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You are browsing 2005-2006 archive - R to S Reviews

Rwanda Migongo Bourbon
Country: Rwanda Grade: A1 and A2 Region: Gisaka - Migongo area Mark: Migongo Washing Station
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: Migongo is part of a more general area known as Gisaka-Migongo. It is both the name of the washing station (founded recently, in 2003, by Alfred Nkubili) and the general area around the station in Eastern Rwanda. Migongo is an ancient trabal name: A chiefdom that belonged to the kingdom of Gisaka. This is one of the many coffee producing areas of the country, but perhaps has a lower concentration of farms and mills (called "washing stations" in Rwanda) than the Western region nearer to Lake Kivu. I must admit that I glossed over this coffee on the cupping table the first time around. I was cupping a huge flight of coffees at once, Kenyas among them, and what I missed was the beautiful balance this cup has. It was when we brewed this coffee in the Technivorm later, for general consumption by all us warehouse-workers (all 6 of us, that is) that I caught the creamy chocolate notes, thick body, and slight floral hightlights in the cup. I didn't remember what it was at first, but I speculated it was a Bourbon culitvar nonetheless, since that is an exact description of what this old respected cultivar yeilds. It's one of the great things about Rwandan coffee: that Bourbon still dominates the plantings on the farms, as opposed to newer hybrids. Later I made SO Espresso (Single Origin, i.e. unblended, from an FC+ roast) with great results. The chocolate dominates the cup all the way through. It is both lively and subtle: not a bitter chocolate, not a laid-back milk chocolate, but inbetween. The wet aroma gives a clue to the hidden floral dimension here, very subtle. The mouthfeel (i.e. body) is very creamy, and there is a fresh cut cedar hint in the cup. It's so balanced, elegant in a way, and subtle that it can be overshadowed by powerhouse Kenyas and the like, but this coffee deserves special attention for it's quiet, attractive character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity/excellent balance, chocolate, mouthfeel  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for brewed coffee, and FC+ for espresso (or a more bittersweet brewed cup.)
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Clean and elegant, it is a lower-acid version of the Rwanda Rusenyi we had last year.

Rwanda Gatare Grade A
Country: Rwanda Grade: A Region: Gatare, Cyangugu Province, Western Rwanda Mark: Gatare Washing Station
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: November 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: I will come flat out and say it: I really like Rwandan coffee... not all of it, but some of it. And the potential is great. Why? Great altitude, climate and seedstock. The cup has classic East African character with a bright, firm, lively character. It has floral notes, is clean, has pungent and sweet elements. It's the stuff that gets a coffee cupper like me excited. This is our second year of purchasing Rwandan coffee we were able to cup quite a few offerings --- this Gatare Grade A really jumped out of the pack. Like most all Rwandan coffee, it is from a combination of small-holder farms and small estates, each with a small output of parchment coffee but together able to produce an exportable lot. The Gatare Washing Station is the coffee mill for the town, located in the most productive and fertile coffee area in Rwanda, the Western District near Lake Kivu. (This is #4 on the coffee map above). This microclimatedistrict has a whopping 1700-2000 meter coffee growing altitude, a range not found in many places. This is small-holder (basically, village coffee gardens of less than 1 hectare) coffee and is 100% traditional Bourbon arabica! The wet-milling, raised-bed-drying and dry-milling is done on-site at the co-op mill (called a washing station). The cup qualities depend greatly on the roast, and yet the coffee is terrific with a variety of roast treatments: at a lighter City stage it has sweet aromatics, brightness, with a more pungent, intense aspect emerging in the aroma at a Full City stage. There is an aromatic wood aroma that is very cedary when the cup is hot, and in the aftertaste. (When I "break the crust" on the cup, part of the cupping procedure, there is an intense waft of this nice cedary aromatic). There is a wonderful black tea quality with a twist of lemon rind. It's not an overly sweet cup at first (it sweetens as it cools), but rather it has a good crisp tangy bitterness complimented by the citric quality. The body is fairly light, but the cup is complex in that this coffee shows you different sensations as the aroma passes to flavors passes to aftertaste - in other words, it unveils itself in a very interesting way, and with each different roast treatment, and as each cup cools, it shows a slightly different variation on its overall theme. There's other descriptors on the chart, maybe even some that seem contradictory, but that is the epitome of a complex coffee. The only thing I rate lower here is Dry Fragrance, but hey, you don't drink that, so ...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold/ Cedar, Black Tea, Citrus Rind: Complexity
add 50 50 Roast: City to Full City+ and on. This has great dark roast potential, but of course I find more flavors worth discovering in the medium range of City+. See my roast photo above to discern the difference between them
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Has qualities of a lower-acid Yirgacheffe and Tanzanian, but is like neither exactly - a distinct East African cup profile, and pure Bourbon cultivar.

