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Rwanda

Rwanda Kinunu Bourbon
Country: Rwanda Grade: AA Region: Kinunu, Western Rwanda Mark: Kinunu Coffee Mill
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Kinunu Washing Station is a wet-process mill in western Rwanda, and the coffee is 100% Bourbon varietal from a range of 1650-1900 meters. My favorite Rwanda lots in the past years have been from the west, and the fact that it is from such high altitude, and that is 100% traditional Bourbon culitivar ... well those are the perks of Rwanda coffee. The country was planted extensively in Bourbon and was not an active coffee-producer in the years when all the new hybrids were being pushed ... a blessing in disguise that they missed this trend. There was extra selection done to prepare this lot for export. This lot was specifically hand-prepared at a milling factory that has a UV cleaning (color sorting) and grading facility. UV also detects any potato-taste in coffee, a problem that can sometimes occur in Rwanda lots. This cup has great aromatics and cup flavor profile, but it is such a balanced cup that I am at a loss to describe it with much flourish. It's very "Bourbon-like," it's coffee-flavored coffee! It has that strong bittersweet aromatic of ... coffee. Okay, I can do a bit better than that. The ground dry coffee has a pronounced chocolate aromatic, with orange peel accent. This citrus subtext comes through strong in the wet aromatic too: it's very attractive! The cup has tangy bittersweetness, aromatic wood hints, clove spice notes, and that orange peel twist. The mouthfeel is not overly thick, but is enough to give the cup a well-rounded profile. I also managed (with my limited barista skill) to make a fantastic single origin espresso with an FC+ roast of the Kinunu Bourbon.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Classic balanced cup with citrus peel accents  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC+; this lot reponds well to many roast "interpretations"
Score (Max. 100) 87.9 Compare to: East African bittersweetness, chocolate, brightness. It's a bourbon coffee all the way.

Rwanda Butare Bourbon
Country: Rwanda Grade: AA Region: Southwestern: Butare - Gikongoro Mark: Bufcafe Cooperative
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: March 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Bufcafe is a cooperative washing station (a wet mill for coffee processing) in the region of Gikongoro and Butare. This area, in southwestern Rwanda adjacent to Burundi, has some of the best coffee farming areas, featuring old trees of the traditional Bourbon varietal. With a range of 1300 to 1600 meters, this lot of high grown Bourbon has a compact physical density that performs well in a variety of roast conditions, air roast or drum roast. The coffee is wet processed and dried immediately on raised beds in the African style, which promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying) because the air flows around the wet pergamino coffee from above and below. My short description of the cup is that of a classic Bourbon Rwanda flavor profile: lemon, bittersweet chocolate, cherry ... dark tones with a bittersweet edge, overlayed by citrus grace notes. But I find this cup especially intriguing in the way it displays a very classic cup quality: balance. True, the cup has sweet and sour Mandarin notes, and finishes with a good coffee-flavor bittersweetness. Coffee flavor? In coffee? Sometimes it is difficult to describe the pleasant bitterness of coffee in terms of other things (most often, bittersweet notes in chocolate). But sometimes the tangy bittersweets seem to refer to no other flavor but coffee itself. That's the case here, I feel. But there is more too, with a syrupy body and these lingering citrus hints. There's also a trace of that winey accent to the fruit, something you might find in a neighboring Kenya. In a slightly darker roast (FC, rather than C+) my mandarin citrus turned to a black currant fruit note: very nice! I get slight herbal and floral secondary flavors too, lurking in the background, slight rosemary highlights, and in the finish a twist of lemon peel. What a perfectly balanced cup, right on that precipice between bitter and sweet, alternating between the two just so fluidly.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 2.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Interesting balance - classic cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+
Score (Max. 100) 87 Compare to: East African brightness and bittersweets. To improve this coffee, part of the price premium we pay goes to this wet mill improvement project.

Rwanda FT Duhingekawa Women's Cooperative (Fair Trade)
Country: Rwanda Grade: A1 Region: Abakundakawa, Rushashi Washing Station Mark: Abakundakawa Cooperative, Women's subgroup Duhingekawa, Fair Trade.
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: March 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon Arabica BM 139
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Abakundakawa is a 1700 member cooperative that mills its coffee at the Rushashi washing station. The average altitude here is 1600 to 1800 meters for coffee production, the varietal is traditional Bourbon seedstock, and the typical wet process method is used, with sun-drying on raised beds or patio. This is fair trade certified, part of the USAID project in Rwanda to improve the quality of life ... but it is also a special micro-lot separated from the bulk production of the Abakundakawa coop. This is produced exclusively by a women's group, Duhingekawa, a 70 member sub-group of the coop, and we have paid a premium for this particular lot that is returned directly to the women producers. I made a separate Duhingekawa page with additional photos and information about this group, since it is a bit too much to put here. I cupped it against various A1 and A2 lots from other nearby coop lots, and found a very distinct, beautiful character in this coffee. The fragrance here has soft floral notes and (a theme throughout the cup) a sweet citrus note. The aroamtic is where the coffee comes to life; a bouquet of orange blossom, slightly winey. The cup fulfills the promise of the aromatics: jasmine and citrus flowers, sweetness, vivid aftertaste, and a remarkaby silky body (although not that heavy). This is still somewhat of a delicate cup, and really requires the right roast to reveal it's true character. My lighter City roasts were baked-tasting, under-developed. It was better with a few days rest, but it never had a very "complete" profile. The sweetness has a sweet brown malt flavor, caramelly, and lingers through the long aftertaste. This is not a powerhouse cup, but roasted and brewed correctly, it is remarkably attractive, with Yirgacheffe and Kenya hints.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet citric brightness  
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City: this coffee was under-developed in flavor at City roast, and loses sweetness if roasted into 2nd crack too much.
Score (Max. 100) 87.4 Compare to: East African brightness, mildly Kenya-like in cup character, excellent aftertaste

