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2003-2004 Sweet Maria's Coffee Cupping Reviews Archive: R - S

Rwanda

Rwanda Gatare Grade A
Country: Rwanda Grade: A Region: Gatare, Cyangugu Province, Western Rwanda Mark: Gatare Washing Station
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: late Dec 2004 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: I will come flat out and say it: I really like Rwandan coffee... not all of it, but some of it. And the potential is great. Why? Great altitude, climate and seedstock. The cup has classic East African character with a bright, firm, lively character. It has floral notes, is clean, has pungent and sweet elements. It's the stuff that gets a coffee cupper like me excited. This is our second year of purchasing Rwandan coffee we were able to cup quite a few offerings --- this Gatare Grade A really jumped out of the pack. Like most all Rwandan coffee, it is from a combination of small-holder farms and small estates, each with a small output of parchment coffee but together able to produce an exportable lot. The Gatare Washing Station is the coffee mill for the town, located in the most productive and fertile coffee area in Rwanda, the Western District near Lake Kivu. (This is #4 on the coffee map above). This microclimatedistrict has a whopping 1700-2000 meter coffee growing altitude, a range not found in many places. This is small-holder (basically, village coffee gardens of less than 1 hectare) coffee and is 100% traditional Bourbon arabica! The wet-milling, raised-bed-drying and dry-milling is done on-site at the co-op mill (called a washing station). The cup qualities depend greatly on the roast, and yet the coffee is terrific with a variety of roast treatments: at a lighter City stage it has great floral aromatics, with a more pungent, intense aspect emerging in the aroma at a Full City stage. This is going to sound odd, but this darker roast aroma has a dark wood aroma that reminds me of vintage furniture - and I mean that in a good way! It's not a sweet aroma, but very pleasing. I suppose it makes more sense to say that this aromatic woodiness is in the cup flavors of the dark roast too, along with black walnut, mild-dark chocolate, and a hint of fruit. In the light roast the cup has an Earl Grey hint with a twist of lemon rind, orange blossom floral, zesty, and spicy. The body is fairly light, but the cup is complex in that this coffee shows you different sensations as the aroma passes to flavors passes to aftertaste - in other words, it unveils itself in a very interesting way, and with each different roast treatment, it shows a slightly different variation on its overall theme.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium/ floral aromatics, brightness, complexity.
add 50 50 Roast: City to Full City+ and on. This has great dark roast potential, but of course I find more flavors worth discovering in the medium range of City. See my roast photo above to discern the difference between them
Score (Max. 100) 86.1 Compare to: Has qualities of a lower-acid Yirgacheffe (like the lot we had early in 2003) and Tanzanian, but is like neither exactly - a distinct East African cup profile.