Saint Helena 

See the 2003 - 2004 Archive


El Salvador  

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

El Salvador Cup of Excellence #2 -Los Planes
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Citala, Chalatenango, 1600 m Mark: Cup of Excellence, 2nd place, Finca Los Planes
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-19+ Screen Varietal: Pacamara
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: The Los Planes Cup of Excellence lot from 2006 is of 100% Pacamara cultivar, and came in at #2 in the competition (93.52 points international jury score) even though we actually paid more for this lot that the #1! Sergio Ticas Reyes inherited Finca Los Planes from his grandfather, José Onofre Ticas, and it is a true estate coffee (they have their own mill -beneficio- and all coffee is patio dried). The farm is at 1600 meters, and is 70 hectares with 12 planted in coffee, and 57 with livestock, fruits and forest. Los Planes was originally all Typica variety only; Sergio’s father, also named José Onofre Ticas, preserved this cultivar until 1996, when his son replanted the farm with Bourbon and Pacamara varieties. The farm is in the Chalatenango district, which was not originally coffee land but has had great results in the CoE lately. Almost 60 people are employed during harvesting and 7 people permanently work in the Los Planes. The farm has set aside natural forest, which provides firewood for the workers, and there is one natural lagoon and water spring benefiting local fauna such as ducks, deer, tepezcuintles, cotuzas, and many species of birds. Enough about birds, what about the cup? There is a unique, almost piney (sappy -?-) sweetness in the dry fragrance at City+ and Full City roasts. It has a soft Dutch cocoa aspect to the grounds, and the lighter roast has sweet apple touches. Add water, and there is an interesting almond oil aromatic that emerges. I am reminded about those almond-topped croissants with Marzipan filling ... dessert or breakfast, you decide. In the tail end of the aroma I get a green apple (with some blossom too) fruit, and that's precisely the first thing that strikes me upon tasting the flavors with the trusty old cupping spoon: clean, dynamic green apple fruit essence. Interestingly, while I consider Pacamara coffees to be a roasting challenge (they tend to benefit from slower roasts in general), I also tested FC drum roasts both 7:30 (fast) in duration and 12:30 (about average for my sample roaster) and had similar cup character. There are spicey accents (cardomom, slight anise) and the body seems heavier than expected, creamy. When it cools there are sweet herbal notes which are a bit like a Riccola (I hope that doesn't sound bad, because it is subtle and comes off very nice in this cup). My notes from the competition list passion fruit as a dominant cup character here, but I can't reproduce that yet, although I intend to play with the roast some more. As I mentioned, this was actually the most expensive coffee in the auction, outpricing the #1 lot by a tad, mostly because our "buying group" of small roasters from the US, Oslo and Japan were absolutely determined to have it. I also understand this lot is mentioned in the Forbes article on the most expensive coffees, but I didn't check that out, since they also list a bunch of awful coffees too, and price and cup quality don't always jive in the coffee world.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 3 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Creamy body, complexity, fruited and herbal hints  
Sergio (center) with the foremen
add 50 50 Roast: See the notes above, it works on a variety of medium roasts, but FC was ideal, with a slower roast overall, especially in the warmup stages.
Score (Max. 100) 90.8 Compare to: This is a great, complex and unique Pacamara coffee. The CoE jury (I was one) rated this 93.5 … I was a bit tougher here, and I take into account the varitey of roast levels I perform on the coffee. Small Lot! Limit 1 lb per order

El Salvador - The Juan Francisco Project
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Santa Ana Mark: Juan Francisco Menendez
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica, Pacas
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: What's with the odd name. Well, that's what I called this in my notes" "The Juan Francisco Project" and there is a story behind it. This was a very unusual coffee that came to light at the 2006 El Salvador Cup of Excellence competition. It split the jury, and created quite a debate. The national jury found it heavily fruited, laced with passion fruit aromatics and cup flavors. The head judge wasn't sure ...was this coffee too fruity? Could it be a problem with the wet-processing: over-fermentation. They decided to pass the coffee to the International Jury (of which I was a member) to get a broader comment. It jumped out on the table with distinct floral and fruit notes. I think it startled people, and made them suspicious: was this a Gesha or some other unusual cultivar? Why was it so distinct from the other cups? Would this coffee hold up over time. It proved to be too much for the majority of the judges, and a conservative impulse took over. It was knocked out of the competition. I can fully understand how some found it suspicious; after all a coffee that is fruity (tainted during the fermentation, or perhaps overripe on the tree) versus fruited (positive "clean" fruited cup flavors) would come back to bite the buyer ... after several minths a fruity coffee will fall flat, and develop metallic flavors, or simply taste dirty. Well, personally I couldn't stop thinking about this unusual cup, so I tracked down the producer, and have cupped the coffee at several stages along the way to see if it was simply an unusual character, or would develop into a taint. The story behind the cup hints at the later: Juan Francisco Menendez has a small farm at high altitude ... very high altitude, on the rim of the volcano basically. There are no roads and it is steep, so the coffee must be walked down, carried on the back by his helpers, one bag at a time. But coffee cherry must br processed rapidly after picking to prevent fermentation. Juan has a special peeler (it uses no water) to start the process up high and stabilize the coffee, then walks it down for final drying down low. To me, this delay if getting the coffee fully dry was where the odd fruit notes were coming from. But as I cupped the coffee over time, I came to believe that the extreme altitude, slower maturation of cherry on the tree, and late harvesting as a result, were all major contributors to the cup. Here it is, the shipment finally arrived, and while it does not seem as extreme as it did when it lept forth from the cupping table at the CoE competition, this is very much the heavily fruited cup that I couldn't forget. The cup has sweet aromatics (brown sugar) and is more bittersweet in the actual cup flavors. It is loaded with tropical fruit, melon, passionfruit, peach and apricot. There's a pulpy fruited quality, like a general stone fruit aspect, that also reminds me of the texture of peach or apricot nectar, and fruit skins in the finish. After resting, the cup adds a spicey dimension: cardomom and ginger. I intend to keep working with Juan Francisco to maximize the quality of this interesting coffee, and deal with the logistical problem of getting that cherry processed each night after picking, so the cup is fruited, not fruity. Hence the ongoing nature of this work, and "The Juan Francisco Project".
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/fruited cup with good body  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ (My favorite). Darker roasts seemed to lose the fruited brightness in the cup
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Compare to: Distinct among Salvadors (read the story!)