Saint Helena 

See the 2003 - 2004 Archive


El Salvador  

El Salvador - Yellow Bourbon Cultivar
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Santa Rita Mark: El Molino de Santa Rita
Processing: Wet-process Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yield, heirloom plant, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon (pronounced Bore-Bone), especially those from El Salvador, are neo-typical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolatey and have a creamy mouthfeel. Most of this cultivar have fruit that ripen to a red color, hence Red Bourbon, Orange Bourbon (rare), and then there is Yellow Bourbon too. Yellow Bourbon tends to be more fragile on the tree and in harvest, so in many areas (with Brazil as an exception) you do not see much Yellow Bourbon. We have special Yellow Bourbon from Guatemala (Finca Retana in Antigua) and then there is this lot of El Salvador. It is from a farm I visited last year called El Molino de Santa Rita. The cup has a toasty sweetness in the fragrance, and the wet aroma has clean fruited notes, with a touch of lemon in the lighter roasts. The cup flavors are bright and crisp at City to City+, and have honeydew melon hints at Full City roast. I like the complexity that emerges at FC roast where bittersweet notes mingle with refined, sweet fruit, and extend well into the aftertaste. Toasty sweetness is present from the start to finish in the aromatics and cup here. It has a great balance overall, making it a quintessential classic Central American flavor profile.
1
Yellow Bourbon harvested
at El Molinho de Santa Rita.
Photo by Aida Batlle.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Balance and toasty sweetness 1 
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC+, works well under a wide range of roasts. I liked the added complexity at FC roast.
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Classic Bourbon flavor profile, a great Central American type coffee.

El Salvador Las Ranas WP Decaf
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mark: Finca Las Ranas
Processing: Pulped Natural, then WP Decaf Crop: Nov 2007 Arrival Appearance: .5d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Las Ranas (it means The Toads!) is an old farm locted at 1,300 meters in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range, one of the best Strictly High Grown coffee production regions and in the heart of the primary biological corridor that extends through El Salvador. All of the coffee fields are Bourbon variety, worked with the traditional system of pruning, shade management, fertilization and other cultural practices. Coffee is de-pulped the same day it is harvested, naturally fermented at mountain temperatures, washed with pure spring water and sun dried on clay patios. This is currently one of my favorite decaf coffees, because of the amazing balance, anhow much it resembles a really good, non-decaf Salvador: balanced, mildly sweet, with chocolate notes, uniform, with a surprisingly nice, heavy body. (Perhaps this heavy body is due to the fact the coffee originates with a Pulped Natural lot, not a typical wet-processed coffee). There is a nutty quality (hazelnut) in the lighter roast stages, and apple hints in the cup too. Overall, this is a flavor profile that deserves the characterization "well-structured." And because of exceptional bean density it can be recommended for a wide range of roasts from City+ (my recommendation for a brighter, livelier cup with nut and apple hints) to Full City+ or Vienna, where bittersweet chocolate notes will predominate.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Balance and Body  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for me, but this has a wide range of roasts that work well - expect excellent bittersweets at FC+ or Vienna
Score (Max. 100) 85.2 Compare to: Classic Central character from a classic cultivar: Red Bourbon

El Salvador Cup of Excellence -Siberia
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Chalchuapa, Santa Ana Department Mark: 23rd Place, Cup of Excellence 2007 -Siberia Farm
Processing: Wet-process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 19+ Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Okay, I am going to repeat my shpeel on Bourbon coffees here: Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yeild, heirloom plant, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon coffees, especially those from El Salvador, are neotypical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolaty and have a creamy mouthfeel. In a competition like Cup of Excellence, these characteristics might seem mundane next to the exotic flavors of the Pacamara cultivar, but Bourbon should be appreciate for more than it's sturdiness, versatility (they make great espresso blend components), and the way they take a wide range of roasts. Each has unique accent notes too. This coffee is from one of the best, most prolific coffee areas in Santa Ana, grown at 1450 meters, 100% Bourbon, and has been as high as 6th place in previous Cup of Excellence competitions. This coffee was last place (23rd) in the auction ... Okay, by "last place" we mean that it was 23rd among over 500 small-farm lots entered in the competition, so basically it makes the top 5%. But forget the numbers, forget the 23 (sorry Michael Jordan), this is a GREAT Bourbon coffee, a classic for sure. I did a very light City roast and the cup was lemony, sweet, zingy. I did a City + roast that had creamy nut tones with ripe orange underneath. I did a FC, and FC+, a light Vienna, and with each the cup had great character, chocolate tonality becoming more intense and bittersweet as the roast darkened, but never becoming flat, ashy or carbony. So this year we bought the first place and the "last place" in the auction, and one just about in the middle (9th), and all are such solid and unique coffees in my book. I highly recommend this lot for espresso too, Single Origin Espresso if you can extend the roast, finish slowly, tone down some of the brightness a bit.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium intensity / Classic Bourbon balance, mouthfeel  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC to Vienna - highly versatile.. A slow FC++ roast is ideal for espresso
Score (Max. 100) 87.7 Compare to: Classic, balanced Bourbon coffee.

El Salvador Cup of Excellence -Bella Vista
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: La Palma, Chalatenango Department Mark: 9th Place, Cup of Excellence 2007 -Bella Vista Farm
Processing: Wet-process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 19+ Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yeild, heirloom plant, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon coffees, especially those from El Salvador, are neotypical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolaty and have a creamy mouthfeel. In a competition like Cup of Excellence, these characteristics might seem mundane next to the exotic flavors of the Pacamara cultivar, but Bourbon should be appreciate for more than it's sturdiness, versatility (they make great espresso blend components), and the way they take a wide range of roasts. Each has unique accent notes too. This lot was one of my favorite Bourbon lots in the competition. It is from the Chalatenango department, within the coffee region known as Alotepec-Metapán mountain range. Grown at 1450 meters, the farm is owned by Rafael Salguero Chacon, who was a coffee picker at another farm and took home some seeds to his mother's land to plant! The cup is outstanding; it has the bright sweetness, with hints of orange in the aromatics and cup flavors. Lighter roast (C+) has a string almond-to-hazelnut aroma in the dry grounds as well, becoming balanced chocolate at FC to FC+ roast. Fragrance and aroma light brown sugar sweetness, and in the wet aroma this orange peel zest really comes forward. The mouthfeel is dense, creamy, compact. It has such a nice zest in the brightness, as well as tangy, piquant dimension in the roast taste. When the cup cools, a floral flavor emerges, along with a slightly winey red apple note, and a spicy note in the finish. This coffee is very easy to roast and works well anywhere from City roast to FC+ and beyond.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balanced, dense mouthfeel  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna - see notes above
Score (Max. 100) 88 Compare to: Classic Bourbon coffee with orange and cinnamon highlights.