Saint Helena 

Isle of Saint Helena -see our unfortunate comments about this coffee on the St. Helena page.
Country:
Saint Helena (British Protectorate)
Grade:
1
Region:
Saint Helena
Mark:
St. Helena Coffee Company, Coffee Ground Plot
Processing:
Wet-Processed (washed)
Crop:
2003
Appearance:
.2d/300gr -
Flatbean/Peaberry Mix
Varietal:
Heirloom Yemen Seedstock: "Green-Tipped Bourbon"
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3
Notes: St Helena is the very small island in the South Central Atlantic where Napoleon was banished to, and died. The island is just 8 miles long and 6 miles wide, but was a small but productive coffee producer owned entirely by the Dutch East India Co. until recently. Because the cost of production was so high and the shipping costs so outrageous (St Helena has only 1 boat, the RMS Saint Helena, servicing the island every every 2 weeks) the farms was left largly abandoned for decades. Only in the past 10 years has the coffee production been revitalized under the care of one David Henry, and the current output is about 4,500 lbs per year. We have the only 2 bags of this coffee in the U.S. from the '01 crop. Compare this to a small Central American estate that can produced 2 containers, or 75,000 lbs per year, and you understand that this is a very rare coffee indeed. And why else is it special? Because the seedstock used to cultivate it is pure heirloom varietal Yemen brought to the island in 1730. Mr. Henry revitalized the production with meticulous care by nursing new seedlings from the aged 100 year old trees. The coffee looks like a wet-processed Sana'ani: a light opal color, small, roundish, flat with a well-defined edge. The coffee is guaranteed by Mr. Henry to be non-certified, but 100% Organic, sustainabley grown. The cup? The acidity is bright, citrus-berry but not sour, the body is medium light (let is rest and the body really comes up), and there is a distinct spicy-pepperiness in the cup. In the finsh there are flavors ranging from cola nut to a pungent creosote and chocolate notes in the darker roasts. The brightness is very roughly similar to an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It's a clean cup, balanced too when the coffee is allowed to rest 24-36 hours after roasting (recommended), deep. .... Its expensive! ...but for obvious reasons of high production costs. And it is unique ---there is no coffee like it!You can read more about the coffee on our additional Saint Helena Pictures page, and on the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal's cover article on Saint Helena, April '01
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
(after 72+ Hours Rest!
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2
add 50 50
Roast: City to Full City. If you like the brightness, keep it lighter. If you are willing to mute the brightness for the sake of complex roast tastes layered with the origin tastes, take it a couple snaps into 2nd crack. This coffee will take a little longer to enter 2nd crack than others. There is lots of character, this coffee will not get obliterated by a little darker roast tastes. I prefer the slightly heavier roast on this coffee. The coffee shows intense roast color, but does not expand as much as you would expect for a specific degree of roast.
Score (Max. 100) 90
Compare to: The Citrusy-berry notes of a Yirgacheffe, the balance of an island (Kona) coffee, the complexity (spice and chocolate) of a Yemeni dry-processed without the ferment or earthiness.

El Salvador  

El Salvador CoE Lot #19 -Montecarlos PB
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Cantón Saltillal, Apaneca, Ahuachapán Mark: Cup of Excellence, Montecarlos Farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19-20+ Screen Varietal: 100% Pacamara
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.2 Notes: Montecarlos is a larger and well-regarded coffee estate in El Salvador; in sense it is actually a volcano turned into a coffee estate. Here is some information from farm literature: "The farm occupies the sides of a single volcanic cinder cone in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range. It is composed of an area of over 1,500 acres out of which 2/3 are planted with coffee and 1/3 are part of a cloud forest inside the crater of the volcano. The altitudes vary from 1,800 meters at the top of the volcano to 1,000 meters at the bottom of it, with this particular lot coming from 1500 meters (4,921feet). The surrounding tropical cloud forest and different altitudes provide a wide range of different microclimates that in turn produce some very distinct qualities for its coffees. The entire Montecarlos Estate coffee production is half bourbon and half Pacamara. But at El Caracól, only Pacamara is grown. The pacamara is a hybrid between the Pacas and the Maragogype varieties. It was developed in El Salvador in the 70’s and Montecarlos was the first to plant it and develop it at an estate gourmet level. There are some 10,000 quintals of Pacamara produced in El Salvador and Montecarlos accounts for about half of them. It is worth noting that the Montecarlos Pacamara peaberries are a rare indeed, as they are the only Pacamara Peaberries produced in the world. Montecarlos won the most awards in this year’s cup of excellence competition for three different lots; Its coffees won 7th, 19th and 35th. The coffees from Montercarlos are wet processed, washed with clean mineral water at a tradtional wet mill, controlling key points of the milling process. Fermentation depends on weather conditions but it normally takes about 15 hours, drying method is 100% sundried." I have previously tried to indicate that the exact spot a coffee wins in the CoE competition isn't that important ... that a coffee that comes in at #5 might be the equal of a #15, given that each judge uses their own subjective tastes to score; the key point is that all are good coffees. And this #19 lot underscores my pint, it is truly an exceptional coffee. This is unusual becoause it is both the Pacamara cultivar, like the #15 La Montanita lot, but it is in fact the Peaberries culled out from the Pacamara. Pacamara Peaberry! A first for us ... and I had never heard that Pacamaras produced enough peaberry to sort it out and sell it separately. WHile this is a light body coffee, the prime attribute in the cup are the honeyed, citrusy and floral aromatics. In a blind cupping here at the shop, I thought it was a Yirgacheffe or similar Ethiopian wet-processed coffee! The cup has a "twist of lemon" flavor in the top end of the cup, with the previously mentioned light body and tea-like flavors - it does not develop strong roast tastes in the City+ range. Roasting it darker dimimishes the wonderful aromatics so my suggestion is to keep it well awawy from the 2nd crack, and enjoy it for what it is; a sweetly aromatic, breezy, light-intensity, delicate, and floral flavor profile.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweet, floral, citrus aromatics
add 50 50 Roast: See above; I think this coffee should be kept well away from 2nd crack, where it has the best bright end to the cup and the most floral aromatics. It is a delicate coffee, perhaps a bit simple, but really charming!
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Has some wet-processed Ethiopian character in the aroma, and an unusual character overall for a Central American. Yes, the Panama Jaramillo comes to mind.

