Levitating with sweetness, clean, complete, balanced, powerful yet elegant, this blend displays tremendous development and dimension. By development I mean the profile transforms in subtle modulations from aroma through aftertaste -- in this case from chocolate and toast notes in aroma and cup to sweet spice tones in finish. Dimension means sensations resonate and expand in nose and on palate rather than standing pat at first impression. In milk this blend remains pleasantly nutty-sweet and complete, but surrenders the complexity and intensity it displayed in the demitasse.
By Kenneth Davids
May 1st, 1998
In the demitasse this blend is complexly crisp and pungent; richly dry chocolate notes are supported by an understated sweetness. Perhaps the heavy, smoothly balanced body accounts for the splendid impact this coffee makes in milk. The dairy relaxes the crisp chocolate notes and the coffee richly suffuses the milk rather than penetrating it.
This smooth, understated blend displays an impressive variety of nuance throughout its development, from elusive vanilla-nut tones in the mild aroma through smoky and spicy notes in the cup to a touch of fruit or chocolate in aftertaste. In milk the profile is clean, sweet and balanced.
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.
The elegant, sweetly complex nose of this coffee translates disappointingly to the cup, where sharp, rough tones distract from the lingering traces of spice and fruit. The aftertaste is long but rather astringent. Handles milk with authority but without much resonance or complexity. The robustas in the blend contribute a very dense, fine-textured crema in the straight shot.
For an espresso this coffee is relatively light-roasted, allowing cup characteristics of the green coffee to emerge in the demitasse. The vanilla-nut tones characteristic of many Brazil dry-processed coffees weave pleasantly through the profile, appearing with particular clarity in aroma and aftertaste. Unfortunately, the herby, earthy sharpness of some dry-processed Brazils also surfaces, especially in the aftertaste. All earthy peccadilloes disappear in milk, however. The sharp, earthy tones mute, the nut tones bloom, and the entire profile relaxes and turns sweet yet forceful.
A clean, simple pop across the palate. No carbon, not sharp, but not much sweetness or nuance either. Nut tones surface in the finish. My tasting partner was more specific: peanuts. Delivers a straightforward, clean cup in milk, neither particularly sweet nor pungent. A generous assessment would call this profile balanced and forceful; a critical one might accuse it of simplicity and overstatement.
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.
Only a touch of sweetness survives to balance the sharp tones of a very dark roast, but the sharpness is complicated (perhaps rounded) by chocolaty, pruny tones. The aroma is crisp, alive, even elegant, but the profile tends to simplify in the cup and trail off into dimensionless astringency in the aftertaste. At best medium body. Turns sweet and smooth in milk but remains underpowered.
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.