Reviews for March 1st, 1999

Review Date: Mar 1999

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This Kenya attracted the highest rating achieved by any coffee since Coffee Review began its panel cuppings. Judging from comments alone it would seem that its bright, vibrant acidity powered it to the top, but I suspect that the ultimate reason it prevailed over other samples in the cupping is its deep, echoing dimension. This coffee didn’t just tickle or please the palate, it resonated on it like the stroke of a deliciously humming gong. Minority report: Despite the high score, two panelists felt the powerful acidity imbalanced and overly simplified the profile.

Review Date: Mar 1999

Price:

This Kenya attracted the highest rating achieved by any coffee since Coffee Review began its panel cuppings. Judging from comments alone it would seem that its bright, vibrant acidity powered it to the top, but I suspect that the ultimate reason it prevailed over other samples in the cupping is its deep, echoing dimension. This coffee didn’t just tickle or please the palate, it resonated on it like the stroke of a deliciously humming gong. Minority report: Despite the high score, two panelists felt the powerful acidity imbalanced and overly simplified the profile.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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A high score but a relatively low wow quotient. Apparently panelists valued this coffee for its rich balance and deeply matrixed fruit; the body was described variously as full, heavy, and thick. However, several panelists felt the cup was a bit faded, restrained, “past-croppish.” Perhaps this is an instance when the mid-season timing of the cupping did prejudice the cupping results.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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A high score but a relatively low wow quotient. Apparently panelists valued this coffee for its rich balance and deeply matrixed fruit; the body was described variously as full, heavy, and thick. However, several panelists felt the cup was a bit faded, restrained, “past-croppish.” Perhaps this is an instance when the mid-season timing of the cupping did prejudice the cupping results.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Most panelists found the acidity too dominating here and the rest of the profile too neutral, making for a sort of one-dimensional Kenya cup. “A test-tube Kenya,” complained one. “Very bright acidity, but not able to pick out other threads,” wrote another. Finally: “Very citrusy. I’ll score it high for acidity, but would like to try a darker roast in hopes [that] more depth and sweetness emerge.” I found the cup pleasant but underpowered.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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This was my personal favorite for its explosion of flowers and fruit and long, chocolate-toned finish. I wasn’t alone. I counted two “wows!” scrawled on the cupping forms, a significant wow-quotient given the usually restrained disposition of the panel. Although most stopped short of wow, they did register their admiration for this coffee’s bright, nuanced fruit and balanced matrix. Only one dissenter: “Bright, lemony cup, … but I want more body and depth.” Once again, a darker roast might go a long way toward developing that depth.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Bright but well-matrixed acidity, full body, and a complex cluster of grace notes elevated the score of this sample. “Good balance of flavors, excellent complexity, … fruit, spice, … tropical woods, cedar with some sweet dark chocolate. [But] fades when cool. Where did all that flavor go?” For me the flavor went too soon. I missed length and development, and found the smoky, herby notes a touch dissonant. But that’s a minority opinion: Overall the panel very much admired this coffee.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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The brightly assertive, sweetly fruity acidity that Kenya enthusiasts love is on full display here, cradled by a richly textured body. As a bonus we get the treasured Kenya berry notes, although the panel wasn’t sure whether they were blueberry, blackberry, strawberry or just “berry.” Berries and all, I found this otherwise splendid Kenya a touch shallow in dimension compared to the highest-rated Gaturiri.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Bright but well-matrixed acidity, full body, and a complex cluster of grace notes elevated the score of this sample. “Good balance of flavors, excellent complexity, … fruit, spice, … tropical woods, cedar with some sweet dark chocolate. [But] fades when cool. Where did all that flavor go?” For me the flavor went too soon. I missed length and development, and found the smoky, herby notes a touch dissonant. But that’s a minority opinion: Overall the panel very much admired this coffee.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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The brightly assertive, sweetly fruity acidity that Kenya enthusiasts love is on full display here, cradled by a richly textured body. As a bonus we get the treasured Kenya berry notes, although the panel wasn’t sure whether they were blueberry, blackberry, strawberry or just “berry.” Berries and all, I found this otherwise splendid Kenya a touch shallow in dimension compared to the highest-rated Gaturiri.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Ambivalence. Several panelists admired this Keny’s understated but richly fruity sweetness, but judging from their scores, remained only mildly impressed by the whole package. “Sweet undertones; dances nicely on the palate, but with a weird, disjointed rhythm” wrote one, memorably. “Thin, lackluster,” complained another. I found the cup pleasant but underpowered.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Pungent, full, deep-throated fruit dominates here. Several panelists called the cup balanced, which I take as praise for the way the acidity animates the profile from the inside rather than screaming off the top. Nevertheless, overall this coffee generated limited enthusiasm. “Decent,” wrote one. “Not the big fruity notes, but drinkable,” harrumphed another. “Lacks true East African character,” complained a third.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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I liked this coffee. For me it displayed the typical strength of fine Kenyas: clean, bright, berry-nuanced fruit and tremendous dimension. Most of the panelists didn’t taste it that way. They found the acidity a touch too astringent, particularly in aftertaste. One eloquently sat the fence: “good berry flavors, a ‘juicy’ cup, [but] finish a bit astringent. Needs balance.” A darker roast might help achieve that balance by softening the acidity.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Consensus found the acidity in this Kenya pleasantly fruity and sweet in the nose but disturbingly sharp in the cup and astringent in the aftertaste. Again, a slightly darker roast might help tame the sharpness. A few of us found solace in what struck us as a round, rather richly textured body.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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Ambivalence. Most panelists noted a pleasantly fruity, floral sweetness, particularly in the nose, but as the coffee cooled an underlying baggy flatness emerged to drown out the pleasant memories. “This coffee is like a bitter wind,” wrote one. “Cools to grassy flavors.” Two panelists complained that the roast was too light to do justice to the coffee. Perhaps that accounts for the grassy notes, but I don’t think that the overall flatness can be attributed to roast.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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One set of palates identified the problem with this Zambia as roughness and harsh acidity. Others, including me, simply read the coffee as underdeveloped. “Flat and woody … no pulse” said one. “Tired,” according to another. Perhaps too many half-ripe cherries carried through to the sample, or perhaps the lightish roast failed to do justice to the coffee. Three of us detected smoky or tobaccoish notes, but none found these tart embellishments particularly attractive.

Review Date: Mar 1999

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This coffee provoked an unenviable list of drab adjectives: muddy (the favorite), grassy, neutral, ashy, rubber-like. Four panelists labeled the aftertaste “baggy,” a term describing a flat, ropey sensation that usually indicates faulty conditioning or storage. Whatever its origin, the defect here overpowers the coffee.