El Salvador Cup of Excellence #12 -El Zapote
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Ahuachapan, 1600 m Mark: Cup of Excellence, 12th place,
Finca El Zapote
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: October 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19+ Screen Varietal: 100% Pacamara
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Finca El Zapote is a 14 hectare farm planted in Pacamara cultivar, in the traditional coffee region of Ahuachapán. It is part of the Urrutia’s Estate Coffee farms, a family own business whose origins date back to the 1870’s, five generations ago, when Mr. Juan Urrutia began planting coffee. This farm is located 1600 meters, more than 5000 ft, in the crest of the Apaneca - Ilamatepec Mountain range. El Zapote is completely shade grown coffee and it is surrounded by a natural forest. The farms are home to more than 24 species of mammals, 259 species of insects and over 120 species of migratory birds. This lot was 12th place in the 2006 Cup of Excellence, and it stood out for me because of the unique Pacamara flavors in the cup.The lighter roasts (City, C+) have a very nuts-and-caramel fragrance, while bittersweet chocolate dominates at Full City and FC+. The roast difference is expressed in the wet aroma too, where the lighter roasts have a sweet "French toast and syrup" (I am not kidding) smell with hints of marmalade and tropical fruit, while a roast just 30 seconds longer (FC+) is much more chocolatey with dark dried fruit (raisin and prune). There's a zesty orange note in both roasts when it comes to the cup flavors, and the body is surprisingly silky, rounded and viscous. The darker roast is (again) chocolatey but the orange is not lost, and there is a dark blackberry sweetness there too. Pacamaras are touchy in the roaster, they like a long, slow roast process. I did some tests, and my 12:30 minute drum roasts just seemed a bit more complex that the 8 minute batches. In the iRoast2, the results were the same, with a 11 minute roast having more dimension than a faster, smaller batch at 6:30 minutes, finishing at the same level of FC. Of course, the final "degree of roast" matters more here, and a good 24-48+ hour rest is recommended for the sake of heavier body and balance. The question is , do you like chocolate with that fruit? If so, I might agree that FC and FC+ flavors with reverb to them, and chocolate with blackberry is not a bad combination at all!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / chocolate with blackberry hints, viscous body.  
add 50 50 Roast: See the review, because both C, C+ work well, and Full City to Full City + gives a different overall character.
Score (Max. 100) 88

Compare to: Very much an El Savador Pacamara, with interesting and complex flavor aspects that are very dependent on " degree of roast," but also roast curve/profile. Small Lot! Limit 1 lb per order


El Salvador Organic -Santa Adelaida
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: San Salvador Volcano Mark: Santa Adelaida Cooperative, OCIA Certified Organic
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: April 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Old-Growth
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Santa Adelaida cooperative was started in 1980 as part of an agrarian reform movement. The Coop has pursued organic farming in 1992, despite the fact that the yields were lower than with conventional methods. Santa Adelaida grows almost exclusively the old, lower-yielding Bourbon variety coffee trees at elevations over 4000 feet, resulting in a coffee with a very balanced, well-structured cup. I visited the coop in 2004 and patiently sat through the typical and patently boring hour long speeach that starts out with "The Structure of Our Cooperative" and then on to "The Members of Our Board of Directors" and ends with "The Minutes from Our Last Meeting". It's all well-meaning, but that doesn't make it interesting! I just wanted to see the mill, see how they are handling the coffee, keeping the lots distinct (or not), and find out if they are on the right path for long-term, sustainable quality. My answer is obvious because we have this coffee on our offering sheet, and the cup quality speaks for itself. Overall the cup is distinctly bright and nippy in the lighter roasts, and be aware of an herbal character at this roast level that I find oustanding, but another cupper thought was borderline vegetable. This herbal, rosemary-thyme quality is in the dry-fragrance, and in the cup flavors. My light roast cupping samples had a warm, toasted grain wet aroma, with pronounced acidic snap to the cup, and nutty roast notes. I picked up apple and sassafras as secondary flavors. I did several roasts at darker stages, but City+ is where the cup is distinctly Salvadorean in character. That said, my darker roasts (FC and Vienna) were nice, brooding, pungent cups. They were very well structured for a darker roast: the cup didn't "fall apart" as some darker roasts can do. The dark roast had a great clean rooty quality (sounds like an oxymoron there, but think of root beer!) paired with a tangy chocolate roast taste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/crisp brightness, interesting nuances  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ (My favorite) to Full City to Vienna - see the description.
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: This cup has a very Bourbon cup charater, and it is supposed to be 100% old growth Bourbon but I cannot confirm that.

