By Kenneth Davids
February 1st, 1999
A rather refined profile, lighter and sweeter than most Sumatras, with clean hints of fruit and flowers under the usual Sumatra pungency. Much more expansively buoyant at the top of the profile than the other Sumatras in the cupping.
When the cup was hot I thought I had hit the Sumatra jackpot, something close to the great Sumatras of pre-Starbucks days, when Sumatra was an exotic secret shared by a handful of professionals and enthusiasts. Rich, burgundy-like fullness, gathering under the back edges of the tongue, with just enough acidity to set off dark tickles and echoes. However, a slightly bitter and salty aftertaste gave away this coffee's weakness, which became abundantly clear as the cup cooled: just enough hardness to dampen an otherwise splendid profile.
Distinctive but limited. The strength of the cup is a powerfully smoky, carbony center with pleasing hints of dry chocolate. Little sweetness or range, however, making it a bit of a Johnny-one-note (though it's a rather exotic note).
The dark roast style develops a subdued sweet-sweat pungency and attractive cedar tones in the aroma, but the cup disappoints. Not so much flat as underpowered: light-bodied, little range or dimension, with the main pleasure a gentle, unassuming bittersweetness.
Assuming classic and earthy are not mutually exclusive terms, this is a classically earthy Sumatra: a round, muted but full earth taste gently dominates the profile. Apparently the earth taste comes from drying the coffee directly on the ground rather than on tarpaulins, the usual practice in Sumatra. Although the earth tones are wonderfully soft, overall the profile suffers from a slight bitterness.
Another Sumatra with intrigue, but more murky than mysterious. The aroma is marvelous, alive with vanilla and sweet aromatic wood tones, but the cup settles down into a heavy smokiness unrelieved by lift or sweetness. Hints of dry chocolate turn tobaccoish in the finish.