El Salvador CoE Lot #15 -La Montanita
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: El Tunel, La Palma, Chalatenango Mark: Cup of Excellence, La Montanita Farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19-20+ Screen Varietal: 100% Pacamara
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: La Montanita is an extremely small farm, only 2 Hecatares in total (that's just under 5 acres). It is planted entirely with the large-bean Pacamara cultivar. If you are not familiar with it, Pacamara is a cross between a naturally-occuring hybrid if Caturra (known for its citrusy acidity) and the so-called elephant-bean cultivar, Maragogype (know for it's low-yeild trees with huge bean size). The result is a non-traditional cup character with medium body, bright and libely acidity and unusual flavor profiles. The farm was hadnded down through the family to the current owner, Antonio Aguilar. He runs his own wet-mill so all steps of the coffee cultivation and processing are under the control of the farm (a true Estate coffee). While the farm is not organic certified, like many coffee farms it could be ... Antonio does not use herbicides and practices manual weed control. He uses organic fertilizers like, chicken manure, coffee pulp and counts on nature for insect control. La Montanita is located in the Alotepec Mountain Range and has excellent altitude for coffee (1460 meters, 4790 feet)which accounts for the slowly-maturing, dense coffee seeds and better acidity in the cup. But in the case of Pacamara, a lot of the cup character comes from this unusual cultivar. The high notes in the cup have citrus tones but are more rounded, not drying or tart. For a Pacamara, it has very good body and exceptional balance. The key here is to take the roast to the verge of 2nd crack, trying to stop the roast just as the coffee enters it, or just before. At this temperature (around 445 f) the cup has the best aromatics, delivers a citrus-flower brightness to the middle of the palate and has a neat, black walnut roast taste. There's a very slight, pleasant husky note in the aftertaste, on of the curious artifacts of the Pacamara flavor profile.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Aromatics, unique character / Brightness and aroma -Unique flavor profile for this origin
add 50 50 Roast: Full City/ Full City+. See the notes above. City roast is a bit odd with this coffee, almost like green onions, so it requires just a bit more time in terms of "degree of roast". Also be aware that these large Pacamara beans will not agitate as easily in an air roaster, so reduce batch size slightly. Best to roast manually and stop at the verge of 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Unusual among the El Salvador coffees, a character driven more by the cultivar (Pacamara) than the origin.