El Salvador Las Ranas WP Decaf
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mark: Finca Las Ranas Estate
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: February 2006 Arrival (Late '05 crop) Appearance: 1.5d/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, silky body. 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) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balance and structure  
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 -Finca El Carmen
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mark: El Carmen Estate
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: Jan 2006 Arrival (Late '05 crop) Appearance: 1.5d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Red Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Finca El Carmen is located 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 at El Carmen Estate Farm are shade grown, Bourbon variety, worked with the traditional system of pruning, shade management, fertilization and other cultural practices. Special attention is given to harvesting, hand picking the coffee cherries at the perfect ripeness, free of yellow and unripe cherries. The coffee mill, also named El Carmen, is located within the Estate farm, is a medium size operation dedicated to processing mainly Gourmet coffee, maintaining the identity of each lot throughout the entire process. The mill is capable of processing eight different origins completely separated from each other. Besides coffee from El Carmen, the company is currently processing some of the finest origins from El Salvador. 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. Parchment coffee is stored in wooden silos, where it rests for a minimum of 60 days under ideal conditions to reach uniform humidity and color. The cup represents El Salvador Bourbon coffee perfectly; balanced, mildly sweet, with chocolate notes, uniform, and very dense (which you can see by the way the coffee "crease" remains tight and uncracke at the ends after roasting). 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) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balance and structure  
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) 86.6 Compare to: Classic Central character from a classic cultivar: Red Bourbon

El Salvador Monte Leon "Miel"
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region:
Ahuachapán 
Mark: Monte Leon
Processing: Pulped Natural (Brazil Style) Process Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: .5 d/300gr,
17-18+ Screen
Varietal: Bourbon Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Okay, I am taking partial credit for the existence of this coffee, even though I didn't import it. The fact is, Sweet Maria's is too small to take on some projects, but that doesn't mean that, like a little mosquito, I can't buzz around the cupping rooms of the Bay Area and plant a few seeds. That happened here, and the seed grew into a full container lot of great, unique Salvadoran coffee. Here's the short history; we had a mix of pleasure and disappointment from a coffee processed at Santa Elena farm in Costa Rica using a Brazil-style method called Pulped Natural. In Costa Rica they called it "Miel" (honey), and while it's ubiquitous in Brazil, it is considered unheard of (and risky) in Central America. When it was good, this coffee had great body, a husky sweet "wild-honey" cup with moderate acidity. It is great as a brewed/press coffee, it is great as straight espresso, it is great in espresso blends, especially with top quality Brazils. To do this method, you pulp the skin off the coffee cherry, and without removing the fruity mucilage layer, sun-dry the remaining seed. The long contact the fruit has with the parchment layer changes the character of the green coffee inside the parchment, and has this unique effect on the cup. It's not for purists, who consider this a flavor due to process, and never quite repeatable (ie, George Howell would hate it). And in fact, that was the problem in Costa Rica - a little rain or high humidity while the coffee is drying, a little damage to the protective parchment allowing fruit to contact green seed, and the lot is ruined. I gave up on the Santa Elena Miel after bad experiences, but I didn't give up on the notion that this, done right, done to a good dense Bourbon cultivar, done on raised beds to promote quick even natural drying, it would work. In El Salvador last year, a place loaded with old-world Bourbon trees, I tried to find someone willing to do this on a small scale, but no takers. I brought up the idea with other roasters, trying to put together a pool so we could buy a larger lot, but nobody really went for it. I planted the seed with a couple brokers who have great contacts in Salvador, and lo and behold, it stuck. Or maybe I am deluding myself, but I don't care. José Antonio Salaverria with an excellent mill in Ahuachapán (Western district near Santa Ana and Sonsonate) produced 2 incredible lots of Bourbon "Miel" coffees, and of the 2 I had a preference for this, the Monte Leon. It's just as a Miel should be ... thick body, sweet malty raw honey, big rounded mouthfeel - it's like a Central American coffee with more meat on the bones- a thick coffee. Straight espresso with this can have more acidity than some prefer (I love it at Full City+ roast, straight) but if it's too much than blend it 50-50 with a low-toned Brazil.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / great body, thick mouthfeel
add 50 50 Roast: Versatility is huge. I like Full City here, for brewed and press coffee. The Full City espresso is intense and maybe too bright for some. This coffee is excellent at darker roast levels, still sweet, pungent, spicy.
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: A very different coffee from Centrals in general, which are always wet-processed. A cross between a Brazil and a Central