El Salvador -Orange Bourbon Cultivar
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Santa Rita Mark: El Molino de Santa Rita
Processing: Wet-process Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Orange Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Bourbon coffee is a classic cultivar, named for the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was originally cultivated. When we call it classic, we mean not just the fact that it is a lower-yeild, heirloom plant, and that it has a very dense seed that roasts well, but also the cup character. Bourbon (pronounced Bore-Bone), especially those from El Salvador, are neotypical Central American coffees. They are bright, aromatic, balanced, semisweet or bittersweet, chocolatey and have a creamy mouthfeel. Most of this cultivar have fruit that ripen to a red color, hence Red Bourbon, and there is some Yellow Bourbon too. This coffee is a spontaneous mutation that ripens to an orange color, hence the name Orange Bourbon. It is from a farm I visited last year called El Molino de Santa Rita, and when I heard of this orange coffee I had to go out and find it. Since I was flying out that day, this meant a very early morning for me, and despite bleary eyes, we found the trees in full ripeness and they were indeed very orange! More interesting is the cup, which is very balanced, with moderate acidity and excellent sweetness. At Full City roast there is an excellent bittersweet heft to this cup, dense and compact body, and an orangey sweetness (yes, what a coincidence!) This orange combines with a soft chocolate note for a very pleasing effect, and I am off now to fire ups some shots in the espresso machine to see how this great, balanced cup plays out in that arena.

Ripe Orange Bourbon coffee cherry, my first encounter with this type, from my trip in early '06
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Extremely balanced and sweet  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC+, works well under a wide range of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Classic Bourbon coffee with orange sweetness.

El Salvador Peaberry "Aida's Grand Reserve"
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Potrero Grande Arriba, Santa Ana Volcano, Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range Mnts. Mark: Aida's Grand Reserve
Processing: Blend of Processes Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Kenya, Bourbon, Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.2 Notes: There's some debate about what coffee is the most exclusive, rarest, most outstanding in the cup ... a debate I always find particularly elitist and boring. There is no single "excellent coffee" out there, it's not a peak you scale with one dramatic spire, and one perfect little cup of coffee waiting for you on top. If you market coffee packaged in a wine bottle, grown on a trellis, or scavenged from rodent excrement, it doesn't make it good or even rare. It's just a bunch of hoopla. Further, if you try to distinguish a set of truly excellent coffees, carefully processed, with dynamic cup character, you still end up with no single winner, since excellence in coffee means suiting the polymorphous aspects of the human senses. Luckily, great coffees are as diverse as our senses used to appreciate them. So given all my sidestepping and hesitations, if someone really turned the screws on me, and made me confess what coffee has the most time, care, passion invested in it, and reflects this in the cup, it would be Aida's Grand Reserve. Aida is Aida Batlle, who has several small farms of great distinction on the Santa Ana Volcano. (You can read about Aida in our Kilimanjaro review). Like no other small-lot coffee I have tasted (or even heard about), Aida's Grand Reserve is the product of careful propagation, harvesting, picking, processing, and blending. Yes, blending, just as a master vintner might blend from particular parts of an estate to achieve a special reserve, Aida has selected pickings from her 3 small farms, Finca Kilimanjaro, Los Alpes and Mauritania, cupped and blended them to form the Grand Reserve. This involves traditional wet processing, as well as a very difficult "raisin coffee" component, in which the coffee cherry is allowed to dry partly on the tree, until the red exterior darkens and wrinkles slightly. You get the feeling with this lot that every single little green bean was inspected under a microscope and chosen for this lot. (The burlap bags we received this in are double-layered, hand inked, with sewn-on batiked labeling!) This is the first time we have been able to offer this Aida's Grand Reserve, but if you google it you will see how little is available, and how glowing the reviews have been in the previous years. The cup has ton's of character; it's no lightweight Central. Dry fragrance has great intensity, dark semi-sweet chocolate, and lighter Dutch cocoa hints too. There's a fruited layer too, plumy, and darkly sweet. The wet aromatic has ample amounts of chocolate and raisin (Monukka Raisin). The cup has character you might find in a more brooding type of Kenya, a Kirinyaga-region coffee for example, with pungency, winey dark fruited notes, sweet dried fruit (again I think of the Monukka varietal raisin), dark ripe Bing cherry, and semi-sweet chocolate. As I said before, this is a heavyweight cup for a Central, with brooding deep body, and long, long aftertaste marked by pungent spice tones and black pepper. While the long aftertaste has this pungency, as it cools the cup leaves a very "juicy" last impression. It's fantastic stuff. So I'll just cave in completely: here we have the rarest, most exotic, and most excellent coffee since man put coffee bean to fire and soaked in water! Okay, seriously, this is one of the most intense and complex Centrals I have ever experienced. Roast it as gifts, keep it for yourself, it's amazing stuff. It's very spendy stuff, but for a good reason.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Kenya-like intensity, winey fruit, plum, raisin ... LIMIT 2 LBS PER CUSTOMER ... SORRY!
add 50 50 Roast: I found the coffee does exceptionally well under a wide range of roasts: C+ to FC+: all levels have good pungency and chocolate, so I would tend toward C+/FC with no second crack at all.
Score (Max. 100) 92.7 Compare to: Intense, supremely complex, difficult to compare to any other Central.