El Salvador CoE Lot #12 -San Jose
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Canton Los Trozos, Juayúa, Sonsonate Mark: Cup of Excellence, San Jose Farm
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late August 2004 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Traditional Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: The lot coffee we selected from the San Jose farm is markedly different than the other 2 CoE Salvadors we bought in 2004. This is the quintessential Salvador cup, the traditional and highly regarded Bourbon cultivar. One of the great applications for this coffee is in espresso blends as the aromatic farctor and to give the cup a distiguished and clear bright note, an accent mark in terms of flavor. There was a lot of talk about Ernesto Illy using quite a bit of the Salavador Bourbons for this reason, especially since Illy is so particular about the cultivar and the bean denisty of the coffees they use. The Borubons grown at sufficient altitude are very physically dense. (You can see this as you take the roast darker - the central crease in the seed remains tight, and no offshooting "cracks" develop that would indicate softer, low elevation coffee). The farm is at a very impressive 1,550 meters (5,085 feet). Some background from the farm literature: "In 1944, Mr. Rodolfo Ruffatti acquired this farm and currently his great-grandchildren run it, Mauricio, Adela and Fiorella. They are committed to continuing their ancestor’s legacy. Mr. Mauricio Ruffatti recognizes that coffee has a historical compromise not only with this country but also the hundreds of people that depend on this crop. He has worked the farm steadily and has made jobs available for people.There are two families that live on the farm that count on electricity, running water, and housing free of charge and steady jobs. There is a 14-hectare forest on the property located at the highest point of the farm.The total area of San Jose farm is 70 hectares and it is at an average altitude of some 1550 meters above sea level; 56 hectares of this farm are planted with Bourbon Coffee trees. The farm is in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range; the fresh air and perfect microclimate are perfect for growing high quality coffee. The fertilization is injected and applied at the ideal moment. This provides the best nutrition for the coffee trees and helps protect the environment. The application of organic materials is also used, as well as manual weed control." In the cup, this coffee shouts out Bourbon! (By the way, you say this "Burr-bone", not Bur-bun). It is insrutably balanced, bright, bittersweet; a "classic" Central American flavor profile. There's a fine balance between nutty and chocolate roast flavors, hints of vanilla and caramel in the finish, but not what I would call a sweet cup. This sort of "muscular" and balanced coffee lends itself perfectly to espresso, and in fact, roasted to a light Vienna roast, I like it as a 100% straight shot. An Illy approach is to use a blend of it with Brazil (I would use 80% Ipanema or Bom Jardim Natural, and 20% San Jose ... Illy does not use this much natural though, they prefer more Pulped Natural Brazils.) Note that the scores are given for drip/press coffee, and if I graded it for espresso to it would go much higher.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Classic Bourbon profile, "clean cup" - As espresso, excellent straight or blended
add 50 50 Roast: For drip/press coffee this can take a wide range between City + and Full City ++, a bit into 2nd crack. The character really holds up throughout the roast range. For espresso it can also take a wide range between Full City and Vienna, or French. It is a very dense seed and holds up to darker roasts very well. Vienna roast drip develops very nice anise/licorice notes.
Score (Max. 100) 86.6 Compare to: Classic Central American cup profile, bourbon cultivar and very high grown. Truly dual-use, as drip/press or as espresso.

El Salvador Chalatenango -Zona Alta
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Northern El Salvador - Los Planes, Chalatenango Mark: Zona Alta Co-op Group
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: The area in and around Los Planes where the coffee comes from is an average of 5500 feet in altitude, with a year-round cool climate and well-draining volcanic soils. While this coffee is organically grown from 100% Bourbon varietal arabica under a shade-tree canopy, it is not certified Organic. The coffee is hand-pulped, fermented per the wet-process method, and sun-dried on the patio with hourly "raking" of the parchment coffee to ensure even drying. This coffee shines in the aromatics: sweetly floral with a hint of cocoa. The flavors on the palate are floral with a distinct coffee-cherry fruitiness (if you have been lucky to taste a fresh ripe coffee cherry, you would recognize this flavor right away!). There is a mild but persistent sweetness throughout the cupping, adding to the charm of the cup. As it cools, a nutty-almondy flavor emerges in the finish- very nice! It has a fairly light mouthfeel and mild aftertaste, which makes this a really refreshing break from the heavy-handed cup profiles like the Africans and Indonesians. This coffee is the result of a localized affort to get a better price to small co-op of farmers, focused on quality. You can find out more about the Zona Alta project at http://www.zonaalta.org/
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: A City to Full City roast is ideal here, and not more than a few snaps into 2nd crack. You want to preserve the delicate flavor nuances here.
Add 50 50 Compare to: Medium-bright, flavorful, floral, sweet Centrals … it cups very much like a Bourbon cultivar, and has some Antigua-like characteristics.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / balance and brightness

