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Tanzania 

Tanzania Mount Meru Nkoanekoli
Country: Tanzania Grade: Estate Region: Nkoanekoli, Northern Mark: Mount Meru Nkoanekoli
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: It's good to have a little background information on Tanzanian coffees; A good Tanzanian coffee from the North can be a treat, but many lots that arrive in the U.S. never had a chance. The Northern coffees are grown near Kenya (Mt. Kilimanjaro) and bear that out in the cup: more acidity, lighter body. Southern district coffees from the mountains of the northeast rim of Lake Malawi are full bodied, have milder acidity, and extremely long in the aftertaste. The problem with Tanzanian Peaberry has less to do with where it is from and the original cup quality it possesses. Poor cup character is the result of poor transporation routes to port, and while at port the shipping container that is delayed from leaving the country can bake the coffee in the humid, blistering sun ...not good. So even a good Tanzanian coffee can go bad en route. The result are harsh, baggy flavors in the cup. This flatbean coffee shows none of that, and is a sweet coffee without much of the characteristic East African hidey character. There's just a tad of wildness in the finish, just enough to remind you where the coffee is from! The Meru Nkoanekoli is a northern coffee, and has that zingy bright character with lighter body. I get a lot of variability on these cups, but I find them all to be sweet, a husky light mollasses/ butterscotch sweetness. The wet aroma is where the coffee starts to come to life, with a zesty acidity, hints of pear fruit, and an interesting sweet carbony note in the finish, (it reminded me of honey barbeque!) As the cup cools, the perceived body increases, making this a very nice cup to linger upon and taste throughout the temerpature range. Again, there was some variability from cup-to-cup, and from roast-to-roast, but overall it's a very interesting cup profile, and very Tanzanian in this way.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Interesting acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: City+
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: East African brightness with slightly gamey "wild" note. Interesting sweetness and acidity.

Tanzania Peaberry WP Decaf
Country: Tanzania Grade: SHB Region:   Mark:  
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 screen Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: I have explained the benefits of this water-process coffee many times, so I will skip the introductions and go straight to the cupHere's an impressive decaf cup that would rate up there with the best Tanzania non-decaf lots. The aroma and wet fragrance from this coffee hint at the top end, high toned character in the cup. It's bright, lively, sweet, and still retains the unique East African flavor (just a bit wild) in the cup. While the body is light, throwing off the balance a bit, it is appropriate for this type of cup character, and overall this "works" - hence a +1 added back via a cupper's correction.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Lively, sweet, aromatic, light body
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Rates very well next to non-decaf Tanzania Peaberry (blind cupped against our library of Tanzania samples).

Tanzania AAA Songea
Country: Tanzania Grade: AAA Region: Songea District Mark: Schluter Exports
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: It's good to have a little background information on Tanzanian coffees; A good Tanzanian coffee from the North can be a treat, but many lots that arrive in the U.S. never had a chance. The Northern coffees are grown near Kenya (Mt. Kilimanjaro) and bear that out in the cup: more acidity, lighter body. But the Southern district coffees from the mountains of the northeast rim of Lake Malawi are full bodied, have milder acidity, and extremely long in the aftertaste. The problem with Tanzanian Peaberry has less to do with where it is from and the original cup quality it possesses. Poor cup character is the result of poor transporation routes to port, and while at port the shipping container that is delayed from leaving the country can bake the coffee in the humid, blistering sun ...not good. So even a good Tanzanian coffee can go bad en route. The result are harsh, baggy flavors in the cup. This flatbean coffee shows none of that, and is a sweet coffee without much of the characteristic East African hidey character. What amazed me is I cupped this with a table of 17 Auction Lot Kenyas (the powerhouse E. African coffee) and it was my favorite. What struck me was this very aromatic Dutch cocoa quality in the cup, which really came out alongside some very citrusy, acidic Kenyas. It has vanilla hints, moderate brightness and a lighter body than last years crop. There are floral (rose) aromas as it cools to, and the chocolate -vanilla quality remains lively and soft (not bittersweet or harsh). This lot can really take a wide range of roasts and display a slightly different character in each, from a bright, light-bodied City roast to a pretty pungent Vienna, I would say it has multiple personalities but in a way this lends itself to the craft of roasting, and your interpretation of the coffee! I plan on having some real fun in the Probat with this one...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City to Full City or more- develops intense pungency at Vienna roast. I prefer it at City + where it is a sweeter and more nuanced cup, but can definitely take a dark roast.
add 50 50 Compare to: A more delicate and subtle Kenya.
Score (Max. 100) 87.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / clean and lively cup

