A unique Indian coffee, sweet and herbaceous throughout, aroma of basil and licorice, caramel and barley malt sweetness, finishing with Assam tea and pipe tobacco. City+ to Full City.
Karnataka is a state in India, and the name of the group who sourced this coffee for us. They work with a fairly large group of plantation farmers throughout different counties within Karnataka, and this lot represents mostly coffees from the city of Chikmagalur. Chickmagalur sits at the foothills of Mullayanagiri range, probably the most famous coffee region in India. The Karnataka folks used to just buy from one growing group, but have since cast a much wider net, where some of the value is in their ability to increase selection, and putting together from this more premium blends. This is a peaberry selection ("PB"), so around 15 screen bean size, and gets a second sort during milling. About 70% of the coffee grown in the region is of the old Kent 975 arabica varietal, and all the coffee is shade grown out of necessity, for reprieve from the oppressive Summer temperatures. I found the peaberries to be dense, and able to take quite a bit of heat. Roasting to a few different levels, we found that City+ and Full City roasts offer the most complexity and balance, and what our review below are based on.
Aromatically, this coffee has impressive raw sugar sweetness, the fragrance and aroma showing alluring pungent burned sugar and spice smells, as well as a fruited pipe tobacco note. There's an herbaceous quality too that seems to shadow the profile all the way through, offering up elements of sweet basil and a licorice accent in the nose. As brewed coffee the sweetness is a mix of unrefined sugar and barley malt sweetness. There's a buttery caramel flavor note too, that fades to Assam tea, and greenish sweet herbal notes in the finish. City+ roasts cool nicely, base bittersweetness is well balanced, and a subtle tea-like acidic impression provides backbone. No doubt a unique cup from an area less represented on our coffee list.