Asia-Pacific

Hawai’i: A New Wave of Coffee Innovation

Hawai’i: A New Wave of Coffee Innovation

The Hawaiian Islands are known the world over for beautiful beaches, diverse microclimates, and both active and dormant volcanoes — pretty much paradise, as the cliché goes. Hawaiian culture is both uniquely American and, in many ways, happily incongruous with mainstream American culture. One island in particular, Hawai’i Island (often called the Big Island), produces […]

Sumatra: Earth, Chocolate and Change

Sumatra: Earth, Chocolate and Change

The pleasures of a fine traditional Sumatra are not quite conventional coffee pleasures. The characteristic layering of chocolate, pungent fruit and earth notes in an exceptional wet-hulled Sumatra may mildly turn off coffee drinkers who enjoy more orthodox coffee pleasures: juicier, sweeter fruit, say, or more citrus and flowers, or a suave balance with no […]

Learning from Sumatras

Learning from Sumatras

I’ve been cupping coffee professionally for less than a year. Ken Davids first hired me at Coffee Review last August, given that my background in food and wine writing, as well as in academia, seemed a good enough calling card to dip into the world of coffee. But, of course, in order to properly do […]

Elegant Earth: Wet-Hulled Sumatras and One Sulawesi

Elegant Earth: Wet-Hulled Sumatras and One Sulawesi

Wet-hulling is not an obscure Olympics sailing event nor (at least to my knowledge) a special trick in waterskiing or wakeboarding. It is a fruit removal and drying variation that contributes much of the distinct character of traditional Indonesia coffees, particularly those from Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is also practiced on other Indonesian islands, almost […]

Hawaii 2014: The Classics Rule

Hawaii 2014: The Classics Rule

When writing about Hawaii coffees – more specifically, Kona coffees – I invariably feel conflicting impulses about whom to take on. Should I attack the many cynical Kona-bashers among the mainland high-end coffee-roasting community who sneer that Hawaii coffees (Kona in particular) are at best ordinary and always overpriced? On the other hand, should I […]

Subtle Exoticism: Sulawesi and Papua New Guinea

Subtle Exoticism: Sulawesi and Papua New Guinea

This month’s reviews include coffees from two Indo-Pacific growing regions, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) and Papua New Guinea. We had planned to include coffees from several other Indo-Pacific islands – Java, Bali, East Timor – but we were not able to source enough samples to justify including them. Never mind; we turned […]

Better and Better: Sumatras 2013

Better and Better: Sumatras 2013

Sumatra coffees continue to amaze. Aside from Ethiopia, I can think of no other origin currently producing fine coffees displaying as much sheer range and distinction of sensory association. But whereas Ethiopia’s range of sensory surprise is owing to a rich store of ancient plant varieties, Sumatra’s range and diversity of sensation is primarily achieved […]

Mysterious No More: Sumatra Coffees

Mysterious No More: Sumatra Coffees

Ever since specialty coffee pioneer Alfred Peet popularized Sumatra coffees on the menu of his famous Vine Street store, their pungently fruity, earthy/musty profile has attracted a loyal following among American coffee lovers. Along the way they have been regularly tagged “mysterious,” a word also often applied to the seldom-visited Indonesian island they come from. […]

Island Coffees: Hawaii and the Caribbean

Island Coffees: Hawaii and the Caribbean

This month’s reviews consider coffees from two famous island growing regions — Kona and the Blue Mountains of Jamaica — together with a handful of coffees from less famous island origins: Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, plus a scattering of non-Kona Hawaii coffees. The conclusions, rather sadly, are predictable for coffee insiders but perhaps […]

Coffees of Sulawesi, Bali, Java, Flores, East Timor

Coffees of Sulawesi, Bali, Java, Flores, East Timor

In beverage-world terms, coffees from Indonesia and East Timor could be considered the single-malt whiskies of coffee. Generally absent are the tart fruit and sweet floral notes of the finest pure, high-grown, wet-processed coffees of Latin America and East Africa. In their place are rich, ambiguous notes of nut, aromatic wood, sometimes earth, sometimes a […]

