Ismaili is a "fabled" origin. Even in Yemen, in a local market in Sana'a, the spice-tea-qishr-coffee vendor told me his green beans (much of it broken triage coffee, mixed with cardomom pods) was truly special. "It's Ismaili coffee, " he said. I didn't mention that I slept on the floor of a villagers house the night before, in the mind-boggling vertical mountains of Ismaili, a landscape etched in stone with ancient terraces lined with ghat and coffee trees. The fact is, Ismaili has been very disappointing for the last 2 years, and when it was indeed available (and was truly Ismaili at all) it had a flat jute-bag flavor to it, and little else. So when I smelled the arrival sample of this lot, the lightest of 5 roasts I did, and I had that dry-earth smell of plant roots, I wasn't to excited. But as soon as I added water the whole character of the cup changed, and (while perhaps a bit milder than Ismaili lots of 5 years ago) I felt I was experiencing the balanced spicy, herbal and rustic tones of real Ismaili. The wet aromatics have clove and allspice with a bit of ginger, while the darker roast (FC+) is very pungent and intense, with suggestions of sarsparilla and anise. Later there are some interesting sweet notes that come out, traces of butterscotch (C+) and syrupy plum wine (FC+). Ismaili are not fruity bright Yemens, and this one is true to character. At C+ roast the first flavors to emerge are spices: fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. At FC+ it's a different beast: bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, chai and "roastaroma tea" notes, licorice, cinnamon stick, clove, black walnut. The body seemed heavy, but I think it is actually deceptively light and perhaps it has to do with the intensity of cup flavors as it cools. The Ismaili makes great Single Origin (SO) espresso. The cup here is more rooty and earthy than the Sharasi, more pungent and extremely long in afteraste. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The best espresso I had from Ismaili was a casual experiment; 1/3 of a C+ roast rested for a week (!) and 2/3 of an FC++ roast rested for 36 hours. Fantastic!