El Salvador Cup of Excellence -El Pacamaral
Country: El Salvador Grade: SHB Region: Tizapa, Apaneca, Ahuachapán Mark: Cup of Excellence, El Pacamaral, Los Ausoles Selecto
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 19-20+ Screen Varietal: 100% Pacamara
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: El Pacamaral is a climber ... last year 24th in the Cup of Excellence, this year 7th. When you consider that a CoE competition starts with anywhere from 400 to 700 farms competing, it's miraculous to even make it into the auction 2 years in a row. And just one defective bean in a cup along the way, as the coffee is cupped and re-cupped by the National Jury, then makes the cut to the International Jury, means the lot is thrown out. This is tricky with a Pacamara coffee (Pacamara is a natural cross between the Pacas cultivar - a caturra mutant- and the huge Maragogype cultivar). The result is a coffee with unusual roast profiles and a lot, I mean a LOT, sometimes too much ... character. They can end up a bit weird, with green onion or other vegetal notes. But when they are good, man, they are really good. El Pacamaral is a small farm, part of a larger enterprise, but in itself a mere 37 hectares. El Pacamaral farm was bought by Eduardo Francisco in 1984, however his coffee tradition started more than 100 years ago with his grandfather, Apolinario Magaña, in the highlands of Apaneca’s beautiful mountains. Eduardo’s had trouble with the large-bean Pacamara varietal initially. In the late 1980’s when he was harvesting the huge pacamara coffee cherry, the milling equipment could not handle the bean size. Now he sends the Pacamara to a neighboring mill that has special equipment to de-pulp and wet-process the coffee. Anyway, CoE is all bout the cup: Right off the bat, the Pacamaral went to the top of my "A List" while blind-cupping the 17 winning samples. It was intense, and (boy, I hate using this word) … it was "rich." I mean it, deep, chocolaty, and fat. Yes, fat, it covered my palate, was very broad, and ends up in the aftertaste sticking to my taste buds like sweet syrupy chocolate glue. Milk chocolate is strong in the aromatics, bordering on fresh bittersweet, lively chocolate (reminds me of a really good fresh bar of Dagoba chocolate I had recently). Bittersweets park themselves in the rear of your mouth and just stay their forever, along with a fresh sweet tobacco leaf note (not smoky, not ashy). The intensity falls off a little from the aromatics to the cup flavors, but still this is a complex cup, with very unusual nuances. I even find Chaote, a squash with crisp flavors, in the finish. Now, the best examples of this coffee were from my drum roasts, about 12 minutes, with a nice slow finish, to a Full City with no apparent 2nd crack. The air roasts are similar but after a few days of rest. At this point, you also get the full body out of the coffee. There's also a very attractive top end to this cup, a clean citric touch that works as a perfect counterpoint to this multi-dimensional chocolate-bittersweet wallop.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold/ complex-deep cup, chocolate
add 50 50 Roast: Full City/ Full City+. See the notes above. City roast is a bit odd with this coffee, so it requires just a bit more time in terms of "degree of roast". Also be aware that these large Pacamara beans will not agitate as easily in an air roaster, so reduce batch size slightly. Best to roast manually and stop at the verge of 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 88.7 Compare to: Unusual among the El Salvador coffees, a character driven more by the cultivar (Pacamara) than the origin.



Sulawesi 

Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf
Country: Sulawesi Grade: One Region: Torajaland Mark: WP  
Processing: Semi-Dry-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: July 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 to 18scr Varietal: Sumatra Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2 Notes: It's rare to have a decaf cup that uses the non-chemical water process method and cups at the same caliber as the non-decaf coffee from the same source … in fact it has often been a challenge for me to find a SWP coffee with any character at all. The process is too brutal of on the coffee, so I thought, to leave much character behind. But this coffee originated with an excellent Sulawesi lot, and then was sent to new water-process decaffeinator in Mexico. The results are striking ... not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sulawesi in this respect), but as it cools you start to sense the Sulawesi character emerge. The cup is deep-toned, an attractive blend of dried fruit sweetness held in check against Indonesian forest-floor earthiness. 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.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: Sulwesi 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) 1 Compare to: A non-chemical water process coffee that truly ranks right alongside its non-decaf counterpart.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 84.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Low acidity

Sulawesi Wet -Process Toarco
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: Sulawesi Toraja Mark: Toarco Jaya Plantation
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2006 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's a large from 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 Toraja Grade 1
Country: Sulawesi
(formerly Celebes)
Grade: 1 Region: Torajaland
(formerly Kalossi)
Mark:

Grade 1

Processing: Semi-washed process Crop: February 2006 arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 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 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. In other brewing, this baritone aspect is underscored. The cup has more brightness in the acidity than last years crop but still most of the flavors are compacted into a very deep range, with caramel-chocolate, spice, macademia nut, and dark plum flavors emerging side by side. The body is a bit lighter too but let it rest to get the most of the legendary Sulwesi mouthfeel! This is not a very earthy lot, it has a very husky sweetness to it - With the supply of Sulawesi being a bit tight this year, I am very happy to score such a fine lot!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City, or darker if you dare. Roasting into 2nd crack is optional, but many like it with a heavier roast taste on it, which diminishes some of the earthy character in semi-wet-process Indonesian coffees like Sulawesi and Sumatra.
Add 50 50 Compare to: More sophisticated Indonesians (not musty earth, good clean earth!) It is great as straight unblended espresso too.
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, low acid

Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf
Country: Sulawesi Grade: One Region: Torajaland Mark: WP  
Processing: Semi-Dry-processed, then decaf by Water Process Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17 to 18scr Varietal: Sumatra Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2 Notes: It's rare to have a decaf cup that uses the non-chemical water process method and cups at the same caliber as the non-decaf coffee from the same source … in fact it has often been a challenge for me to find a SWP coffee with any character at all. The process is too brutal of on the coffee, so I thought, to leave much character behind. But this coffee originated with an excellent Sulawesi lot, and then was sent to new water-process decaffeinator in Mexico. The results are striking ... not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sulawesi in this respect), but as it cools you start to sense the Sulawesi character emerge. The cup is deep-toned, an attractive blend of dried fruit sweetness held in check against Indonesian forest-floor earthiness. 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.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: Sulwesi 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) 1 Compare to: A non-chemical water process coffee that truly ranks right alongside its non-decaf counterpart.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 83.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Low acidity

Also see the Monsooned Sulawesi and Aged Sulawesi reviews in the 2003-2004 Archives

Sumatra 

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!

Sumatra Organic Gayoland WP Decaf
Island: Sumatra Grade: One Region: Aceh Mark: WP Decaf
Processing: Semi-Dry-processed, Water Process Decaf Crop: August 2006 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, earth

Sumatra Blue Lintong
Island: Sumatra Grade: One "Region" Lake Toba region, Lintong Mark: Lintong, Grade One, Triple Pick
Processing: Semi-dry-processed Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: Oh joy ...this coffee smells so good while roasting, it smells so good green too! I don't mean to wax poetics, but I love all those smells when they converge: anise blossom, trees honeyed with sap, moist earth. While Lintong is a premium Mandheling, it ironically is not all that much better looking in appearance.It does not have the darker, bluer appearance as we sometimes see, hence the name Blue Lintong. Yes, this *is* Blue Lintong, but it seemed ironic to me to call it blue when its a green tinted with blue. Why not "aqua lintong"? I jest. Anyway I am not what they call an "eye-cupper" in the trade ...you cannot know the cup quality of a coffee by looking at the appearance of the green, and you shouldn't do that either: odd looking coffees sometimes have the best cup! And you don't drink coffee with your eyeballs. So I put it up against the other excellent Sumatras from this year and I really liked it. It's a sweeter in the aroma, with a carmelized note and apple character, and fruitier, brighter Sumatra, as opposed to the earthier tongue-grabbing pruney ones. It has a dark malty quality to the sweetness. There's an aromatic woodyness in the lighter roast that is very pleasant, somewhat sandalwood, and a hint of almond oils, and (if this descriptor makes any sense), rustic butterscotch. There's an aromatic woodyness in the lighter roast that is very pleasant, somewhat sandalwood, and a hint of almond oils. Of course it has a full, rich, oily body and great depth. In fact, most of the flavors in a Sumatra are not in the aromatic and volatile chlorogenic acids (Sumatra has low measurable quantities of acids) but in the soluble solids that give a sense of heavy body/mouthfeel, and in the fats/lipids. You sense these flavors in the back of the mouth, in the oily, waxy soluable solids.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Sweeter aroma than Mandheling, body, low acidity.  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop is best roasted a tad into 2nd crack, just a few snaps : wide latitude in roast. Remember that Sumatras show a lighter roast color for their specific degree of roast.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians in the vein of Iskandar and Lake Tawar triple pick, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors

Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick
Country: Sumatra Grade: Grade 1, Triple-Picked Region: Northern Highlands of Medan Mark: Iskandar
Processing: 100% Sun-dried, Semi-washed process Crop: August 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Iskandar is another coffee mill from the Lake Tawar region of Sumatra. 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. Surprisingly, this coffee is handled and distributed exclusively by Hacienda La Minita, who acts as advisors to the farmers and mill in processing this coffee and preparing of this semi-washed coffee, and in their exacting preparation methods. The result is one of the most beautiful, large-bean Sumatras we have ever stocked and is Triple hand-picked after drying to remove defects. But more important than the appearance of the green coffee is, of course, the cup quality. The Iskandar has less earthiness and mustiness than the Grade 1 Mandheling, a more refined and lightly fruited cup overall. The preparation is even cleaner than the Lake Tawar we had earlier this year and the cup is cleaner too. The fragrance is caramel and milk chocolate, with just a bit of natural huskiness, while the wet aromatics turn sharply pungent; dark rye bread tones and herby hints. There's a bit of plum in the aromas too. The aromatics overall of are a greater intensity than the Mandheling and Lintong coffees. There are Sumatra coffees that are all bass note, that completely miss the front of your palate and tongue and pass to the back of your mouth. Iskandar is different than this, partly because it actually has some degree of balance in the cup, and mild acidity (grown at higher elevations than other Sumatras). It has a very thick mouthfeel, a kind of butterscotch sweetness that ends with more of a bittersweet, and there are dominant herby sage and basil flavors in the cup at the Full City roast I prefer (right at the cusp of 2nd crack). Allow the coffee to rest after roasting for min. 24 hours to enjoy the body in this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.1
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City to Full City+. I prefer it just before 2nd crack starts, the rested 48 hours before brewing so the body can develop. Can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack though: wide latitude in roast. Remember that Sumatras show a lighter roast color for their specific degree of roast. Espresso: I find Iskandar too intense for straight espresso, at least in the N. Italian/lighter roast espresso I prefer. But I think it really adds an alamzing "grace note' at 20% in espresso blends.
add 50 50.0
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Large bean premium, triple-pick, zero-defect Sumatras
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ to Bold / Body, low acid

