.
The dark roast style develops a subdued sweet-sweat pungency and attractive cedar tones in the aroma, but the cup disappoints. Not so much flat as underpowered: light-bodied, little range or dimension, with the main pleasure a gentle, unassuming bittersweetness.
Considerable dry-chocolate intrigue behind the dark-roast pungency. The aroma is extraordinary: light and buoyant with sweet vanilla-chocolate notes and a hint of nut. Settles down in the cup, where the pungency turns the chocolate tones pleasantly dry and smoky.
Another holiday coffee distinguished by a dark-roasted, pungent heart. The pungency dominates, but reads as rich and resilient, and is complicated by an unusual taste tickle. I want to call it cedar, but a publicist might call it spice. It's a pleasant holiday-themed sensation.
A clean, direct dark-roast profile. The dominant pungency is free of carbon and dances rather lightly on the palate, with some spicy overtones and space for them to echo.
A very comfortable, low-key cup. The dark-roast pungency is pronounced but easy-going. Just enough richness to satisfy. Not much nuance but some sweet echoes.
A stark pungency dominates: Sweet and rich in the nose, but hardens uncomfortably in the cup, where the sharpness is softened by the barest hint of shadow sweetness. Suggestions of nut in the aroma and dry fruit in the cup barely escape from under the hand of the roast.
A wonderful nose, full of bittersweet chocolate and deep vanilla tones, but disappointing in the cup: a clean, dry, but rather hard pungency bullies nuance into submission. A hint of carbon, little sweetness.
Dominated by a dry, unforgiving pungency. The center of the coffee has little resilience or shimmer. A touch of hard, rubbery taste surfaces in the finish. I have to assume that something went wrong with the roast.
A complex, shifty profile. When the cup is hot, explicit vanilla tones with a hovering suggestion of spice are balanced by a deep-toned, rather pungent tartness. As the cup cools the vanilla sweetens toward caramel and the spice turns vaguely fruity. Perhaps all of the spice and pungency adds up to the famous "smokiness" often attributed to Guatemalas.
The earthy flavor dominates the profile. Fortunately, the earth tones are pleasingly sweet and fresh, with just enough herby pungency to complicate rather than distract. The sweetness intensifies toward the finish. The hardness that sometimes sits on the profiles of back-yard-processed coffees like these is barely detectable here.
The coffee is buried under the taste of the roast. To the roastmaster's credit, however, this is no thin, carbony super-dark roast. It displays a pungent heaviness, flirting with bitter, softened at the edges by an almost subliminal sweetness. The sweetness intensifies somewhat in the finish, pushing the pungency toward chocolate. It never quite gets there, however.
About half the cups of this low-toned but forceful blend hint at the taste defect called bagginess, a flat, ropey taste green coffee acquires when it has not been fully cured before shipping or stored properly. The cups free of defect display a subdued intensity powered by a spicy, edge-of-astringent pungency.
The acidity is light and bright with a shimmer of fruit. At the center of the profile a slight pungency is nuanced by dry wine tones. Not much range, but solid dimension and outstanding balance.
It is interesting. The solid, rather simple profile is centered on a deep, mouth-filling, pungent richness. Buried in the pungency is an odd but not unpleasant note that I don't quite remember tasting in coffee: a sort of dry saltiness.
Plenty of nuance and long, complex development. An authoritative, dry-spice pungency opens in a matrix of shadow sweetness. A touch of vanilla in the finish, dry chocolate in the aftertaste. As the cup cools the spice softens and sweetens deliciously.
An extraordinarily clean, elegant Mocha-Java. The contribution of the two Ethiopian coffees is brightly fruity, floral and exhilaratingly fresh. The Java mostly stays out of the way, contributing a slight pungency to balance the Ethiopias' high-toned sweetness. The light body could be taken as a fault, but I found it more exhilaratingly weightless than disappointingly thin.
A fresh, clean, delightfully natural sweetness is balanced by a drier but still fruity pungency. A fine and distinctive coffee, though memorable more for what it gives out front than what it insinuates. The profile is immediate and pleasing rather than deep.
A fine example of the French-roast archetype. The carbon notes, as integral to French roasts as smoky notes are to Scotch whiskey, are discreet. The main taste complex here is sweet vanilla, floating above a dry, light pungency. Carbon notes prevail in the aftertaste, though a persistent low-toned sweetness gives them a run.
A quietly dramatic coffee with a long development, in which a clear if understated acidity gives way to a sudden sweet lift in the cup, and nutty, pungent (perhaps smoky) notes are balanced by vanilla sweetness. All of the complex gestures remain in balance, and a silky smoothness envelops even the potentially sharp pungency.
Whether deriving from the unorthodox roasting style or the coffee itself, a spicy pungency weaves its way through this rather soft, medium-bodied profile. At moments this flavor complex suggests chocolate, at others the earthy tones associated with some Indonesian coffees, at others a dark fruitiness-just-short-of-ferment. In the context of the overall sweet, intriguing, broad range of this coffee I tolerated this taste, even liked it, though purists may find it distracting.
Fine vanilla-nut nose and substantial body; otherwise a coffee without much lift, nuance, or development. Muted acidity, with only a sort of pruny pungency to complicate the cup.
The aroma sweetens the dark-roast pungency with a singing hint of vanilla, but the pungent character bluntly prevails in the cup. Relatively free of carbon, but not enough sweetness to balance the pungency. For the patient a pruny softness emerges in the finish.