El Salvador - Finca Kilimanjaro
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Potrero Grande Arriba, Santa Ana Volcano, Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range Mnts. Mark: Finca Kilimanjaro
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: Nov 2007Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon and Kenyan (95%), 5% Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.9 Notes: This coffee was the 1st place winner in the first Cup of Excellence held in El Salvador, 2003. Kilimanjaro farm is located on the highlands of the Santa Ana Volcano or Ilamatepec, 40 minutes away from the city of Santa Ana. The Batlle family purchased the farm in 1983, and are the third generation of a coffee family. Aida Batlle (the daughter) takes care of this coffee plantation which is nearly 40 years old, and located in one of the oldest coffee-growing areas in the country. She is a "hands-on" coffee grower, seen daily at the farm and monitoring all the aspects of the harvest. To win the 1st place award, they incentivised the workers with salaries double the usual rates, but also demanded very high standards in picking and processing. The neat thing about Aida is, after winning, she has decided to take the small production from this 30 hectare farm and distribute it evenly among 6 really fine buyers (Sweet Maria's, Stumptown, Intelligentsia ...) . We each get just 5 bags, that's the rule. And we all pay a healthy price for the coffee to support the farms improvement. It's win-win for everyone. And this coffee is worth the effort - it's a fantastic, dynamic Central American coffee. The farm is on the Santa Ana volcanic slopes, and is planted with 95% Bourbon and Kenyan cultivars, with the remaining trees being Pacas. Altitude is 1450 meters (4750 feet) and there are diverse shade trees on the farm including Pepeto Peludo, Copalchí, Cypress, Avocado and Peach. When I cup this coffee, the dynamic brightness, lively, tingly, can only be compared to fresh crushed mint leaves. It's not the best description in terms of flavor, but it is perfect in terms of effect. There is jasmine flower, peppermint, a crisp brightness, with fresh raspberry fruits, meyer lemon, and black tea. The body is medium, and paris well with a light malt roast taste at City+ roast. The finish has fresh tea with lemon and mint. The volatile aromas on the cup are just fantastic. It is the best of what really high grown, traditional cultivar Central coffees can be - it's what many other coffees wish they could be. After you cup a lot of Centrals, you key in on the qualities that this cup has in abundance and amplitude. And Aida's Kilimanjaro coffee shows that diligence, faith and investment in a farm can really pay off. My warning is to buy it soon; this is a very small lot, and to allow many to try this exemplary coffee, we impose a 2 Lb limit. per person. Maybe, just maybe, we can get more next year.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Bright, dynamic cup.  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City: takes a wide range of roasts. If the lighter roasts are too bright for you, try a couple snaps into 2nd crack. It will still have a bright tone to the cup.
Score (Max. 100) 89.4 Compare to: One of the nicest, classic, bright Central American coffees I have cupped - it sparkles! LIMIT 2 LBS PER CUSTOMER ... SORRY!

El Salvador SHB Pulp Natural -San Emilio
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: North Region: Ahuachapan-Santa Ana Mark: San Emilio Farm
Processing: Pulp natural process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This is a new farm source for us, from the far north near the Guatemala border. It is a 100% traditional Bourbon cultivar, but in this case the coffee is not the wet-processed/fermented/patio-dried type. This is a pulp natural coffee where the mucilage is mechanically removed (not totally) and then the parchment coffee is allowed to sun dry on raised screens. The results of this method are increased body, balance, lower acidity, and flavor notes in the cup that range from rustic chocolate to fruited tones. This Pulp Natural method also allow for distinct changes based on the technique used, and how much fruity mucilage is allowed to remain on the parchment-coated green bean. So all pulp natural lots are not the same. For example, our Costa Rica Vino de Arabia is not so rustic and fruity, a "cleaner" cup profile.) With the San Emilio we have a vivid example of balance, body and nuance that is possible with PN coffees, a flavor profile supported by the "structure" lent to this cup by the Bourbon varietal. The dry fragrance at City+ roast is very nutty (dry roasted almond), milk chocolate sweet, and buttery. Take it a bit darker and the chocolate turns bittersweet. Wet aroma a have rustic-but-soft chocolate, and a suggestion of red wine. The cup flavors are consistent with the aroma - nut-to-chocolate roast tones in abundance, dense body, and fruited notes lurking close behind. It's almond and chocoalte initially, but (at C+ to FC roast) the fruits, peach and red apple, brighten up as the cup cools down. My FC+ and Vienna roasts have great espresso potential, so we're headed over to the espresso machine next with those samples right now!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Dense body, nut-to-chocolate roast tones and fruited subtexts  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is ideal, but I enjoyed roasts on both sides of that: C has bright fruit as the cup cools, while FC+ has tangy chocolate.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Pulp natural cup profile with good brightness-body balance. Not your typical wet-process Central - lower acidity, more body.

El Salvador PN Las Ranas WP Decaf
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mark: Finca Las Ranas
Processing: Pulped Natural, then WP Decaf Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .5d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Las Ranas (it means The Toads!) is an old farm locted at 1,300 meters in the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range, one of the best Strictly High Grown coffee production regions and in the heart of the primary biological corridor that extends through El Salvador. All of the coffee fields are Bourbon variety, worked with the traditional system of pruning, shade management, fertilization and other cultural practices. Coffee is de-pulped, removing the skin but leaving a fruity pulp layer on the parchment shell. Then it is sun dried on clay patios, so the fruit dries on the parchment, until all is removed in one step. This is called a Pulped Natural process, (A new acronym! PN) and it enhances the body in the coffee, and perhaps moderates the acidity a tad. This is currently one of my favorite decaf coffees, because of the amazing balance, and how much it resembles a really good, non-decaf Salvador: balanced, mildly sweet, with chocolate notes, uniform, with a surprisingly nice, heavy body. (Again, I think this heavy body is due to the fact the coffee originates with a Pulped Natural lot, not a typical wet-processed coffee). There is a nutty quality (hazelnut) in the lighter roast stages, and apple hints in the cup too. Overall, this is a flavor profile that deserves the characterization "well-structured." And because of exceptional bean density it can be recommended for a wide range of roasts from City+ (my recommendation for a brighter, livelier cup with nut and apple hints) to Full City+ or Vienna, where bittersweet chocolate notes will predominate.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Balance and Body  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for me, but this has a wide range of roasts that work well - expect excellent bittersweets at FC+ or Vienna
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: Classic Central character from a classic cultivar: Red Bourbon