Timor 

Timor FTO Maubesse
Country: Timor-Leste (East Timor ) Grade: One Region: Maubesse Mark: Fair Trade and SKAL organic certified co-op
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: November
2006 arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Timor Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: After gaining political independence from Indonesia, Timor-Leste (formerly called East Timor) still has a long way to go ... it's a rough place. Many institutions are not self-sufficient and the economy has few bright spots. And coffee is one of them. Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region. I like them both. Maubesse is a little brighter so most brokers / cuppers prefer it over the Aifu, but if you selectively buy from the best lots the Aifu can be every bit as good. Early in the crop cycle the Aifu cups best, and later on the Maubesse is a little better. And of course that's why you will see us stock Aifu early in the new crop and the Maubesse later. Quality is def
initely up this year in milling and preparation; the beautiful jade-colored green coffee is evidence of this. The cooperative mills that are the source for our Organic coffee have invested in new facilities, new wet-processing equipment, and improved standards of receiving and sorting only red, ripe cherry. This lot is FTO too- fair trade and organic certified. As far as the cup, Timor is not a funky, earthy coffee like Sumatra and Sulawesi; it has a cleaner cup profile more like a Java, and is something I would call a "quintessential crowd-pleasing coffee". When I ran cafes it would be a "good house coffee" ... everyone will enjoy it. The cup definitely has an initial hint of its Indonesian roots, just a touch of pleasant woody forest flavor and a more pronounced sweet herbal note in the aromatics. It doesn't spike in scoring at any point; it is a balanced cup. Body is key here: viscous, oily body. While it is a striking coffee at City+ roast (and has a lot of body for a lighter roast treatment), I prefer the roast character at FC+, a few snaps into 2nd crack. I also made some oustanding SO espresso (Single Origin) with straight Timor at FC+ with 2 days rest.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild/ Clean, refined cup
Add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC+ : I liked the darker roast treatment on this lot, and felt the body holds up really well.
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Compare to: A wet-processed Indonesia cup profile, like Java, with heavy body and hints of Indonesia rustic, "foresty" flavors

Timor FTO Peaberry
Country: Timor-Leste (East Timor ) Grade: One Region: Maubesse Mark: Fair Trade and SKAL organic certified co-op
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January
2006 arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, Peaberry 18 screen Varietal: Timor Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: After gaining political independence from Indonesia, Timor-Leste (formerly called East Timor) still has a long way to go ... it's a rough place. Many institutions are not self-sufficient and the economy has few bright spots. And coffee is one of them. Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region. I like them both. Maubesse is a little brighter so most brokers / cuppers prefer it over the Aifu, but if you selectively buy from the best lots the Aifu can be every bit as good. Early in the crop cycle the Aifu cups best, and later on the Maubesse is a little better. And of course that's why you will see us stock Aifu early in the new crop and the Maubesse later. Quality is definitely up this year in milling and preparation; the beautiful jade-colored green coffee is evidence of this. The cooperative mills that are the source for our Organic coffee have invested in new facilities, new wet-processing equipment, and improved standards of receiving and sorting only red, ripe cherry. This lot is FTO too- fair trade and organic certified. As far as the cup, Timor is not a funky, earthy coffee like Sumtra and Sulawesi; it has a cleaner cup profile and is something I would call a "quintessential crowd-pleasing coffee". When I ran cafes it would be a "good house coffee" ... everyone will enjoy it. The cup has an initial hint of its Indonesian roots, just a touch of pleasant woody forest flavor and a more pronounced sweet herbal note in the aromatics. It has more brightness to the cup than last years crop, and it is really quite a delicate coffee. It doesn't spike in scoring at any point; it is a refined, balanced cup, reminding me more of a nice high grown Kona than another Indonesian coffee origin. I enjoyed the floral aspects in the cup flavors and the aftertaste, but this was at quite a light roast, City (roasted through 1st crack and stopped). I also roasted this to a FC+ and thought the roast taste was very nice, with good bittersweetness and pungency. But the light roast was where the cup sparkled with life, and really expressed its distinct "origin character".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild/ Clean, refined cup
Add 50 50 Roast: City : You can roast this to a true City and get a great cup with more top end flavors, but let it rest 1-2 days or so after roasting to allow flavor (and body) development. Darker roasts were good, but the coffee lots some of its distinctive origin character.
Score (Max. 100) 85.5 Compare to: This lot is sweet, mild and clean, and has an "Island Flavor Profile" aka Kona (interestingly, both are traditional Typica cultivar, but from different strains.)

