"Bright, acidy, but luxuriously sweet -- high-toned, citrusy fruit suggests grapefruit. Slightly astringent in the finish but richly so (rating 88)." Chris really liked this coffee, awarding it a rating of 96: "Started things off right with a mouthwatering floral and citrus aroma. Very much the lone wolf of the cupping owing to its winey Yirgacheffe/Kenya character."
By Kenneth Davids
August 18th, 2002
Ken's favorite in the cupping: "Superb balance of dry and sweet tones. Crisp fruit notes suggest temperate fruit, perhaps pears. Slight but not entirely unpleasant bitterness in the finish" (rating 90). Chris: "The other stand-alone in the cupping, owing to its medium-intensity East-Africa-style acidity. Begins with suggestions of mandarin orange and dips toward a floral wine finish" (rating 89).
Both Ken and Chris find the aromatics and body of this dark roast impressive but the finish distracting. Ken: "Superb aroma, intense, sweet dark-roast character with shimmers of tart grapefruit and milk chocolate. The roast taste pleasantly dominates in the cup but turns charred in the finish" (rating 84). Chris: "Opens with nutty, caramel candy; smooth body in the cup. Cools to a touch of earthy, metallic flavor" (rating 87).
Issues of roast rather than green coffee dominated reactions to this dark roast, with Ken leaning to the critical side and Chris to the positive. Ken: "Impressively full-bodied, but bitterly monotoned and heavy rather than round" (rating 83). Chris acknowledges that "most of the [attractive] India sweet pepper flavor has been roasted out of this one. However," he continues, "it deserves merit for a skillful roast that brings out sweet creamy coconut tones without contributing a smoky flavor" (rating 86).
Ken: "Round, balanced, quietly agreeable. A subdued roastiness is nicely enveloped in gently sweet fruit tones" (rating 86). Chris also appreciates the sweet, round fruit, but objects to the notes Ken calls roasty, condemning them as "woody": "Fragrant honey butter with a hint of a citric bite. However, the sweet creamy character gets lost in the woody nut tones of the finish" (rating 83).
Ken: "Fine balance of sweet, acidy and roasty tones, with a hint of flowers and bittersweet chocolate. The balance breaks up a bit in the rather bitter finish" (rating 86). Chris: "Slight pipe tobacco sweetness in the aroma. Smooth, fresh milk chocolate flavor with a hint of sweet jalapeno" (rating 84).
Ken admires this coffee's "almost chewy dry chocolate or cocoa notes" and its "sweet, rich balance and well-integrated acidity," though he had reservations centering on "a slight flatly potatoey, bitter mustiness" (rating 85). Chris finds a positive and colorful way of describing the sample's unorthodox aromatics: "Impressive variety of aroma in the cup, from honey baked bread to a sweet green-pepper spice, which caught me off guard at first. Finishes with smooth banana-muffin-like notes" (rating 84).
Ken admires this blend's "rich, powerful, low-toned acidity, fullish body, and dry chocolate nuance," but is distracted by "a hint of bitter peanut tones and a cloying background flatness" (rating 86). Chris is both more specific -- "dark roast beans blended with very light roast, which hides the borderline past-crop flavor" -- and more metaphoric: "This coffee is hanging on for dear life with a shot of sweet wine adrenaline" (rating 82).
Considerable disagreement surfaced between Ken and Chris over this blend's odd character contributed by seldom-used coffees like India Monsooned Malabar and wet-processed robusta. Ken rather defiantly settled on a rating of 85, admiring what he called the blend's "sweet, complexly opulent nose and odd, overripe apricot and bittersweet chocolate notes" but admitting he found its "background musty tones disturbing." Chris (rating 77) didn't buy into the exotic character at all, concluding that the musty (his term is "earthy") tones dominated: "Off the mark, it strides toward a nutty baked bread aroma. The body and acidity tire down to earthy notes midway, but regain some sweet strength in the aftertaste."