Roast Pairing #3: Fruity or Fruited?
In some coffee taster's lexicon, "fruity" means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and "fruited" means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there's a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing). Here we have an example of the wet-hulled Flores, and the dry-processed Bonko Black Sun of Ethiopia. Now obviously, since these are coffees we offer here at Sweet Maria's, we have decided these are both POSITIVE fruit-laden coffees. We want to compare the nature of the fruits in these, and how they come out against the backdrop of other flavors, which are very different in these two lots. To preserve the maximum fruit in the cup, these were both roasted to City+ (medium) ... the Flores to 430f and the Bonko to a mere 423f. The fruit of the Flores appears in a low acid context, and the roast flavor from the lighter roast is more "nut and mild caramel" than the chocolate bittersweets that would emerge if we took it to 440f or so. It's a slightly pulpy fruit, not so aromatic, a little flat (is that the expression of the low acidity though? I think so). The Ethiopia Bonko Black Sun has a more sweet, jammy fruited aromatic. Still, this more articulate and higher toned fruit (against a more acidic backdrop) is on the rustic end ... this is a ripe fruitiness. It's a bit winey too, but vinegary wine? No! Of these two, I would say the Flores Manggarai is more edgy, more fruity rather than fruited, to use other peoples language. Both of these fruity coffees derive from processing, but not mis-processing. And both do not fall into the category of fermenty, vinegar or sour rotten fruit. Believe me, I have cupped a lot of those, and am happy to spare you the pain. (But... our next "Thumbs Down" selection will be a fermenty Ethiopia Dry-Process coffee, so if you want to experience a coffee that has "crossed the line", check back in a month or so.)