Timor Organic Maubesse
Country: East Timor Grade: 1 Region: Maubesse Mark: SKAL certified, co-op
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Timor Typica Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: After gaining political independence from Indonesia, Timor still has a long way to go ... it's a rough place. Many institutions are not self-sufficient and the economy has few bright spots. And coffee is one of them. Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region. I like them both. Maubesse is a little brighter so most brokers / cuppers prefer it over the Aifu, but if you selectively buy from the best lots the Aifu can be every bit as good. Early in the crop cycle the Aifu cups best, and later on the Maubesse is a little better. And of course that's why you will see us stock Aifu early in the new crop and the Maubesse later. Quality is definitely up this year, and the beautiful jade-colored green coffee is evidence of this. The cooperative mills that are the source for our Organic coffee have invested in new facilities, new wet-milling equipment, and improved standards of receiving and sorting only red, ripe cherry. This is a quintessential crowd-pleasing coffee, what I used to think of in the coffeehouse business as "good house coffee", a crowd-pleaser ...because everyone will enjoy it. It has an initial hint of its Indonesian roots, just a touch of pleasant woody-forest flavor (it's a good flavor, trust me!), nested in a low-acid cup profile with a thick heavy mouthfeel. As it cools, hints of cocoa and vanilla emerge in the background. I like this lot in particular because, unlike some previous Timor coffees that were very clean and mild, this one actually tastes like an Indonesian! I mean, if you like a good Sulawesi, you will find nice suggestions of that cup profile in this lot of Maubesse. It's a good solid cup. And the body seems to be a tad greater than the very clean, ubiquitous lots of '04. I like character - I want a coffee to taste like the place it is from, and I think this chop of Maubesse does that quite well (I think it deserves it's .5 point boost for having Timor character!)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) .5 Roast: City+ through Full City+: You can roast this to a true City and get a great cup with more top end flavors, but let it rest 2 days or so after roasting. It is good as a dark roast too but lacks distinction.
Add 50 50 Compare to: The body of a Java with a full-bodied, clean, low acid cup, but more character in the direction of a Sulawesi.
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / balance