Sulawesi 

Sulawesi Toarco Jaya Wet-Process
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: Sulawesi Toraja Mark: Toarco Jaya Plantation
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Now, I have had bad luck with fully wet-processed Indonesian coffees from Sumatra before; they simply have no character. My assumption (well-founded) is that so much of the character of the more rustic Indonesian coffees (Sulawesi, Sumatra) comes from the preparation, the way the coffee has been picked, dried, and prepared for market, that when you change the work or cultural practices related to coffee you ruin the expected cup character. I was right, until I looked into the Toarco private farm's wet-process samples. Toarco is located in Tana Toraja and ranges from 900 -1250 meters. It is milled to the highest standards, including hand- sorting after the optical machine sorting to remove any defect beans. There's no other coffee in Sulawesi processed to these high standards. It's a large farm at 530 hectares, but 300 is planted in coffee while the rest is preserved as native forest. The coffee is grown under a shade-tree canopy. Toarco farm also purchases coffee from surrounding smallholder farms, and provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry. All the cherry is processed at the Toarco wet mill the same day it comes in from the field, using traditional wet-process methods you would find in Central America or other areas with a washed coffee tradition. But, as I said before, this is clearly a Sulawesi in the cup ... but like none I have ever had. The fragrance has floral aspects, and a lively, dynamic brightness I have never experienced in a Sulawesi. And yet in the wet aromatics you have distinct foresty, almost-earthy tones, along with tropical fruits like mango paired with apricot (in the light C+ roast). It is amazing how much aroma this has when you cup it next to a traditional dry-process Sulawesi Toraja. The cup is not musty, not dirty, but by no means "cleaned up" beyong recognition: this has Sulawesi origin character. Cup flavor are fruited and floral, with a foresty, piney aspects. As the cup cooled, a very intereting nutty aspect comes up, paired with a waxy-nutty mouthfeel - very nice. While there is a sweetness to the fruit, the City+ roast of the coffee strikes a more bittersweet roast taste, and that follows through in the finish. I am amazed at the floral tones of the C+ roast, but liek the milk chocolate of the FC+ roast too.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Floral and fruited aspects with a foresty twist  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Score (Max. 100) 87.3 Compare to: Island coffee : Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character.

Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla"
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: Mt. Alla, Enrekang Mark: Enrekang
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This is a regional lot from South Sulawesi, from the area called Enrekang, grown on the slopes of Mount Alla. As happens often in Indonesia, the people of the region are also the Enrekang (or Endekan), and live a very traditional agricultural lifestyle. They also happen to have coffee from especially high altitude, and a separate coffee mill serving just this area. So for the first time this is a separate and distinct lot from this one processing station, rather than having it blended with other lower grown coffees. It is also a traditional "semi-washed" Indonesia process lot, meaning that it has the earth tones, rustic chocolate notes, low acidity and dense body that is anticipated in Sulawesi coffees (and has been missing in the clean, bright lots of recent years). I appreciate both styles of Sulawesi, but those who look for something closer to Sumatras will enjoy this Sulawesi Enrekang. The dry fragrance has plenty of earthy chocolate, but also a black pepper note, and a dark caramel sweetness. The cup is dense/thick, chocolatey, low in acidity, and at first it seems a bit mild in the aftertaste. As it cools it "opens up" more, and the body seems opaque and syrupy in texture. It's a good deep-toned cup, without musty off notes. While having earth/humus aspects, it's also clean (if that can be, without contradiction). On the one hand, there is dirty, earthiness and on the other there is the smell of fresh dark earth, forest floor aromas, as we have said before. If the distinction is difficult to imagine, this cup of coffee can help!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Chocolate, spice, earth and foresty notes  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Low acidity, syrupy body, earth and chocolate … smells like Indonesia to me!

Sulawesi Grade One Toraja
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: Sulawesi Toraja, Torajaland (formerly Kalossi) Mark:
N/A
Processing: Dry-processed Crop: March 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: The coffee formerly known as Celebes Kalossi ...but let's not call it that anymore. Kalossi was the colonial Dutch name for the Toraja region, an incredible mystical, densely -forested region with weird giant bats hanging from trees, and ancestral homes shaped like ships (don't be impressed ...I watch the Discovery channel). The deep, rich body and flavor of our Toraja rivals the best Sumatran coffees. The deep-toned flavors and maple-syrupy body sets it apart, and results in a stunning, clearer taste profile (but less sheer power and earthiness) that a Dry-Processed Mandheling. My choice for Moka-Java Blends, with 50% Yemeni and 50% Sulawesi, or 50% Sulawesi and 50% Ethiopian Dry Process (Sidamo or Harar). This coffee is the highest grade of preparation I have seen from a Grade One Sulawesi. It is basically without chaff! So the added perk is that you will have very little chaff come off the coffee during the roast process. Sulawesi makes a great single-origin espresso too ... it has such a solid balance and baritone-weighted flavor profile that, roasted to a light Vienna, makes for a great Indonesian espresso. The supply of Sulawesi is tight this year and prices are up. Unfortunately, quality is more scarce too. Early in the Sulawesi crop, I cupped some of the worst samples I have ever had the misfortune of tasting. I thought maybe this year would be a total bust. But along came a new offering from a different source, and I was saved from explaining over and over why we don't have Sulawesi this year. And we are back to where we were a few years ago in terms of cup character. This is a traditional Dry Process lot as defined in Indonesia as something between a Brazil-type dry process and a pulped coffee. It is not dried in the skin, but is dried with all the fruit on the parchment layer of the coffee, giving the same effect as a intact dried coffee cherry process. Last year's Sulawesi was excellent, but different. It was bright (out of character for this region), sweet and clean. These are not the things the real Sulawesi entusiast is looking for, and while great cup qualities, they are found elsewhere. Here we have a low-acid, deep, intense Sulawesi. This is a rustic cup, and in a way it needs a FC+ roast to tame it a bit. There are subtle notes of roasted macademia nut, and fruit, but it is pungent, foresty, earthy, bold. At this FC+ roast stage, the coffee has a dark chocolate roast taste with nut hints, and outstanding body. There's a strong tobacco note, which folds nicely into the pungent roast flavors of a Full City + roast. There's a mossy, foresty aspect here, wet earth, humus, a walk in the woods. Sounds corny but it is true! But all in all, this is more of a dry process, classic, Sumatra-type cup than we have had in recent years, and Sulawesi fans everywhere should be pleased about that!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Deep body, rustic and foresty cup flavors.  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee needs a heavy roast treatment.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: A rustic, natural, dry-process Indonesian cup profile. Fans of natural dry process coffees love it, fans of the clean cup will find disagreeable wet-earth/mossy hints.