By February 5, 2010 |Reviews Tasting Report
Fourteen Covers of a Classic Tune: Mocha Java Blends

Fourteen Covers of a Classic Tune: Mocha Java Blends

Around 1740 Europeans had a rather limited menu of coffees to choose from: Mocha, the world’s original commercial coffee from what is now Yemen, and Java, a recent introduction by the Dutch from their colony in the Pacific. Inevitably, these two coffees came together to form the world’s first blend. In the years following, other, […]

Papua New Guinea: Promise Only Partly Fulfilled

Papua New Guinea: Promise Only Partly Fulfilled

Three or four years ago I was looking out the window of a small airplane banking into a short (very short) grass airstrip serving a coffee-growing village of Papua New Guinea. Everything that makes the highlands of Papua New Guinea one of the most promising coffee growing regions in the world was spread out beneath […]

Sweetness and Earth: Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Timor

Sweetness and Earth: Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Timor

One starting point for understanding the intriguing coffees that emerge from the islands of Indonesia (Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Bali) and Timor is the prosaic issue of processing, or how the fruit is removed from the coffee seeds and how they are dried. The famous “earthy” character of traditional Sumatra and Sulawesi coffees clearly derives from […]

Hawaiian Coffees 2006: Not This Year

Hawaiian Coffees 2006: Not This Year

Disappointment implies history. We can only be disappointed if past successes make us expect more good things than actually come our way in the present. Such is the case with Coffee Review’s latest revisiting of Hawaiian coffees. First disappointment: A rather lackluster collection of coffees from the famous Kona growing region, with only one of […]

Now More Than Ever: Traditional Coffees of Sumatra and Sulawesi

Now More Than Ever: Traditional Coffees of Sumatra and Sulawesi

It may seem a bit ghoulish to carry on about the pleasures of Sumatra coffee when communities not very far from the Sumatra growing regions are suffering through a catastrophe of unimaginably horrific proportions. However, as stark as the contrast may be between a coffee cup and news footage of upended cars, shattered houses and […]

Sumatras

Sumatras

It is unlikely that anyone would put Sumatra up as the finest of the world’s coffee origins, but many of us would select it as one of the most challenging and interesting. That challenge and interest is situated right in the cup, by the way. You don’t need to glamorize traditional Sumatras with false travelogue […]

By November 26, 2002 |Reviews Tasting Report
Konas and Other Hawaiis

Konas and Other Hawaiis

Kona coffee, grown on a narrow band of hard-scrabble lava terrain that meanders along the mountainside above the resort complexes and splendid western coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a singular coffee origin in many respects. A combination of demand and scarcity have made one of the worlds most expensive coffees. It is […]

By February 6, 2002 |Reviews Tasting Report
Sulawesi Coffees, a Cup on the Wild Side

Sulawesi Coffees, a Cup on the Wild Side

Creative Coffee Abuse Ironically, these virtues only prevail when the coffees have been subject to the unorthodox procedures for fruit removal and drying prevailing among small growers in the traditional coffee regions of Indonesia. After the thick red skins have been removed from the coffee fruit, the slimy fruit flesh is only partly washed off […]

1999 Papua New Guineas, Timors, and a Lone Java

1999 Papua New Guineas, Timors, and a Lone Java

An assortment of intrigues and questions animate this month’s panel cupping of coffees from the eastern islands of the Malay Archipelago: Papua New Guinea, Timor, and Java. Among those questions and intrigues: Papua New Guinea estate-grown coffees are among the up-and-coming challengers in the world of fine coffee. How good are the best estate-grown Papua […]

By February 1, 2000 |Reviews Tasting Report
Indonesias and Papua New Guineas

Indonesias and Papua New Guineas

Sumatra probably became America’s favorite Indonesia coffee because in the early days of specialty coffee it seemed the most distinctive origin from the region: heavier and richer than Java, twistier and more complex than Papua New Guinea, a bit more consistent and accessible than similar coffees from Sulawesi. And back then, East Timor, the source […]