See the 2003-2004 Archive too

Uganda 

Uganda AA Bugisu
Country: Uganda Grade: AA Region: Mt. Elgon area, Mbale Mark: Mbale Bugisu
Coffee Factory
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late May 2005 Appearance: 1 d/300gr,
17-18 screen
Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mount Elgon lies in the Eastern reaches of the country, straddling the Uganda/Kenya border. Judging by its enormous base it is thought that Mt Elgon was once the tallest mountain in Africa. The coffee shambas extend up and down the cliff faces, making use of natural water gullies and forest cover to extract moisture from the soil. The Sipi Falls is one of the great natural features of the Elgon region where this coffee originates, with small holder farms between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. It is a steep and difficult terrain to traverse in the rainy seasons; often there are no roads, only dirt tracks which are washed away by the rains. But the Bagisu tribesmen who live on the mountain have become expert coffee farmers and have developed their own transportation methods: Donkeys! This cup is so different from other East African coffees (and it has nothing to do with the donkeys). It has a full body and lower acidity than neighboring coffee origins. In fact, this Bugisu is a reminder that the way we think of coffee flavors, grouping coffees into general flavor categories (the Indonesians, the Central Americans, the Brazils, etc) can be misleading. This Uganda belongs, in flavor terms, more to Indonesia than to East Africa. It has that thickness, that low acidity, and also the husky deep tones of the Indonesian Island coffees, somewhere between a Java and a Sulawesi. There are rustic fruity notes, mild earthiness, qualities that make us think of Indonesia. The difference with this lot of Bugisu (and why it is often hard to find an exemplary Ugandan coffee) is that it is not a dirty cup, not tainted by gamey flavors or fermenty notes. Rustic yes! Foul no! With the wider acceptance of "good" coffee flavors blanketing more exotic flavors, more rustic flavors, these distinctions become more detailed, and somethines more difficult to make. For me, the line is clear, and that is why we could not stock a Uganda for the past 6 months - too much dirt, too much rotten fruit, not enough good clean earthiness! (I jest, sort of...)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, rustic fruitiness
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at Full City to Full City+; you don't have to be too gentle with this coffee. It takes a heavier roast well.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: A unique E. African coffee. more Indonesian in cup profile.
Uganda Organic Bugisu
Country: Uganda Grade: HB Region: Mt. Elgon region, Mbale Mark:
Organic Bugisu
Processing: Wet Process Crop: March 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 16-18 screen Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mount Elgon lies in the Eastern reaches of the country, straddling the Uganda/Kenya border. Judging by its enormous base it is thought that Mt Elgon was once the tallest mountain in Africa. The coffee shambas extend up and down the cliff faces, making use of natural water gullies and forest cover to extract moisture from the soil. The Sipi Falls is one of the great natural features of the Elgon region where this coffee originates, with small holder farms between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. It is a steep and difficult terrain to traverse in the rainy seasons; often there are no roads, only dirt tracks which are washed away by the rains. But the Bagisu tribesmen who live on the mountain have become expert coffee farmers and have developed their own transportation methods: Donkeys! It is also woth noting that this is the only certified organic coffee from Uganda at this time, and is also Utz Kapeh certified (this is what we call "fair trade lite." For more information visit www.utzkapeh.org). This cup is so different from other East African coffees, with a full body lower acidity than neighboring coffee origins; low acidty, heavy body, rustic aspects. It is more reminicent of Indonesian cup character than citric acidic coffees from Kenya and others. It took time for us to find a lot we really liked, something with some positive secondary characteristics. Here we have the deep tone range (lack of bright acidity), heavy body that reminds me almost of the oily Java mouthfeel, and mild rustic notes. But there is a unique raw Papaya flavor here too, giving added dimension to the cup.

 

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.1
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Heavy body, rustic and fruited character.
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at Full City and Full City +
Score (Max. 100) 85.2 Compare to: A unique E African coffee with an almost Indonesian character

Uganda AA Bugisu
Country: Uganda Grade: AA Region: Mt. Elgon area, Mbale Mark: Mbale Bugisu
Coffee Factory
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late May 2005 Appearance: 1 d/300gr,
17-18 screen
Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mount Elgon lies in the Eastern reaches of the country, straddling the Uganda/Kenya border. Judging by its enormous base it is thought that Mt Elgon was once the tallest mountain in Africa. The coffee shambas extend up and down the cliff faces, making use of natural water gullies and forest cover to extract moisture from the soil. The Sipi Falls is one of the great natural features of the Elgon region where this coffee originates, with small holder farms between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. It is a steep and difficult terrain to traverse in the rainy seasons; often there are no roads, only dirt tracks which are washed away by the rains. But the Bagisu tribesmen who live on the mountain have become expert coffee farmers and have developed their own transportation methods: Donkeys! This cup is so different from other East African coffees (and it has nothing to do with the donkeys). It has a full body and lower acidity than neighboring coffee origins. In fact, this Bugisu is a reminder that the way we think of coffee flavors, grouping coffees into general flavor categories (the Indonesians, the Central Americans, the Brazils, etc) can be misleading. This Uganda belongs, in flavor terms, more to Indonesia than to East Africa. It has that thickness, that low acidity, and also the husky deep tones of the Indonesian Island coffees, somewhere between a Java and a Sulawesi. There are rustic fruity notes, mild earthiness, qualities that make us think of Indonesia. The difference with this lot of Bugisu (and why it is often hard to find an exemplary Ugandan coffee) is that it is not a dirty cup, not tainted by gamey flavors or fermenty notes. Rustic yes! Foul no! With the wider acceptance of "good" coffee flavors blanketing more exotic flavors, more rustic flavors, these distinctions become more detailed, and somethines more difficult to make. For me, the line is clear, and that is why we could not stock a Uganda for the past 6 months - too much dirt, too much rotten fruit, not enough good clean earthiness! (I jest, sort of...)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Full body, rustic fruitiness
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at Full City to Full City+; you don't have to be too gentle with this coffee. It takes a heavier roast well.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: A unique E. African coffee. more Indonesian in cup profile.