Sumatra Organic Gayo Mountain
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 Region: Gayo Mark: Gayo Mountain Mill, Organic Cert.
Processing: Dry-processed (actually, semi-dry) Crop: January 2006 Arrival Appearance: 2.2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Gayo Mountain is a distinct cooperative mill, and is not the same as Gayoland... Gayo Mountain is unique because the same company that own the mill also imports the coffee, so the process is controlled from the mill to the cup by one overseer. This shows in the good preparation of the coffee and screening, a rarity with dry-process Sumatras. Gayo Mountain produces a range of coffees from fully-washed Sumatra (a very odd experience and not one I can offer you at this time based on my cupping results) and non-Organic lots. 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. The fragrance has a really nice fruitiness to it (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 spicey pepper 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 for the last 5 years! This Gayo Mountain is a case in point.

 

 

 

 

 

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, fruited-spicey aromas, low acidity
add 50 50 Roast: I like the City+ to Full City+ - this coffee has deep, dark character that some associate wioth 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 TimTim Blangili Longberry
Country: Sumatra Grade: One Region: Takengon, Aceh Province Mark: Blue Batak
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: November 2005 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr, 19+ screen Varietal: TimTim Blangili Longberry
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: This is about as exotic as a micro-lot of coffee can be … it is a special cultivar of Sumatra varietal that produces a pronounced longberry form and large size. In this way, I suspect Ethiopia roots, like the Geisha cultivar, although the cup flavors do not support this. The name of the cultivar variation is TimTim Blangili, the name of it's progenitor and is grown on an extremely small scale in the Takengon area of Aceh province, Sumatra. I must admit, I have yet to gather the full details of the story behind this special coffee; it was offered to me basically because it is at a premium price than many roasters won't pay. In other words, I have a reputation in the coffee world as a "sucker." Okay, that's a bit too self-debasing even for me. The fact is, one glance at the green and you know this coffee an unusual heritage, and the cup ...ah, the cup; it is a funky, unusual and truly "Sumatran" cup. It starts with a Dry Fragrance of rustic, raw sweetness and has hints of papaya and sorghum syrup. The wet aromatics are muted but sandalwood is distinguishable. Herbal flavors come out in the cup, and the rustic sweetness from the fragrance reemerges, with hints of oak and a nice smokiness (one from the coffee origin-flavors, not from the roast-taste). The body is medium heavy and has a nice waxy mouthfeel. The aftertaste has a raw unfiltered honey sweetness, herbal tones, and a neat nuttiness that (paired with the waxy mouthfeel) comes off like cashew for me. It's not one of these refined Sumatras, it doesn't have the brighter sweetness of the Blue Batak Peaberry that came in at the same time ... but rather it has the blunt, classic Sumatran character; coffee from the forest, a bit rustic, a bit exoticm, a bit rough around the edges, very enjoyable.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
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: Medium-Bold intensity / Classic Sumatra character - rustic sweetness, herbs  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City or FC+: I liked my really light City roasts too, but I think most people will prefer the roast-taste development of FC better.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: A classic Sumatra funkiness, interesting subtlties and great mouthfeel

