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.
By Kenneth Davids
November 1st, 1997
This one keeps coming; vistas of completeness unfold in small, repeated waves of exhilarating revelation. The profile is built around a deep-toned version of the classic vanilla-nut-toned flavor complex. Sufficient acidity; not strikingly sweet but sweet enough.
High, wild, winy notes rip through this coffee, first thrilling us, then turning uncomfortably lush in the finish, finally leveling out in a relatively clean aftertaste. American coffee culture hasn't made up its mind about this overripe, edge-of-compost taste. Is it a strange and wonderful gift of nature to be treasured, like the carefully cultivated mold in certain cheeses? Or do we dismiss it as a symptom of poorly-handled coffee?
This coffee could be condemned for its lack of power or admired for its soft refinement and vanilla- and nut-toned sweetness. I bought in on the sweetness side. The vanilla-nut tones displayed remarkable persistence, complicating the aroma and lingering in the aftertaste with surprisingly clarity and richness.
Some attractive grace notes teased their way through the balanced, unassuming profile. I read them as herbal in my notes on aroma and chocolate when I got to the cup. Either way they're on the low-toned, pungent side of the taste ledger rather than the high and sweet.
The aroma was curiously flat, the body ordinary, but the acidity splendid: powerful without shrillness, complex, alive with muted wine tones. Smoky hints in the cup turned slightly hard and tobacco-like in the finish, but softened again in the rich aftertaste. .
My rating for this coffee rose steadily as it cooled. At first the profile seemed pleasant yet inert, without lift or innuendo. But as I came back to it the coffee seemed to elevate, lighten and sweeten, and in the end the combination of substantial body and unassuming sweetness won me over.
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 coffee's profile interesting but rather odd. It displayed a heavy, dull-yet-rich quality, reminiscent of some Indonesian and East-Indian coffees, plus a distinct earth taste. Literally earth; this coffee is neither dirty in the general sense nor earthy in the romantic sense; rather, the cup simply tastes a bit like dirt. There are other intrigues as well: delicate vanilla-toned high notes shimmer atop the aroma and dark prune-tobacco tones emerge in the finish. Despite all of the olfactory action I still wouldn't call this coffee complex, since everything seems controlled by a rather stolid inertia at the center of the profile.
A sweet nuttiness dominates here, startling in its clarity. This taste complex, typically a bit player in coffees, takes extravagant control of this one, upstaging everything else. True, a hint of wine made itself heard above the sweetness of the acidity. Perhaps some slightly hard, metallic or tobacco tones flitted across the stage just as the lights went down.
A substantial coffee without much in the way of surprise or intrigue. Odd smoky or pruny tones surfaced in the aroma and finish. Displayed enough acidity to avoid flatness but not enough to excite. The absence of sweetness and nuance in the upper ranges more than anything else relegated this coffee to the agreeably ordinary.
"Distinct fruity, pruny carbon tones; not much else," I wrote the first time I cupped this coffee. I used almost the same words the second time around. Simply not enough going on here. The carbon is not the thin, burned-out sensation of overdone French roasts, by the way. More the taste of very dark toast with a memory of marmalade.