Uganda Organic Bugisu "Sipi Falls" -Utz Kapeh Certified
Country: Uganda Grade: HB Region: Mt. Elgon, Mbale Mark: Sipi Falls,
Organic +
Utz Kapeh
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Late April 2004 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: not known
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mount Elgon lies in the Eastern reaches of the country, straddling the Uganda/Kenya border. Judging by its enormous base it is thought that Mt Elgon was once the tallest mountain in Africa. The coffee shambas extend up and down the cliff faces, making use of natural water gullies and forest cover to extract moisture from the soil. The Sipi Falls is one of the great natural features of the Elgon region where this coffee originates, with small holder farms between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. It is a steep and difficult terrain to traverse in the rainy seasons; often there are no roads, only dirt tracks which are washed away by the rains. But the Bagisu tribesmen who live on the mountain have become expert coffee farmers and have developed their own transportation methods: Donkeys! It is also woth noting that this is the only certified organic coffee from Uganda at this time, and is also Utz Kapeh certified (this is what we call "fair trade lite." For more information visit www.utzkapeh.org). This cup is so different from other East African coffees, with a full body lower acidity than neighboring coffee origins. It is also different from the standard Uganda Busigu, with a slightly lighter body and more complexity in the cup flavors. The Sipi Falls Uganda has a remarkable Jasmine Tea quality in the cup that is the dominant cup flavor. There are hints of starfruit (the yellow, Asian fruit), pear and red cherry behind the tea-like flavors, and in a way it has a black tea finish to the cup. (In a later cupping, the light roast had a strawberry flavor). The roast taste is sweeter as the coffee is in your mouth though, turning to and intensified pungent black tea flavor in the long aftertaste, after the coffee is off your palate. This cup has a rustic quality as it cools, and gains intensity too. With this aftertaste I was reminded of a dry-processed Harar without as much brightness. It's quite a cup!

 

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / complex tea and fruit flavors
add 50 50 Roast: I had very good roasts at City+ to Full City; it takes a wide range of roasts but all the cupping notes are based on a Full City with no sign of 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: A unique E African coffee and a unique Uganda coffee, with a little less body than other Ugandas but much more interest in the complex cup flavors.

