Not entirely typical for a Sumatra, but something of a revelation: an almost Latin-American brightness up front before the deep Sumatra tones prevail, pulling us down into a broad, deep, sweet vanilla-tinged center. An amazing range, from the fleeting floral top notes to a pungently rich bottom, plus a long, satisfying development that carries straight through to the vanilla memories in the aftertaste.
By Kenneth Davids
March 1st, 1998
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.
Low-toned, full-bodied, absolutely solid at the center (maybe too), with slight hints of fruit and sweetness at the edges. In other words, a typical Sumatra. Would be a classic Sumatra if there were something more going on inside that center or a little more shimmer or lift around those edges. As it is, substantial, satisfying, but a touch inert.
Another typically full-bodied, solid-centered Sumatra. Not much range or complexity, but good development: If you stay with the coffee the heaviness at the center seems to grow in weight and power, revealing reticent pruny, sweet-pungent tones in the finish. As it cools, the herby, earthy tones characteristic of some Sumatras emerge, carrying (perhaps) a hint of hardness. Without that hint I would have rated this Sumatra higher.
The dark roast style leans toward carbon here but remains on the flavorful side of it, turning the Sumatra richness pungent and darkening the sweet tones with hints of what a publicist might call chocolate. If this coffee had showed some development I would have rated it higher, but the profile made its statement and stood pat from there. As with the other Café d'Alma coffees in the cupping, I suspect a loss of aromatics in shipping.
An interesting but atypical Sumatra profile: Distinctly, almost distractingly sweet vanilla tones float over the Sumatra depth, which you only sense through a kind of echo. Perfumy, at turns suggesting flowers and then nuts, the vanilla notes may be too intense for elegance, lingering straight into the aftertaste, where they turn slightly cloying.
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.
Herbal, pungent tones, a bit too sharp for earthy, dominate the profile, reverberating in its characteristically solid Sumatra heart. Only a touch of sweet nuance, but the herbal tones are intriguing. They turn slightly hard as the coffee cools.
Still another solid, deep Sumatra, but lacking range or dimension. Clean, one-dimensional, with little resonance in the heart of the coffee or shimmer around the edges. The aromatics seemed a bit tired; perhaps the problem here is a loss of aromatics in shipping.