Lindsey Bolger was all positive on this one: "One of my favorites in the cupping. Chocolate laced with cinnamon punctuates the aroma. More sweet spice and cocoa, even some floral notes, emerge in the flavor. A fine specimen of a Sumatra -- tamed but not over domesticated!" (88) Ken was attracted by "an opulent, deep-toned fruity chocolate" that nevertheless hinted at various flavor ambiguities like ferment. Ultimately, though, a "rich, clean finish" convinced him to go with a very positive reading (89) of this complex Sumatra.
By Kenneth Davids
November 26th, 2002
Lindsey Bolger exclaims: "A lovely, well-structured coffee! In the dry fragrance I detected a slightly rancid note, suggesting staling. But after the pour and upon the break, a delightful aroma of brown sugar and cocoa bloomed to mask any lack of freshness. With a maple-syrupy sweetness, bright but restrained acidity and refined fruit notes, this is an excellent example of a classic Sumatra that defies the origin's reputation for earthiness" (88). Ken concurred, finding "both aroma and cup dryly acidy yet deeply sweet, lush with a sort of spicy fruit suggesting pineapple. Rich, smooth mouthfeel" (89).
Lindsey Bolger: "Fantastic! Sweet, floral aroma accented with cinnamon and just a suggestion of earthiness. Cools to a sweet and clean display of balance and harmony" (88). Ken read Lindsey's "earthiness" as a touch of musty ferment, but he nevertheless liked the way the ferment worked in the darkish roast, describing the outcome as "pungent, bittersweet fruit that suggests dark chocolate with a little mild, brandy-like ferment." Like Lindsey, he was impressed with how elegantly the coffee cooled, to a "long, sweet, clean chocolate finish" (90).
Lindsey Bolger: "Depending on tolerance for fruitiness with wild tendencies, this coffee will either delight or dismay. Lovely floral aromatics complemented by flourishes of warmed butter, brown sugar and citrus were the first hint that something interesting was going on in the cup. Upon first sip, the coffee displayed overt ferment, the kind that makes your toes curl. Then, after subsequent passes, that overripe fruitiness evolved to the engaging blueberry note so prized in Ethiopia Harrars" (84). Ken also wrestled with ambiguous flavor notes that for him suggested both fermented fruit as well as a hint of mustiness, but he too settled on a positive reading: "sweetly acidy, with lush ferment tones that, as the cup cools, resolve richly and pleasantly to fruity chocolate and brandy" (87).
Lindsey Bolger: "Engaging aroma of sweet chocolate pudding invites the tasting spoon to dive right in. The cup delivers on the aroma's promise with a body that won't quit and a lingering sweetness that pushes through the rather dark roast" (83) Ken concurs with both the chocolate and the sweetness: "Clear sweet cocoa tones, balanced cup, long clean finish" (87).
Lindsey Bolger: "Intense aroma of fresh-from-oven brownies. Flavors of dark chocolate and sweet caramel compliment the rather dark roast. I added points to acknowledge the roaster's skill in pairing the roast so appropriately to the coffee" (85). Ken also was impressed by the aroma: "richly low-toned, chocolaty, malty, spicy, complex. In the cup gently roasty, complicated by dry fruit and malt notes. A slightly astringent finish lowered my score" (84).
Lindsey Bolger: "Understated grace describes this uncharacteristically delicate and refined Sumatra. Both dry fragrance and wet aroma display subtle fruit (I describe it as dried orange peel) and milk chocolate, which complement a clean and balanced cup laced with sweet herbs and licorice" (82). Ken: "Crisp, balanced, understated but rich. Grapefruit tones complicate a gently acidy but roasty cup" (88).
Lindsey Bolger: "One of my favorites of the darker roasts in the cupping, largely owing to an aromatic note that always gets my attention. I describe it as "zatar," a mix of spices (sumac, thyme, marjoram and salt) used in Middle Eastern cooking. An odd pairing with coffee, but at the right roast and with other complementary flavors, it can contribute to a truly distinctive cup" (83). Ken: "Most cups were dominated by sweetly and pleasantly fermented tones, the kind that suggest wine- or fruit-toned chocolate. In other cups, additional smoky, spicy tones edged toward a soapy bitterness" (84)
A typical shape-shifting Sumatra that gives us something different in every cup. Lindsey Bolger: "Characteristic of a Sumatra prone to schizophrenia, with multiple personalities ranging from toasted grains and nuts to chocolate and spice. This confusing, sometimes combative complexity seems to improve and stabilize as the coffee cools" (82). Ken: "Some cups rich, sweet, fruity chocolate with an utterly clean finish; others still sweetly chocolaty but with leathery, spicy undertones and a heavy finish" (84).
Lindsey Bolger: "A coffee with some interesting twists and turns. While dominated by a less desirable woody flavor, a sweet and chocolaty aroma and clean finish redeems what may be an otherwise ordinary coffee" (82). Ken: "Bittersweet, with dry chocolate and nut tones. A little too bitter and not quite sweet enough for me. The finish is astringent but rich." (83)