Sumatra 

Sumatra Blue Batak "Tarbarita" Peaberry
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 (see review) Region: Tonggi, Lake Toba Mark: Blue Batak Tarbarita
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 15 Peaberry screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Batak coffees are a bit unusual because they are higher grown than most "Mandheling" coffees, so they have a brightness in the cup. This coffee is produced in the town of Tonggi, in the Lake Toba region (interestingly, one of the deepest lakes in the world). Batak peoples are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area, as are the Mandailing people, so the designation is a bit iffy. This coffee is a smaller peaberry preparation that is sorted out and sold at a higher price, a much higher price, than the flat bean coffee harvested at the same time. It often takes longer to assemble the peaberry lots because the cultivar used produces less peaberry than others. You don't see a lot of Sumatra peaberry offered, and I think this is a first time for Sweet Maria's to have one, at least in what I can recall of the last 8 years! My warning: the coffee, in green form, is sorta ugly. Considering the premuim we paid to the farmers for this coffee, it is not much to look at. It has some flat beans, and a some off-color seeds. It's not that beautiful; peaberry you see from Central American origins. But I don't "eye cup" the coffee - I judge it by the flavor, and by how it roasts. The Blue Batak Peaberry roasts evenly, and causes no problems in the Hottop perforated drum nor the air roasters. And the reason, the sole reason, we snapped up the entire lot of this ugly little green bean is the cup. The cup is awesome. It is sweet from start to finish, a rustic, raw brown sugar in the fragrance, the wet aroma, the cup and the aftertaste. The wet aroma has a red wine aspect, with cardomom and cinnamon spice. The cup has a brightness to it that is rare in Sumatra, and a fine sweetness too, good body, and less musky than most Sumatra coffees with the sweetness of chicory root. The mouthfeel is syrupy in character, not super thick, but syrupy. It finishes with a zesty clove note. And it can take a wide range of roasts, though the most attractive cup was definitely at City+. (There was some loss of sweetness and brightness at Full City+ roast level, but the pungent cup qualities at heavier roasts were also very nice).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Sweet, plumy, complex Sumatra  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal, or FC+ for more chocolate roast taste. Expect some unevenness in roast color, and some odd shaped seeds, odd-colored seeds.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Sweet, plumy, complex Sumatra: Not a beauty contest winner in the green form, but a winner in the cup!

Aged Sumatra Grade One Lintong
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 Region: Lintong Mark: Aged '05 Crop
Processing: Semi-Wet-Processed, then Aged Crop: Nov 2007 Arrival, 2005 Crop coffee Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica, Catimor
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Here's something just a little edgy: 2005 crop coffee that has been carefully aged at origin for nearly 3 years, resulting in a unique cup character. Aged coffee is not the same as old coffee. Aging is an intentional process, performed in the climate where coffee is produced, and involving some risks: the entire lot good result in plain-old bad coffee at the end of the term. The coffee also has to be maintained, rotated to provide air movement, and re-bagged. Still, even a "good" aged coffee is just wrong - in every classical sense it is a defective coffee. You will find many of the flavor attributes I use here on the "defect" side of the SCAA Coffee Flavor Wheel, especially terms that indicate the physical breakdown of the bean, like woody. But these can be good flavors too, in wine and in other spirits. And there is a romance to aged coffee: if you bought Java or Celebes (now Sulawesi) or Sumatra in the age of the sail ship, this is how your coffee arrived in the US or Northern Europe. There isn't a lot of aged coffee out there, and it tends to be bad. It's always a risk to age coffee, because it's a gamble if it will "age well" or just get old and baggy tasting (baggy is the off defect where coffee starts to taste more like the jute bag it ships in than a good coffee!) I dare say that the light roasts of this coffee are actually more potent than the dark roasts, however I recommend Full City+ here for the intense complexity of the cup. The dry fragrance has strong chocolate, laced with pipe tobacco and a cocoa biscuit sweetness. Add the hot water and the chocolate becomes intense and bittersweet, matched by pungent spice (pepper, clove). There's such a great, ink-black sweetness in this cup, with overtones of dark toffee and black licorice. The tobacco notes are still there, adding to the overall "noir" character of this cup. There's a lingering dark caramelized sugar, butterscotch flavor, with spiced rum tones to it. If you have had bad experiences before with an aged coffee, but you like classic, rustic Sumatras, you might want to give this Aged Lintong a go. It's not as smokey, or woody as other Aged Sumatras, even the nice Mandheling lots we have had in the past.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Low acidity, woody, smokey, tobacco notes  
add 50 50 Roast: I tested this from City to Full City to Vienna and I had good results across the board (rare for an aged coffee). I preferred FC (no 2nd crack) but I think many people will like the bittersweet tone of the FC+/light Vienna roast.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: A versatile aged coffee that still has a great rustic sweetness. If you like a good Mandheling, you should like the brooding nature of this cup.

