Extraordinary aroma: powerfully sweet, enveloping and complex, with tremendous dimension. Almost as impressive in the cup: Full-toned acidity softened by peach or prune, resonant and richly dimensioned, with a sweet, full, almost sugary finish complicated by hints of dry chocolate or tobacco.
By Kenneth Davids
November 1st, 1998
Extraordinary aroma: Nothing dramatic, but that may be the point here. Balanced and gently complex. Crisp dry tones keep the levitating sweetness grounded. Hints of smoke in the finish sweeten toward chocolate in the aftertaste.
A complex, shifty profile. When the cup is hot, explicit vanilla tones with a hovering suggestion of spice are balanced by a deep-toned, rather pungent tartness. As the cup cools the vanilla sweetens toward caramel and the spice turns vaguely fruity. Perhaps all of the spice and pungency adds up to the famous "smokiness" often attributed to Guatemalas.
Ingratiating and open, this coffee makes the most of what it brings to the cup. Not bright but gently lively, nicely balanced between sweet and dry tones, with a pleasant supporting resonance. As the cup cools a slight, almost indistinguishable (storage-related?) hardness seems to shadow the sweetness.
The earthy flavor dominates the profile. Fortunately, the earth tones are pleasingly sweet and fresh, with just enough herby pungency to complicate rather than distract. The sweetness intensifies toward the finish. The hardness that sometimes sits on the profiles of back-yard-processed coffees like these is barely detectable here.
Judged on aroma alone, this coffee easily would top the ratings. Intense, deeply dimensioned nut tones soar with an exhilarating sweetness. In the cup, however, things quiet down quickly. A heavy, low-toned acidity dominates a profile complicated by interesting spicy and smoky notes, but without much lift or dimension.
The center of the profile is satisfyingly round and full but rather opaque, without lift or brightness. The lone complication is a hint of pungent, pruny fruitiness that turns slightly hard as the cup cools. The impassive profile reveals nuance only as it fades rather richly in the aftertaste.
The coffee is buried under the taste of the roast. To the roastmaster's credit, however, this is no thin, carbony super-dark roast. It displays a pungent heaviness, flirting with bitter, softened at the edges by an almost subliminal sweetness. The sweetness intensifies somewhat in the finish, pushing the pungency toward chocolate. It never quite gets there, however.