An absolutely remarkable coffee. Replete with glistening, kaleidoscopic nuance of fruit: clean, sweet, densely rich blueberry, wine, flowers, spice. Bright and spirited yet deeply resonant; balanced, complete. A coffee this complex and alive with fruit almost necessarily teeters on the edge of slight ferment, but most of the panelists could have cared less. It would be like criticizing Michelangelo because he left some chisel marks on the base of a sculpture.
By Kenneth Davids
May 1st, 2000
A splendidly smooth Harrar with persistent, understated power. There is plenty going on in the nose, particularly fruit, but the real strength of this coffee is its smooth, supple presence, particularly as it cools. "It is what it says it is -- friendly, honest, easy to read, pleasant & enjoyable, [though] not sophisticated," concluded one panelist. I loved this coffee, and found its resonant roundness sufficiently sophisticated, even elegant.
Complex and alive with nuance: twisty dried fruit tones ("dried apricot" specified one panelist; "prune" suggested another), spice, chocolate, berries. Sweet, rich, and utterly engrossing in its teasing labyrinth of aromatics.
A classically sweet, chocolaty, fruity Yemen Mattari flawed by a slight touch of baggy staleness. Some on the panel were more than willing to overlook the staleness. "This [coffee] has character!" exclaimed one. "Hint of staleness, but then nice depth."
Richly acidy, solid, straightforward, this mocha distinguished itself less by its fruity nuance than by its general dimension and boldness: "good intensity & depth," wrote one panelist; "good concentration & complexity," echoed another. Shimmers of fruit and chocolate simplify as the cup cools.
Yemen coffees are famous for their wild unpredictability, from bag to bag and even cup to cup. This split-vote coffee appears to support that generalization. Several panelists discovered in it a variety of attractive, complexly nuanced Yemen virtues: chocolate, fruit, wine, berries. Others found it musty and flat, though still pleasantly rich.
This rather wild coffee attracted a split vote. The chocolate-toned aroma impressed some panelists, but the cup turned rather rough and harsh as it cooled. Positive descriptions of aromatics ranged from fruit to chocolate. Negative or neutral: earthy, tobaccoey, "beef broth."
A complexly imbalanced cup. Virtually everyone agreed the aroma was pleasantly floral and fruity ("melon" one panelist specified) and the body robust, but the eccentric sensations that emerged in the cup as it cooled attracted a variety of vegetable and largely negative adjectives, among them grassy, herbal, wheaty, and tobaccoey.
A flawed coffee, but complex and intriguing in its faults. Every panelist except one cited defects, but the intrigue of the defects inspired them to refined description. "Potatoey, soapy," said one; "Old, wood-pulp flavor," another. I suspect that this pleasantly sweet, light coffee attracted some serious mustiness or mould during drying.