Vietnam 

see our ThumbsDown/UGH! coffee or see the 2001-2002 Archive


Yemen 

Yemen Mokha Mattari Full City+
Country: Yemen Grade: n/a Region: Bani Matar Mark:
Bags marked "Organic" but it is not certified.  
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: I have been working very hard to develop new Yemeni coffee sources, and this is part of my efforts. But read this review because I have a very particular recommendation with this coffee. When I received the sample I was impressed with the fact that it was intact, whole bean, non-broken-bits. Seriously, recent Yemeni lots have been so nasty looking, it's like they ran the coffee over with a truck, swept up the pieces and stuffed it in a burlap bag for export. There are the usual defects, with I rated at 1.8 in a 300 gram sample. I did 3 roasts: City+, FC, FC+/Light Vienna. When I ground the City roast sample, I could immediately sense the baggy notes in the coffee. Baggy coffees are old, and we use that term because the fats (lipids) in the green coffee take on aromatic taints associated with burlap. The baggyness surprised me too, because this coffee is a new arrival, just shipped in, but I explain that in the Yemen introduction comments. I checked the mositure content too (10.8%) which is respectable and fresh for a Yemen arrival. Anyway, I had this on a table with 12 other Dry-process Arabic/North African coffees, and I knew it wouldn't make it past the first round. And I was right, at least about the light roast cup. It had hay-like notes, jute bag flavors, straw. But then I hit the Full City cup with the spoon, and suddenly everything awful about the light roast transformed into a compelling cup. (And let me be clear, this is only something that can happen with a DP coffee like a Yemen, perhaps also in the case of Aged Sumatra too. Oldness in the cup is always bad in wet process coffees, in Centrals etc. ). Anyway, when I made it to the Full City+ cup, roasted just a few snaps into second, I was blown away. Here was a super-pungent, super-complex cup, with and initial blast of good aromatic woody notes, laced with clove and cinnamon, and leading into dark blackberry fruit flavors, and a hidden dark brown sugar sweetness. The long aftertaste has a dark, bittersweet, potent chocolate. It's intense, layered, and rustic. And it needs to be roasted toi the verge of 2nd crack, or into it. I went back and did a real Vienna roast, letting the 2nd crack start but not letting it get rolling. It was fantastic too. More black licorice in this cup, and more baker's chocolate. Anyway, the whole experience put me in a quandry: buy a coffee I know is old, but, with the right roast, has an amazing cup. I decided to go for it because I know, while this is not for everyone, those who like this flavor profile might have momentary coffee nirvana with this lot from Bani Matar. And that is why I put the recommended roast in the name "FC+" . In all, it's not a coffee I want to drink every single day ... it's too much. And I also feel like the resting time after roasting is going to play a big role in the cup experience. Oddly, I really enjoyed this initially with a very short 6 hour rest, although the body wasn't quite filled out yet. Next day, around 14 hour rest, it had the thick body that pairs so well with this intense, dense cup character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Darkly fruited cup  
add 50 50 Roast: FC+! That is, Full City + or light Vienna - a bit into 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 88.4 Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup.

Yemen Mokha Sana'ani
Country: Yemen Grade: n/a Region: Sanai
(mountains directly around the capital)
Mark: None
Processing: Natural Dry Process Crop: February 2005 arrival Appearance:

1 d/300gr,
14-16 Screen

Varietal: Heirloom Yemeni arabica seedstock
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Sana'ani refers to any coffee grown in the high altitudes around the Yemeni capital of Sanai (also Sana). These are perhaps lower in intesity than other Yemeni origins but have a bright, light cup profile with more fruited notes. In general, a Sana'ani coffee roasted lighter yields a unique cup compared to the brooding Mattari and prized Hirazi coffees. I cup them Sanani-type coffees regularily but don't buy often because they vary in quality. Our favorite was Yemen Sana'ani Saihi-type and the excellent Haimi-type, but these have has been unavailable for some time. This Sana'ani sample and it cups like the Haimi, and that's what itched my buy bone; bright fruitiness, a winey depth to the acidity, a touch of tobacco in the cup. I love the way this coffee passes through your senses while drinking it: it begans with a burst of pungent, earthy, hidey flavor; as the curtain lifts on the first wave of flavor a light, delicate peach-apricot fruitiness is revealed, and in the end a bit of cinnamon spiciness. The coffee has a good, firm tannic edge and dried fruit character but it will depend on your roast treatment of the coffee: At City+ in an air roaster, you get the maximum bright, light body cup. Slow down the roast and put it in a drum and the body is more accented (remember to rest the roast 48 hours for increased body) and a bit is taken off the top end. It has great fragrance as a dry coffee and great wet aromatics. This lot is really exceptional;at Full City roast there is a sweet, deep, winey fruit that emerges ... I upgraded the score +2 for this. I especially enjoyed light Vienna roast here also, where a dark caramelized sugar sweetness was still present, the fruit had turned broodingly winey, and the overal cup intensity made me want to play bongos and recite beatnik poetry. Okay, maybe not, but this new crop lot is excellent!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.0
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / natural-earthy-spicey-fruity-winey!
add 50 50 Roast: Full City Roast or darker. It certainly is outstanding and powerful in the darker stages. A light Vienna roast of this lot is delicious! You need to rest Yemens 2 days to allow the body to develop. Then again, cup aromas are best with a short 12-24 hour rest. HotTop users - be aware of small bean size and the large amount of chaff produced with a Yemeni roast.
Score (Max. 100) 88.0 Compare to: A brighter Yemen than the Mattari or Hirazi, more fruited and winey, perhaps thinner in body but still with good intensity and quality of mouthfeel. An interesting cross-cup comparison to the Ismaili. Small bean, expertly prepared coffee (but a natural coffee so occasional suprises - a small rock -- are possible.)

