A understated but profoundly complex coffee that rewards patience. The nose is restrained, but in the cup a roundly rich pungency is balanced by pronounced sweetness and nuanced by subtle wine tones. The finish is resonant, the aftertaste long, sweet and clean.
By Kenneth Davids
April 1st, 1999
Not a trace of the twisty pungency of most Sumatras and Sulawesis here. Instead a nut-softening-to-vanilla nose, a clear, assertive floral-toned acidity, even a hint of smoke in the finish. With just a little more dimension and sweetness this coffee would be a knockout.
A slight pungency immediately melts in cinnamon-tending sweet spice. The solid (though not hard or heavy) profile retains a consistent character from nose through long, resonant aftertaste. The spice simplifies a bit as the cup cools.
Another juxtaposition of hard-toned pungency and soft sweetness, although here the sweetness blooms with subtle floral notes in finish and aftertaste. Somewhere in the overlap of hardness and sweetness an additional little nuance emerges, a pleasant spicy tickle.
Another coffee in which the hard tones characteristic of many traditionally processed Indonesian coffees are precariously mellowed by an ingratiating sweetness. The combination of (perhaps musty) sharpness and sweetness hints at chocolate, particularly in the finish.
A hard, baggy pungency. A sweet, soft (perhaps floral) sweetness. When the two work together we get an agreeable sweet/sharp taste that suggests chocolate. The sweet subtext prevails pleasantly in the aftertaste.
Considerably more emphatic and complex than the Armeno aged Sumatra, apparently owing to the handling of the roast. The same hardness characteristic of many aged Sumatras of recent years is enveloped here with a soft, almost candy-like sweetness, modulating to a dry, tobaccoish finish. Sweet notes prevail in the aftertaste.
A hard pungency dominates the profile, but it's a rather rich, deep-throated hardness, with undertones of dry spice and a shimmer of sweetness. Possibly an over-aggressive roast burned off some of the sugars, imbalancing the cup.
I had difficulty deciding whether to honor the inert hardness of this coffee because it's a deliberately achieved characteristic, or condemn it as a defect because I don't find it a particularly pleasant version of the aged taste. The dominating attribute is an oppressively hard pungency that flattens and simplifies the profile. Only a delicate halo of almost subliminal sweetness lightens the cup.