El Salvador Cup of Excellence- San Francisco Farm
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB -Strictly Hard Bean Region: Buenos Aires, Chalchuapa Mark: 2003 COE Auction Lot #9, Finca San Francisco
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: While this coffee ranked #9 in the Cup of Excellence competition for El Salvador, it was my personal #1. It is 100% traditional Bourbon arabica cultivar, and is exclusively sun-dried on patios. It comes from an altitude of 4900 f eet, the San Francisco farm owned by Juan Francisco Rodríguez, 4th generation of a coffee growing family. Sr. Rodriguez was a founding member of the wet-mill co-op, along with 27 other small farms, called the Cuzcachapa cooperative. At his farm, some 80 workers are employed for harvest time and 6 people are permanently working on the coffee field through the cooperative effort. The coop helps the community in the maintenance of roads and providing economic support to surrounding communities complementing their bills for water supply. The cup is floral in the aromatics, both before and during brewing. This follows through on the first sip, when I often get a very floral burst, like brilliant hop flowers. When roasted to a lighter City stage, the coffee needs to rest a couple days to bring some equilibrium to the top end of the taste profile: this is bright coffee! This cup is complex, everything I look for in a high grown Central. With ample acidity, you can roast this a bit darker and get really amazing, tingly ripe-sweet orange notes in the cup. This overlays a complex, black tea flavor that persists through the finish at this slightly darker roast stage -very nice!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: This coffee resists the roast a bit and may need a little more time in the roast to hit the degree-of-roast you are targeting. It's very bright in the lighter City stage, and I had the most complex cups when it was true Full City, meaning that just a couple snaps of 2nd crack occurred and the roast was stopped.
add 50 50 Compare to: Bright, flavorful, complex Centrals … intensifying more as it cools. It truly compares only to Bourbon varietal Salvadors.
Score (Max. 100) 87.8

Sulawesi 

Sulawesi "Aged Kalossi" Toraja
Country: Indonesia: Sulawesi Grade: One Region: Sulawesi: Torajaland Mark: POI Aged Kalossi  
Processing: Semi-washed: Aged Crop: 1999 -Aged Appearance: .5 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: We finally found a lot of true Aged Sulawesi coffee, held back from the 1999 crop in Toraja to properly aged the cup. Aged coffees are rare only in that it costs the producer a lot of money to hold back a crop from the market, and to properly age it. Aged coffees need to be regularly rotated in the warehouse to make sure all bags age evenly and that a consistent moisture content is maintained. Aging coffee at origin means that the coffee will not dry out (if properly rotated in stock. Then the coffee has to be broken out of bags, mixed, and is then either re-bagged for shipment, or re-bagged and aged more. The aging process lowers the brightness (acidity) in the cup, increases the pungency, and (arguably) increases the body. The result is a bass-toned cup with oaky smokiness in the cup, and a thick mouthfeel. Compared to other aged Indonesians we have stocked, our regular customers might remember the Aged Sumatra Pwanu from 2 years ago: a cleaner, less aggressive cup than the Old Brown Java. This is like the Pwani: chocolatey, with pleasant, soft aged smokey character but without a hard edge in the cup. The aftertaste is lighter than other aged coffees, which have a tendency to stay with you for ... well ... a day or two! In scoring, I am compelled to add a +1 cuppers correction because the score punishes the coffee for low acidity, which is exactly what people who select this coffee will want!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: You can roast this anywhere from Full City to French to Flaming charcoal. If you roast it to a lighter city roast you need to rest it a few days to let body develop in the cup and mellow the more astringent roast taste. Resting 48 hours for all roasts of this cup is recommended.
add 50 50 Compare to: A bass-note cup with extremely low brightness, lots of depth and body, and a smokey aged character.
Score (Max. 100) 85.0

