At lighter roasts: Chocolate-dipped banana, fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. At darker roasts: dark chocolate, bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, licorice, cinnamon stick, clove, black walnut. Great Single Origin (SO) espresso. City+ to Vienna
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 cup has always had a big spicy character, not the fruitiest Yemen coffee but perhaps the most balanced. It's amazing, with all the strife in Yemen, we were even able to get coffee exported this year. But here it is, and it is cupping really well.
The dry fragrances from the Ismaili is closely tied to roast level. Light roast have a very sweet chocolate-dipped banana scent, whereas Full City roast has a much darker chocolate bittersweet, with traces of caramel. The wet aromatics have less fruit and more intense chocolate character, laced with spice. There is clove and allspice with a bit of ginger, while the darker roast (FC+) is very pungent and intense, with suggestions of sarsaparilla and anise. Ismaili are not fruity-bright Yemens but there are some interesting berry aroma hints in the medium roast. At C+ roast the first flavors to emerge are milk chocolate and spices: fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. That banana/ banana skin note from the fragrance emerges as the cup cools down a bit. At FC+ it's a different beast: intense bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, Chai and "roastaroma tea", licorice root, cinnamon bark, clove, some black walnut, and spiced chocolate. 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. 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 SO espresso was very intense and complex. With Ismaili it's fun to try a melange of 1/3 City+ roast and 2/3 FC or FC+ roast, either for drip or espresso.