The dry, dark-roast pungency avoids burned or excessively bitter tones. The pleasantly smoky bite displays a touch of sweetness in the finish and the aftertaste is comfortably free of astringency. In milk rich and balanced.
For me this rather dark-roasted blend's smoky pungency displayed pleasantly fruity tones in the demitasse, and remained (if precariously) on the soft side of bitter. I particularly liked this blend in milk: The pungency carried nicely through the dairy, broadening and softening without losing itself. My tasting partner didn't agree, and found the dark-roast profile a touch carbony in the demitasse and thin in milk.
Virtually all sweetness has been driven out of the coffee by the roast: distinct burned tones in the aroma give way to a hard, smoky pungency in the cup and a rather astringent aftertaste. Milk rounds out and sweetens the pungency, though even here the sharp, hard tones prevail.
Another solid, heavy-centered Sumatra. Here, however, the dark center reveals hints of wine and a character more complexly pungent than sweet. The pungency is free of earthy or hard notes, and reads as the very quintessence of rich.
A darkish roast style asserts itself here, turning the heavy Sumatra center distinctly pungent. A slight sweetness emerges in the finish, but the mildly astringent pungency dominates in the aftertaste. A vibrant aliveness in the center of this coffee is its most attractive feature.
A rather complex dark-roast cup. Clear carbon, but the roast was conducted with enough deliberation to preserve some richness and a touch of sweetness. The most engaging complication was in the dry center of the profile: a pruny, complex pungency that read as chocolate in the aroma. The carbon reasserted itself in the aftertaste.
Rich, round, complete. The aroma in particular displayed an impressive range, from sweet nut tones through a dark pungency. This pleasing bittersweet balance prevailed through to finish. A good example of a coffee brought to a darkish roast style tactfully enough to avoid carbon while maintaining sweetness. Little discernible acidity, but enough to keep the profile from going flat.
Hints of carbon mar an otherwise expansive profile: Sweet, light nuance at the top with a touch of wine in the acidity; suggestions of dark-roast pungency near the bottom. The complexity fades and carbon dominates in the aftertaste.
No carbon and lots of sweetness here, smoothing and rounding the dark-roast pungency. A pleasing smokiness turns sweet and ambiguously chocolate in the aftertaste.
The elements of the dark-roast complex -- sweetness, pungency and carbon -- all work together smoothly here until the aftertaste, when carbon tones linger past any memory of sweetness. Until that moment, this coffee achieves an unassuming dark-roast completeness.
Dominated by a pruny, rather heavy pungency at the heart of the profile, livened by only a faint shimmer of acidity. Not quite enough sweetness to balance the pungency or acidity to brighten it. The grace notes tend toward the dry and herbal.
Solid, full-bodied dark-roast cup. Carbon tones dominate the sweet side of the dark-roast equation, and only the hints of prune and chocolate relieve the ultimately rather austere profile.
A tribute to dimension and balance. A complete, classic coffee; medium-bodied, with a discreetly wine-toned acidity and just a touch of darker-roasted pungency. Even displays a hint of carbon in the finish, which I could do without, but which some may take as a sign of completeness.
A complete but rather simple profile; decent acidity balances the pungency of the moderately dark roast. Hints of vanilla intensify and the entire profile sweetens as the coffee cools.
The high point was the dazzling aroma, full of heady vanilla tones shimmering over a rich pungency. Subsequently, things went downhill. A hardness emerged in the aftertaste, and as the coffee cooled the entire profile stiffened and lost its sweetness. Perhaps the coffee was not sturdy enough to sustain its aromatics in the moderately dark roast style.
I found this blend low-toned and pungently fruity, although the fruitiness was dry rather than sweet. For me the pungency turned pleasantly round, sweet, and chocolaty when combined with milk. My tasting colleague didn't respond to the pungency in any context. She found this blend too sharp in a demitasse and too thin in milk.
The aromatics of the vanilla-chocolate complex fade fast under the impact of the carbon, although the clean-sweat pungency will please lovers of extremely dark roasts. The blanketing astringency of the carbon reaches a climax in the aftertaste, but even there sweetness balances and pungency complicates.
Solid, balanced, with a slightly winy acidity wrapped in a substantial body, all characteristics of a good Colombia. But again, these virtues seem attenuated. The complexity is confined to the middle registers, with both top and bottom notes pinched off. A slight sweetness fills out the profile in the finish.
One of the few coffees in the cupping with resonance and depth. You have to be patient with this coffee and wait for the heavy, pruny, dark-roast pungency to reveal itself in the finish, but it's worth the wait. If this coffee showed some acidity and top notes it might be a real winner. As it is, the attic is bare and all the fun is in the cellar, but that's probably as it should be in something called a French roast.
This rich, deeply dimensioned, complex version of the great Guatemala profile happily combines clear, wine-toned acidity with satisfying dark-roast pungency. I even detected a hint of the famous Antigua smokiness smoldering somewhere inside the pungency.
Some wine tones survive the dark roast to complicate the acidity. Brought along to a dark roast slowly enough to spare us burned notes, but for a Kenya not a lot of body or dimension either. The pleasure would seem to be the paradox of understated acidity and dark-roast pungency.
This classic medium-dark coffee gives us solid, mouth-filling dark-roast pungency, though the carbon notes seem to co-opt its sweetness. Some acidity survives the roast, and fills out the top of the profile nicely.
An intense coffee, particularly in the nose, but without grace notes or much resonance. Carbon tones dominate, but allow some sweetness and pungency to balance the cup.