Also see the Monsooned Sulawesi and Aged Sulawesi reviews in the Archives

Sumatra 

Aged Sumatra Update As you may know, we have had some very nice Aged Sumatras in the past. These are not simply old coffees, they are carefully and intentionally aged at origin to produce a smokey, thick cup profile. A good Aged coffee actually has a dark, rustic sweetness to the finish. Unfortunately, some can be quite bad, with harsh rubbery aromatics and very bad cup flavors. We sold out of our delicious Aged Lintong, and at this writing, there is only some very poor lots available, which I refuse to buy. I will be on the lookout for anything upcoming though... Tom 3/05
Aged Sumatra Lintong
Country: Sumatra Grade: One Region: Lintong Mark:  
Processing: Semi-wet process, Aged 3 years at origin Crop: 99-2000 Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a aged coffee that originated with '99-'00 crop Lintong Grade One and was held in Sumatra 3 years for the aging process. Aged coffees are not simply old coffee! You can't just put some green coffee in your basement for 3 years and end up with aged coffee (although its fun to see what you get -other than moldy coffee!) The process has to occur in a controlled environment in the country of origin with appropriate climate to prevent the coffee from drying out. The bags are turned and rotated in their stacks every so often, and the rebagged before shipping. It costs a lot to hold onto a stock of coffee like this, and the final results can be disastrous! The coffee can be ruined at any point along the way, and result in a total loss. I have cupped terrible Aged coffees that someone is attempting to pass off (with little luck). This Aged Lintong is a really, really nice lot, and to my mind strikes a balance between the two cup profiles of Aged coffees we have stocked. On the one hand we have mildly Aged flavors that are not that far from a very earthy, very funky non-aged Sumatra. On the other we have deeply aged coffees that have no sweetness remaining, are low in aromatics but have full-on smoky, biting Aged character. But here we have a lot that is both loaded with aged character, AND has sweetness. Even more than that, there is a wonderful finish to the cup, a molasses-sorghum syrup sweetness, a deeply caramelized (not burned) sweetness that is very special. The sophistication of the finish and aftertaste of this cup really sets it apart. The body in this cup is rather slight for the first 48 hours after roasting and then comes up immensely. I cupped some after 5 days and couldn't believe how the coffee balanced out, and the body was so huge. Even the 2 people here who dislike aged coffees really responded to this cup after the couple days of additional resting time.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City. I like this roasted a few snaps into second crack, or a tad darker for espresso uses. This coffee gets smoother and more sophisticated as it rests. Give it 48-72 hours If you are a BBQ roast enthusiast or have heat control, use a low initial heat when the coffee hits the roast chamber/drum, and raise it progressively.
add 50 50 Compare to: Complex, low acid, deep, brooding cup profile.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Body, smokey, woody

Sumatra Mandheling Grade 1 Lot 1613
Island: Sumatra Grade: One "Region" Central Sumatra -Mandheling Mark: None 
Processing: Semi-washed
(but called "dry")
Crop: Nov 2003 arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Dry-processed Sumatran coffees are the boldest of the Indonesian coffee-growing world. Low-acid, deep, complex; it is entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Toba and Lake Takengon (Mandheling is not really a region ...it is a Sumatran ethnic group) has a heavy body (dry-processing aids this) and a rich, complex earthy flavor. It has a pleasing, tangy bittersweet and aggressive musty twist in the flavor which makes it so popular among fans of the darker roast. Sumatras are earthy to varying degrees. It's Sumatra, it's great, and when it is a really good lot (and not past crop!) it always is: what more can be said. This coffee is basically dry processed, so DO NOT cull out odd-looking beans before roasting ...you will be surprised how well things work out in the end. You can't buy Sumatras based on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. This is a special lot we were able to buy, since there are SO many lots of Grade 1 Sumatra to choose from. Anyone can stock a Sumatra -just all any broker and buy a bag. But getting a really good lot takes a lot of cupping and a good sense of timing. The best Sumatras usually aren't the first arrivals of the new season, nor the last, but exactly where the crop quality will peak is hard to say. This lot is a late arrival and a cleaner Mandheling cup profile than the earlier coffees. It's still a true Mandheling cup though, with a touch of earth and aromatic woodiness, low acidity, a deep cup with a very full body.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color). Uneven roast color in a Sumatra is normal and expected in the lighter roasts!
add 50 50 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
Score (Max. 100) 85.8

