The clear winner in the tasting, perhaps because it showed pungent dark-roast character without losing sweetness or complexity to carbon. Distinct chocolate notes, good dimension, substantial body, smooth balance of bitter and sweet tones, although the bitterness does get the upper hand in the aftertaste. Fills out nicely in milk without losing authority or complexity.
By Kenneth Davids
October 1st, 1997
A distinct bouquet of floral and fruit notes enlivens and complicates the chocolate-vanilla Espresso sweetness while freshening and brightening the aftertaste. Altogether a rather remarkable Espresso: sweet, fragrant, and virtually without carbon or bitterness. Fades a bit in milk.
Italians, it is said, don't care for the acidity, the bright, dry sensation valued in American drip coffees. Ironically, this blended-in-Italy coffee displays more acidy notes than any other in the tasting. The dry, fruity notes enliven and lift the typically rounded Espresso profile. The roast adds smoky, spicy notes that dance on the edge of carbon without committing.
Simple but centered, a classically solid Espresso. Once past the low-key, caramel/toast/chocolate nose I didn't register much in the way of grace notes, but neither was I oppressed by carbon. My taster colleague picked up muted wine-fruit tones. In milk, sweet and substantial.
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.
Another dark-roast blend in which the sweet-chocolate-vanilla complex barely makes it out from under the carbon. But it does, and a muted vanilla sweetness lifts the profile in the finish. Milk, as usual, smooths the carbon and glorifies the sweetness.
Not much fruit here and lots of rather twisty, smoky carbon. But if you're patient the sweet-pungent Espresso complex emerges behind the carbon, with perhaps a hint of chocolate. The carbon flattens the profile in the finish, but the body is husky and the entire package improves in milk, which as usual ramps up the sweetness and exaggerates the chocolate.
The elegant fruit and toast tones in the aroma fade quickly, leaving a surprisingly hard, astringent profile behind, free of carbon but equally empty of acidy or grace notes, displaying more tactile than aromatic power. The profile sweetens and rounds in milk.
A carbony bite suggests this blend may have been roasted too quickly. Otherwise a very agreeable, rather straightforward Espresso, with solid body and a satisfying balance of sweet and pungent tones. The profile fades rather quickly in the finish, perhaps owing to a rushed roast that burned off aromatics.
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.
This remarkably light, self-effacing blend displays no acidity and no bitterness. Only the slightest carbon astringency surfaces in the aftertaste. Unfortunately, this tribute to subtlety doesn't display much power or complexity either -- only an evanescent caramel-chocolate sweetness, which loses its way almost completely in milk.