Sumatra Tapanuli WP Decaf
Island: Sumatra Grade: One Region: South Tapanuli District Mark: Tapanuli Mandheling
Processing: Semi-Dry-processed, Water Process Decaf Crop: November 2007 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 to 18scr Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: This is another coffee that originated with an excellent Sumatra lot brought into the U.S., and then was sent to new water-process decaffeinator in Mexico. Like The Sulawesi WP Decaf, the results are impressive; not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sumatra in this respect), but as it cools. It has great espresso use to create low-caf or decaf blends with body and depth. I like it as a straight decaf espresso too when roasted about 20 seconds into 2nd crack. It is very much a Sumatra cup profile but a bit cleaner and less earthy than its non-decaf Mandheling counterpart. It has all the body expected in a Sumatra cup, interesting aromatic wood notes, and suggestions of earthy/humus; all this makes for a bass-heavy balance in the cup, as well as the very low level of acidity.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.1
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2 Roast: Sumatra has a wide latitude of roasts, from City through French. Very light roasts can taste a bit "baked" and under-developed, but a solid City to Full City will highlight the fruitiness and earthy origin flavors, darker will underscore roast pungency.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Compare to: It cups a bit "cleaner" (less earthy) than the non-decaf Sumatra, but is still very much a Sumatra at heart.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 84.9 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Low acid, earthy

Aged Sumatra Mandheling - '04 Crop
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 Region: "Mandheling" Mark: Aged  
Processing: Semi-Wet-Processed, then Aged Crop: May 2007 Arrival, 2004 Crop coffee Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.5 Notes: Here's something dangerous; 2004 crop coffee that has been carefully aged at origin for 3 years, resulting in a unique cup character. Aged coffee is not the same as old coffee. Aging is an intentional process, performed in the climate where coffee is produced, and involving some risks: the entire lot good result in plain-old bad coffee at the end of the term. The coffee also has to be maintained, rotated to provide air movement, and re-bagged. Still, even a "good" aged coffee is just wrong - in every classical sense it is a defective coffee. You will find many of the flavor attributes I use here on the "defect" side of the SCAA Coffee Flavor Wheel, especially terms that indicate the physical breakdown of the bean, like woody. But these can be good flavors too, in wine and in other spirits. And there is a romance to aged coffee: if you bought Java or Celebes (now Sulawesi) or Sumatra in the age of the sail ship, this is how your coffee arrived in the US or Northern Europe. There isn't a lot of aged coffee out there, and it tends to be bad; I test and reject a few lots a year, and perhaps find something nice only after a long drought period. That is the case here. This lot of aged Mandheling is unique in its versatility: it accepts a wide range of roasts and remains sweetly pungent and intense. Usually, aged Indonesians need FC+ to Vienna roast to avoid some marginal cup flavors; dirty, dusty hay-like notes. Here I found a natural sweetness layered beneath an aggressive "bitter chocolate, smoked wood and pipe tobacco" primary flavor at roasts from City to Full City to Vienna. Still, I prefer the darker roasts, but it's nice to know you are not forced into a particular roast level to avoid some nasty flavor attribute. The dry aromatics are shocking; a rubbery and mulchy smell that made me wonder about what was to come! (There was bitter chocolate mixed in there too). But the ensuing wet aromatics become pleasantly pungent. Notice how in brewing the grounds form a crust with larger bubbles than other coffees. You will see this with Monsooned coffees as well, and it indicates some degree of compromise in the structure of the green bean during the aging process. Anyway, this type of cup is a shocker on the first sip, and I usually take time to acclimate my palate before I start scoring. At first there is a burst of hickory, peat moss, and then comes that smokey sweetness. Somehow I think of barbaque! FC++ and Vienna roasts have this excellent tarry quality, and when taken with the heavy body, extremely low acidity and bass note intensity of the flavors, this overall profile deserves the term "brooding" - this is and inky coffee of great contrast to most everything else, it is stark, it is "Noir." But it is also not for everyone. If you like the most rustic Sumatras, natural dry-process Brazils and Sidamos ... if you like coffees others call "on the edge", try a little Aged Sumatra. It's nice to have around, but for me, it's an occasional coffee, not a "daily drinker."
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Low acidity, woody, smokey, tobacco notes  
add 50 50 Roast: I tested this from City to Full City to Vienna and I had good results across the board (rare for an aged coffee). I preferred FC (no 2nd crack) but I think many people will like the bittersweet tone of the FC++/light Vienna roast.
Score (Max. 100) 84.4 Compare to: A versatile aged coffee that still has a rustic sweetness to it. Technically, I can't score this coffee high, so please read the description to understand the full story behind this nice aged lot.

Sumatra Classic Mandheling
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: Sumatra, Lake Toba area Mark: None
Processing: Dry-processed (semi-washed) Crop: July 2007 arrival Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Finding a really good Grade One Mandheling is tough, at the same time that there is an abundance of this coffee at every coffee warehouse, and on every broker's list. It's easy for anyone to get a bag of skunky old Mandheling. The problem arises when you want really good Mandheling. Buy too early in the crop cycle and you will get a melange of early new crop (not good ...low grown) and past crop coffee (even worse). You have to look a t a lot ... a LOT... of samples, and cup them hard, to find a lot that is true to the classic Mandheling cup. Then again, you need to know what that cup is supposed to be! 15 years ago I remember roasting Mandhelings that really had the classic cup character that defined the origin ...back when Specialty coffee was itself being defined in the U.S. . First off, it actually looks like a Grade One, and when I screen it in my lab and count the defects, it actually grades as one. It has 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, a caramel roast taste that has a creamy, chocolate dimension to it as well. The finish goes toward the bittersweet, with a pungent quality emerging, reminding you of the deep, heavyhanded cup character that epitomizes Sumatra. It has a bit of all the defining Sumatra flavors wrapped together in one coffee, and maintains a balance between them. Most people might taste this and just say, "Boy, that's nice Sumatra". That's fine, that's perfect in fact. Sumatra really doesn't have to draw that much attention to itself. I really enjoy the depth and balance of this cup, qualities that I haven't enjoyed this much in a Grade One Mandheling for while.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0

Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild, clean, refined cup ... NOT! Mandheling is low acid, but intense, pungent, and mildly earthy.