Sumatra Aceh Gold -Super Prep
Country: Sumatra Grade: Super Prep Region: Aceh, North Sumatra Mark: Aceh Gold 
Processing: Semi-dry -processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: .1 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: We really didn't need another Sumatra for our offering list, but I just can't pass up a great cup. The Aceh Gold is a mid-crop/late-crop offering that simply blew me away - so much spice, aromatic, syrupy flavors, clean yet intense. The cup has some similarities with the Sumatra Iskandar Triple Pick - a tarry, molasses body, deep flavors that are delivered in a plump body and stay around in the aftertaste for a long, long time. Right after roasting the coffee is more hidey and wild than sweet or floral. It needs time to balance out the flavors and to develop its body. With proper resting it has a dark sweetness, like blackstrap molasses, on top of a mossy-humus flavor that describes a walk in a wet subtropical forest, when I think about it! I want to say that the coffee has the mouthfeel and flavor range of a good brandy, especially when we make it in a Vacuum brewer, but I would be a bit out of my are of expertise with that assessment. It's a heavyweight, that's for sure, roasted to a finish temperature before 2nd crack. Remarkably, it tones down a bit if roasted into 2nd crack. We had remarkable cups from a roast that was 25 seconds into 2nd crack (about 8:30 minutes) on an air roaster ... it was bittersweet chocolate laced with dark cherry fruitiness: fantastic!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: I like this a few snaps into 2nd crack, a Full City + roast. You can go darker, you can go lighter with this coffee. It really excels at a wide range of roasts.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Potent, spicy, but clean (not too earthy) Sumatras like the Iskandar or Lake Tawar.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9

Aged Sumatra Mandheling
Island: Sumatra Grade: One "Region": Mandheling Mark: Holland Aged
Processing: Semi Wet Process, Aged Crop: 1999 Crop Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a aged coffee that originated with '99 crop Mandheling Grade 1 and was held in Sumatra 3 years for the aging process. Aged coffees are not simply old coffee. You can't just put some green coffee in your basement for 3 years and end up with aged coffee (although its fun to see what you get -other than moldy coffee!) The process has to occur in a controlled environment in the country of origin with appropriate climate to prevent the coffee from drying out. The bags are turned and rotated in their stacks every so often, and the rebagged before shipping. It costs a lot to hold onto a stock of coffee like this, and the final results can be disastrous! The coffee can be ruined at any point along the way, and result in a total loss. I have cupped terrible Aged coffees that someone is attempting to pass off (with little luck). But this Aged Sumatra is wonderful... It has no acidity, tons of body, and wonderful strong aged flavors: very smokey (hickory), spicy, pungent, chocolatey, with a very long aftertaste. We bought this lot because I feel it has a more "aged" quality and more powerful cup, although it is a little less attractive in appearance than other age coffees we have had. But you don't cup coffee by looking at it! And this has the look of a true aged coffee: yellow orange. This coffee is exceptional in espresso blends and not bad as a straight roast espresso.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City. I like this roasted well into second crack, Vienna or so, or a tad darker for espresso uses. If the coffee is too potently bitter for you, try blending it 50-50 with a non-Aged Sumatra or a Sulwesi. Allow this coffee to rest 24-48 hours!
Add 50 50 Compare to: Deep, pungent, potent, smokey ... not for everyone!
Score (Max. 100) 84.5

Sumatra Mandheling "Classic" Lot 4365
Island Sumatra Grade: 1 Island: "Mandheling" -Toba region Mark: Lot 4365
Processing: Semi-washed process Crop: 2003 Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: For general information about Mandheling, see the Sumatra introduction and the review for the other Grade 1 coffees. It dawned on me, as the mid crop 2003 Mandheling samples arrived, that the quality was good, even among the lesser ones. When we started getting the really nice mid-crop samples it was clear that this was going to be a special year for Sumatras. I can't say whether this is due to better human effort in producing and preparing the lots, or whether it's due to favorable weather through the flowering and fruiting stages. It is probably a combination of both. Since my "strategy" in cupping is simply to buy everything I think is really excellent, I found that I ws getting smaller quantities of more lots, each with their own special character. So (despite some grumbling over the extra hassle) I decided we had to offer multiple lots of Mandheling at the same time, with separate cupping reviews to explain their unique character. While the 4009 lot is the aggressive, musty Mandheling, I indulged myself and labeled this 4365 lot "Classic." There's a good reason: this is the kind of Mandheling I used to roast 10 - 15 years ago, the classic Mandheling cup character that defined the origin back when Specialty coffee was itself being defined in the U.S. It really looks like a Grade 1 from the old days -extremely nice preparation with much less percentage of defects than we have seen in recent seasons. Yes, it has that aggressive, woody, earthy (slightly mossy) character. But it also has a sweet fruitiness, lightly caramel. In other words, it has a bit of all the defining Sumatra flavors in one cup -incredibly balanced between them. Most people might taste this and just say "boy, that's nice Sumatra". But I really enjoy the depth and balance of this cup, qualities that I haven't enjoyed in a Gr. 1 Mandheling for a long time.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
add 50 50 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
Score (Max. 100) 87