Yemen Mokha Ismaili (Hirazi)
Country: Yemen Grade: n/a Region: Bani Ismail, Hirazi Mark: Ismaili
Processing: Natural Dry Process Crop: July 2005 arrival Appearance:

1 d/300gr,
14-16 Screen

Varietal: Heirloom Yemeni
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Hirazi coffees are the the rarest and most prized Yemeni coffee by the Yemeni people and by the aficionados. This is from Bani Ismail, Bani meaning tribe an Ismail meaning the region ... and Ismail actually refers to Ishmail, the son of the prophet Abraham. Ismaili coffee has very small production and is a much more limited growing area( basically, one large mountain in Haraz or Hiraz) than other quality Yemeni coffees like Mattari. (Actually, the area of Hiraz has more coffee than Ismaili too, so you should see more coffee labeled as Hiraz than as Ismaili ... in any case you get the idea - Ismaili is rare!). In my mind it is the more pungent, complex and deep Yemen. I really like the fruity Yemens and the brighter notes in a really good Sana'ani, but these deep dark pungent notes are highly desirable: sage, tobacco, leather, dry fruit, cardamom, woody notes. The coffee is a very dense small bean and does not expand much during roasting. Its intensity will reveal itself to you as the aromatics unfold after it has rested for 24 hours after the roast, and they really emerge when you grind the coffee: the aromatics themselves are intoxicating, and in fact there is a sort of "Yemen Syndrome." I think you can experience aromas are so intense that other coffees seem to pale in comparison ....And even the resulting cup of Yemeni coffee you drink can't compare to it's very own aroma when you grind it!!! The intensity of Ismaili (and of Yemeni coffees in general) can be a bit of a shock on the first sip. I cupped the Ismaili after doing a table of Kenyas and it tasted rather hay and straw-like in the lighter roast. I didn't know if it was me or the coffee. The next day I returned to the cup (and to a bit darker roast levels too- Full City) and found it much nicer and on the 3rd day it really was coming on - much better body, spice, licorice/anise notes, chamomile flower hints. This lot deserves the Ismaili pedigree, with intoxicating aromatics and fragrance, potent spice, cardomom, husky chocolate flavors, fresh leather aroma, sage and lavender ... it smells like a walk through an outdoor marketplace.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.1
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / natural-earthy-spicey
add 50 50 Roast: City, full city. Roasts somewhat unevenly, and that's part of what gives it complexity in the cup. Let the darker beans enter 2nd crack, and the laggards will be at City stage. HotTop users - be aware of small bean size and the large amount of chaff produced during an Ismaili roast.
Score (Max. 100) 88.1 Compare to: Great Yemeni coffee...