 

Add 50 50 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).
Score (Max. 100) 86.2 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, deep flavors, earthy hints

Sumatra 19+ TP - Lake Tawar
Country: Sumatra Grade: Grade 1, Triple-Picked Region: Northern Highlands of Medan  Mark: Volkopi Lake Tawar
Processing: 100% Sun-dried, Semi-washed process Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Lake Tawar is in the North-central highlands of Medan-Aceh. The main town of Takengon is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Tawar, and it is a great base camp for exploring the greater Gayo region. The lot is a special selection of the largest screen size seeds (19/64ths and greater) and is Triple hand-picked after drying to remove defects. As you know, larger bean size does not mean a better cup, but in the case of Sumatra, where coffee is so mishandled and poorly sorted, this does ensure that small broken bits, or infirmed beans do not make it into the final sort. And more important than the appearance of the green coffee is, of course, the cup quality. The Lake Tawar has less mustiness than the Grade 1 Mandheling, but I wouldn't call this a "cleaned up" cup profile. It is potent, bittersweet, herbal, and intense. If you think a triple pick coffee, a carefully prepared Sumatra, necessarily loses it's Sumatra intensity, then this Lake Tawar lot will disprove that notion. It did for me. This is a pungent, brooding, opaque, full-bore Sumatra. It has bitter chocolate roast tones, with accents of sage and thyme. I wouldn't call it earthy or mossy (a flavor I do not like in Sumatras), but there is something intensely foresty about this cup; cedar, pine bark, somewhat resinous. And there is a hidden sweetness here, almost like that dark herbal sweetness of Ricola. Allow the coffee to rest after roasting for minimum 24 hours to enjoy the body in this coffee.  
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Darkly fruited cup , herbal, bittersweet  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: More bittersweet and foresty than the Iskandar, but in the same top tier of quality.

Sumatra FTO Gayo Tanah Tinggi
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 Region: Gayo Highlands, Aceh Province Mark: PPKGO Coop, Tanah Tingii mark
Processing: Dry-processed (actually, semi-dry) Crop: Late March 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1.6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Bergendal, Sidikalang , Sumatra Typica, Caturra, Catimor
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This coffee is basically branded Tanah Tinggi, but more important is that it hails from a large cooperative of small growers in the Gayo Highlands. PPKGO is the acronym, which stands for Persatuan Petani Kopi Gayo Organik ( or the Gayo Organic Coffee Farmer's Association). This is the traditional Dry-Process Sumtatra, which I have always abbreviated as DP. In fact, these Sumtras are processed in a way unique in the world of coffee which is a "semi-dry-process". In true Natural Dry-Process, the whole unpulped (unpeeled) coffee cherry is laid on a patio to dry in the sun, then the skin, mucilage, parchment layer and silverskin are torn from the green seed in one step. To remove immature seeds, all the coffee is carefully sorted with eye and hand. In a Sumatra process, the coffee is pulped out of the skin on the farm, but the mucilage, parchment and silverskin remain on the green seed. It is then dried a bit, and transfered to a central mill where it is dried some more. Then the dried mucilage and parchment layer are removed and the hand preparation/sorting begins. With either method, the coffee seed stays in contact with the fruity mucilage layer longer and this imparts natural flavors to the coffee. Now on to the cup character: The cup is Sumatra all the way; extremely low acidity, syrupy body, earthy note, mild fruitiness. The fragrance has a suggestion of papaya with malty sweetness. The wet aromatics are sweetly herbal, and when I break the crust on the cup there is a spicy note with earthy tones. The cup combines bits of all these aromatic aspects, along with low acidity, thick body, and milk chocolate roast notes. It is very Sumatra in character without being musty, moldy, or dirty. Maybe 8 years ago we all thought we had to suffer to enjoy Sumatra coffees, but it certainly has not been true - here is a funky, rustic coffee that doesn't smell or taste like wet cardboard or a waterlogged basement!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Thick body, very low acidity
add 50 50 Roast: I like the City+ to Full City+ - this coffee has deep, dark character that some associate with dark roasting, but at lighter roast levels. Don't keep it too light though (City-) because it can taste sourish.
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: Good, earthy (but not dirty!) natural Sumatra coffees.

Sumatra Mandheling - "Blue Batak"
Country: Sumatra Grade: Grade One Region: Tonggi, Lake Toba Mark: Blue Batak
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 16-18 screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Batak coffees are a bit unusual because they are higher grown than most "Mandheling" coffees, so they have a brightness in the cup. This coffee is produced in the town of Tonggi, in the Lake Toba region (interestingly, one of the deepest lakes in the world). Batak peoples are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area, as are the Mandailing people, so the designation is a bit iffy. You don't see a lot of Sumatra Blue Batak offered, a coffee we previosly had in peaberry form. The cup is awesome. It is sweet from start to finish, a rustic, raw brown sugar in the fragrance, the wet aroma, the cup and the aftertaste. The wet aroma has a distinct red wine aspect, with cardamom and cinnamon spice. The cup has a brightness to it that is rare in Sumatra, and a fine sweetness too, good body, and less musky than most Sumatra coffees. (It does have some positive wet earth flavors in the back end of the cup). The mouthfeel is syrupy in character, not super thick, but syrupy. It finishes with a zesty clove note. And it can take a wide range of roasts, though the most attractive cup was definitely at City+. (There was some loss of sweetness and brightness at Full City+ roast level, but the pungent cup qualities at heavier roasts were also very nice).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Sweet, plumy, complex Sumatra  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is ideal, or FC+ for more chocolate roast taste. Expect some unevenness in roast color.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Sweet, plumy, complex Sumatra: Not a beauty contest winner in the green form, but a winner in the cup!
 

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