An enormous, enveloping coffee, grandly acidy yet voluptuously sweet. So sweet the term acidy becomes almost moot, though its dry rigor necessarily grounds and complicates the sweetness. Cabernet wine and ripe cherry notes. Anonymously nominated.
By Kenneth Davids
May 7th, 2004
Sweetly melodic, soft but substantial, with a gentle tickle of acidity. A spice-toned chocolate complicates the aroma and resurfaces in a long, easy finish. Nominating reader Monique Tam calls this "The best 100% Kona I have tasted." It certainly was the best of the four Konas I sampled for this month's cupping.
Deep and balanced, smooth in mouthfeel, low in acidity, rich with sweet wine- and chocolate-cherry-toned fruit and a resiny hint of cedar. Nominating reader John Outler applies the technical tasting term "Yummy!" to this coffee before continuing "Perfect intersection between dark and light [roast]. Not too bitter."
Crisply rich in the aroma, with sweet apple-toned high notes. In the cup simple and engaging as an early Beatles song, with an acidity felt rather than tasted and seductively fruity milk chocolate notes. W. Morris Brown Jr. nominated this coffee with a simple tribute: "I like it."
A lush, complex cup that derives some of its considerable appeal from slightly fermented fruit tones: apricot in the aroma, apple and pear in the cup, all turned overripe and slightly chocolate-leaning by the ferment. Some cups were gloriously sweet and juicily fruity; others slightly bitter in the finish. Marcus Fitzsimmons nominated this coffee, adding a general plug for Caribou Coffee: "Awesome selection of various coffees including a welcoming store-side atmosphere."
A gently austere cup: balanced, lightly acidy, crisply and quietly complex: dried apricot, bittersweet chocolate, perhaps a twist of fresh-cut cedar. Softens and sweetens engagingly as it cools. Reader Maria Rueda from Washington, D.C. finds "It's the best coffee I've every tried!"
Superbly complex aroma; elegantly fruity: ripe apricot, cherry, cedar, fresh leather. Slightly imbalanced in the cup by an intense acidity only partly buffered by sweetness, but recovers itself in a long, rich finish. Anonymously nominated.
Simple aroma, bittersweet without much complication - a shimmer of fruit perhaps. In the cup turns from simple to gently classic: sweet, nutlike, temperate fruit notes reading as milk chocolate. Nominated by Deborah Ciangura of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Deep, resonant aroma, gently pungent, complicated by ripe cherry and fresh leather. In the cup settles into a classic traditionally processed Sumatra cup: musty earth tones and tart fruit notes, tamarind and dry cherry perhaps. Reader Pat Teel nominated another Hunter Bay coffee (Kaffe Moose Drool); we received this one as a bonus.
Low-key, bittersweet and roasty in the aroma with suggestions of apple and charred cedar. In the cup sweet floral top notes float almost irrelevantly over the rather densely monotoned, pungently dark-roast heart. The cup softens and sweetens as it cools, however, allowing the floral notes to bloom in pleasant counterpoint to the pungency.
Rich, sweet aroma with distinct caramel tones in the finish. Gently lively in the cup, with caramel, cocoa, and temperate fruit notes - I'd call them apple. A low-key cup, just spirited enough to avoid laziness. Several readers nominated Dunkin' Donuts coffees.
Complex aroma: sweet chocolate, some shimmers of flowers and spicy cedar. For me the cup was contradictory rather than balanced, its sweet chocolate tones uneasily cohabiting with a sharp acidity: think sweet-and-sour chocolate. Nominating reader Woodard Springstube reports that "Plantation Blend is a long-time favorite of mine, although I like all of Community's blends."
In the aroma this light-to-medium-roasted coffee is sweet, high-toned but round, with a whiff of lightly fermented fruit that suggests brandied chocolate. In the cup the agreeably rich, overripe fruit is complemented - or contradicted - by a sweet-toned but blunt acidity. The finish is long and rather heavily astringent. Several readers nominated Gevalia coffees, including this blend.
Decent enough in the aroma: sweetly pungent, balanced, intensely roasty with a twist of slightly charred cedar. In the cup sweet and pungent, but the charred cedar notes turn to charred board notes, expressionless and woody. A vague hint of fruit at the top of the profile. I hope the nominating reader tasted a better sample of the Verona than this one.
Intensely roasty; no rubber tones but overwhelmingly charred. Rather light-bodied but dense in sensation. The burned notes carry resiny hints of charred pine and pungent Mediterranean herbs; rosemary perhaps. Reader P. Teel found this coffee "deep, rich and flavorful."
This particular sample of Original Blend exhibited an almost academically thorough anthology of coffee taints and shadow defects. Some cups were flat and musty, others seemed additionally green and astringent, and some were rich with a rather pleasant apricot-toned sweet ferment (perhaps what nominating reader Des Cabigan cited as "a sniff of oranges"). But not a single cup appeared on the table without some taint or other. Presumably the several nominating readers based their emails on a better iteration of the Original Blend than this one, something closer to the version to which I gave an 87 rating in 2002.
A thoroughly dispirited coffee, with little sweetness and limited nuance aside from hints of nondescript fruit and a sort of vegetal, slightly charred cocoa. This particular sample appears to consist of green coffees of ordinary to poor quality that were poorly roasted to boot. Presumably nominating reader C. Dowling got luckier than I did when he was inspired to nominate this blend as a "mellow ... all-around coffee."
The aroma is intense but narrow in range and lacking nuance. In the cup definitively flat, with a flavor-dampening mustiness that reads as dull mildew rather than rich earth. Brightened only by a faintly woody sweetness and the barest hint of acidity. Nominated anonymously.