Yemen Mokha - Bany Matar
Country: Yemen Grade: n/a Region: Bany Matar Mark:  
Processing: Natural dry-process Crop: January 2005 arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 14-16 Screen Varietal: Heirloom Yemeni Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4

Notes: While Ismaili/Hirazi coffees are the rarest of the Yemens, my palate responds better to a really good coffee from Bani Matar. (We call this coffee Matarri, and it is roughly the same name. Perhaps the distinctinion is that a Mattari can mean a "Matar-like" coffee, whereas this lot is truly grown in the geographic Bani Matar area.) These coffees have a restrained fruitiness that lingers under the spice notes, and that gives this cup an added dimension I enjoy . Bani Matar region is east of the capital of Sana, grown on terraces in the rugged mountain landscape, and processed in the coffee pod (dry-processed) in the most rustic of ways. These are some of the highest-grown coffees in the world (reported altitudes of 8000 feet with the Hirazi coffees -an impossibility in other parts of the world). This cup has a more rounded flavor profile than other Yemeni coffees, with great aromatics. In the midrange, and bass notes are incense & spices, ripe dark fruit (dried black currant), aromatic wood, new leather, and beeswax. This cup is loaded with natural flavors and each cup seems slightly different, but all are truly loaded with character. Espresso: roasted to a Full City + or light Vienna (10-25 seconds into 2nd crack -from the very first sound of 2nd crack) and rested for 2-3 days, this Mattari makes the most incredibly fruited straight espresso: super-aromatic, berryish, spiced, pungent... but it might be "over the top" for some palates as espresso.

The spelling? Well, I go strictly by chop marks (bag lot numbers) and bag stenclis. Normally this would be spelled Bani Mattar or Bani Mattar, or just call it Mattari. But the bags are Bany Matar so that's that. It is similar to the Raimi area coffees that were called Rimy by the exporter.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: Full City+. If you roast lighter, let it rest 2 days … in fact, a 2 day rest for any roast brings out a lot more body and balance in the cup. Then again, the aromas are so good that it is hard to wait that long! Note: Will be difficult to roast in the Alpenrost drum and produces a lot of chaff so you need to attend to your HotTop - don't let chaff build up and clean well between roasts!
add 50 50 Compare to: More like the Yemen Raimi, with some of the sharp notes and spice of the Ismaili, and a bit of dry fruit undertone.
Score (Max. 100) 87.6
Zambia 

see our 2003-3004 archive

Zimbabwe 

see our current Zimbabwe offering, or 2003-2004 Archive

Zimbabwe AAA+ Dandoni Estate
Country: Zimbabwe Grade: AAA+ Region: Chipinge Mark: Dandoni Farm, Ethridge Trading Co.
Processing: Wet processed Crop: Late Jan 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Typica "Blue Mountain", SL-28. Agaaro
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: The best estate Zimbabwe coffees are prized for their balance in the cup ...which might sound like it is mild, but that is not the case. Balanced coffees are a "complete cup." They have all the desirable qualities. A really good Zimbabwe has moderate acidity, rich flavors, good body and aftertaste. The problem is, there are many coffee lots sold as generic Zimbabwe which theoretically can be good but in reality are often not. (part of this is the difficulty with shipping coffee from this land-locked nation. Coffee steaming in 100 degree weather in a metal shipping container for 6 weeks while waiting for pickup is not good for cup quality!) So simply being a Zimbabwe coffee is by no means enough. That said, there are the uncertain political environment affecting agriculture and commerce now, and so good coffee from Zimbabwe is hard to come by. To be honest, I don't know much about the Dandoni Estate. This is from a green coffee broker who (like me) has had trouble finding a really good reliable source from a single Estate. But without the "provenance" I found the sample to have an exemplary Zimbabwe flavor profile - balanced, complex, with that East African "gamey" hint in the cup. It has a low-toned citric quality (not a biting grapefruit-like acidity), and rooty/spicey interjections that, for me, come off like sasparilla. I did my usual City, City+ and Full City roasts but I really found a cup with deep flavors reverberating throught it at the Full City + stage, with just a hint of 2nd crack. This cup is sweetly tarry, still has ripe citrus notes, and spicey suggestions - a very good balance between body and overall cup intensity at this level of roast.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City to Full City+: (wide range, depending on your taste). Note the above comments about FC+ roast level.
add 50 50 Compare to: Excellent complexity/depth and a unique origin flavors that shift greatly depending on roast... Very much an East African cup profile...
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / balance and unique E. African gamey flavors.

 

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