Sumatra Mandheling DP Super Prep
Country: Sumatra Grade: Grade 1, Super Prep Region: Lake Toba, NW Sumatra Mark: Super Prep Grade One
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: 2003 Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Sumatra cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Specially prepared Sumatras used to be a very, very difficult thing to find. Michael Sivetz, who basically invented the concept of air roasting that many home roaster's employ, has a section in his book Coffee Quality that bemoans the poor preparation of "Grade 1" Sumatras. But it is also true that the inclusion of unattractive coffee in some of those Mandhelings gives them their "oomph!" Take them out and you can actually have an overly-prepped Sumatra, a cup without the exotic "forest floor" earthiness and deep husky flavors that define the origin character of this coffee. That's the danger of the Triple Picks. What do I mean by Triple Pick and Super Prep.? Simply that the coffee has undergone obvious and extensive hand-sorting beyond the norm, and it is clear when you see it beside a Grade 1 Mandheling. (But if you really love Sumatras, cup them side by side ... you may like the less refined Grade 1 DP flavors more!) From the mildest Triple Pick, probably the Batak of late '02, to the Iskandar, the TP coffees are refined, but not neutralized. They have a healthy dose of pungent spice, tarry astringency, and a touch of earth; but they also have a nip of brightness to balance the cup, butterscotch roast tastes, and an unmistakable fruitiness that ties the bright end of the cup together. Actually, I am describing a specific coffee that I am now enjoying: the Sumatra Mandheling DP (dry-process) Super Prep. It's a smaller bean size than the Iskandar, but every bit as perfect with dark opalescent color. The flavors on the palate are excellent and you can really roast this quite light if you like (I do): the coffee will look unattractive and mottled in color if you stop it short of any sign of 2nd crack, but rest it 24 hours and enjoy ALL the true complexity of flavors in a Sumatra!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: My favorite: a lighter City roast stopped before 2nd crack, with no indication at all that it reached 2nd crack -the coffee will look mottled but cup great! Like all Sumatras, it is usually roasted darker than this, and it is a great cup a bit into 2nd crack too!
add 50 50.0 Compare to: A premium Sumatra that hasn't lost its punch… Iskandar, Tawar, Karo Highlands, but a slightly smaller bean size.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5

Sumatra Mandheling DP Grade 1 -Lot4009
Island:SumatraGrade:One"Region"MandhelingMark:None
Processing:Semi-washed (but called "dry")Crop:Late 2002 /03Appearance:2 d/300gr, 16-17 ScreenVarietal:Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3

Notes: Dry-processed Sumatran coffees are the boldest of the Indonesian coffee-growing world. Low-acid, deep, complex; it is entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Toba and Lake Takengon (Mandheling is not really a region It is a Sumatran ethnic group) has a heavy body (dry-processing aids this) and a rich, complex earthy flavor. It has a pleasing, tangy bittersweet and aggressive musty twist in the flavor which makes it so popular among fans of the darker roast. It's Sumatra, it's great, and when it is a really good lot (and not past crop!) it always is: what more can be said. This coffee is dry processed, so DO NOT cull out odd-looking beans before roasting You will be surprised how well things work out in the end.

(This late 2002 new crop has a few white-ish beans in it that are usually associated with too much moisture content in coffee after the pergamino stage - however, we judge coffee by the cup character, not the look of the green. This Lot 4009 cup is excellent ... true earthy, pungent, new-crop Sumatra character with a brighter fruity snap in the cup too. -Tom 11/23/02)

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10)7
Flavor - Depth (1-10)8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10)7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
add 5050Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
Score (Max. 100)84
 

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