Sumatra Aged Mandheling ('03 Crop)
Country: Sumatra Grade: One Region: "Mandheling" Mark: Holland
Processing: Semi-wet process, Aged 3 years at origin Crop: 2003 Appearance: 4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2 Notes: Aged coffee, true aged coffee, can be a shock to the system. It is a mixture of pain (initially) and pleasure, later, when the initial shock has worn off. In fact, aged coffee is defective. But then again, so is fruity wine, some people would argue. Good aged coffee, real aged coffee, will have great body, extremely low acidity, smokey notes, woody/oaky flavors, and an intensity of flavor you will either love or hate. This is an aged coffee that originated with2003 crop Mandheling Grade One and was held in Sumatra 3 years for the aging process. Aged coffees are not simply old coffee! You can't just put some green coffee in your basement for 3 years and end up with aged coffee (although its fun to see what you get -other than moldy coffee!) The process has to occur in a controlled environment in the country of origin with appropriate climate to prevent the coffee from drying out. The bags are turned and rotated in their stacks every so often, and the rebagged before shipping. It costs a lot to hold onto a stock of coffee like this, and the final results can be disastrous! The coffee can be ruined at any point along the way, and result in a total loss. I have cupped terrible Aged coffees that someone is attempting to pass off (with little luck). This aged sumatra is the real deal, deep orange in color, and roasts to an even, golden brown. I suggest Full City+ to light Vienna roast, and 2 days rest for this coffee. The first sip is indeed a bit jarring, but after your palate adjusts, you can find a unique sweetness, like sweet smoke, aged-oaky notes, heavy body, and a complete lack of acidity ... well, very very low acidity. It has a certain mellowness to it that is hard to describe, because the first sip is definitely not mellow and soft. Still, it is not for the faint of heart, and don't order a sizable amount without tasting it. Aged Sumatra; I could not drink it every day, but it sure is a welcome break from the routine. In fact, it is so "out there" it is hard to even consider this flavor profile in the company of other coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 2.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 7.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City+ to Vienna. I like this roasted at least a few snaps into second crack, or even better, light Vienna roast. This coffee gets smoother and more sophisticated as it rests. Give it 48-72 hours. If you have heat control, use a low initial heat when the coffee hits the roast chamber/drum, and raise it progressively.
add 50 50 Compare to: Complex, low acid, brooding cup profile.
Score (Max. 100) 82.3 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Body, smokey, woody

Sumatra Iskandar Triple-Pick
Country: Sumatra Grade: Grade 1, Triple-Picked Region: Northern Highlands of Medan Mark: Iskandar
Processing: 100% Sun-dried, Semi-washed process Crop: July 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18-19 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Iskandar is another coffee mill from the Lake Tawar region of Sumatra. 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. Surprisingly, this coffee is handled and distributed exclusively by Hacienda La Minita, who acts as advisors to the farmers and mill in processing this coffee and preparing of this semi-washed coffee, and in their exacting preparation methods. The result is one of the most beautiful, large-bean Sumatras we have ever stocked and is Triple hand-picked after drying to remove defects. But more important than the appearance of the green coffee is, of course, the cup quality. The Iskandar has less earthiness and mustiness than the Grade 1 Mandheling, a more refined and lightly fruited cup overall. The preparation is even cleaner than the Lake Tawar we had earlier this year and the cup is cleaner too. The fragrance is caramel and milk chocolate, with just a bit of natural huskiness, while the wet aromatics turn sharply pungent; dark rye bread tones and herby hints. There's a bit of plum in the aromas too. The aromatics overall of are a greater intensity than the Mandheling and Lintong coffees. There are Sumatra coffees that are all bass note, that completely miss the front of your palate and tongue and pass to the back of your mouth. Iskandar is different than this, partly because it actually has some degree of balance in the cup, and mild acidity (grown at higher elevations than other Sumatras). It has a very thick mouthfeel, a kind of butterscotch sweetness that ends with more of a bittersweet, and there are dominant herby sage and basil flavors in the cup at the Full City roast I prefer (right at the cusp of 2nd crack). Allow the coffee to rest after roasting for min. 24 hours to enjoy the body in this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: City to Full City+. I prefer it just before 2nd crack starts, the rested 48 hours before brewing so the body can develop. Can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack though: wide latitude in roast. Remember that Sumatras show a lighter roast color for their specific degree of roast. Espresso: I find Iskandar too intense for straight espresso, at least in the N. Italian/lighter roast espresso I prefer. But I think it really adds an alamzing "grace note' at 20% in espresso blends.
add 50 50.0
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Large bean premium Sumatras - Lake Tawar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium+ to Bold / Body, low acid

Sumatra Volkopi Supergrade
Country: Sumatra Grade: One Region: Lake Toba Mark: Volkopi Triple Pick Preparation
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2005 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Sumatran coffees that undergo extra levels of preparation to remove defective seeds are, sometimes, a bit of a conundrum. Regular, green, "Grade One" Mandhelings can be quite ugly to the eye, but cup with good, intense Sumatran character. It is possible that you change the character dramatically by removing all those weird looking ones. And I know of special-prep Sumatras that have no character at all. (It is interesting to cup a fully wet-processed Sumatra, but the experience is quite disappointing usually). Anyway, here is a triple pick, special preparation Sumatra that has character bursting at the seams; intense and unique cup qualities! The dry fragrance starts with a rough, rustic sweetness, like funky molasses. There's something in there that smells almost, well, sweaty! Not that it's a bad thing though ...it's just a husky fragrance. The wet aromatics are dynamic; rye-barley, sweet dark stout beer, and in the lighter roasts it has a bit of wet hay (see roast recommendations). Cup flavors boast a butterscotch sweetness, dark brown sugar and a deep fruity note; plum? blackberry? The body is viscous and oily, adding to the "beef broth" quality in the finish. There's a rustic sweetness throughout the cup, finishing with sorghum syrup flavors. Now, if some of my descriptors sound totally repulsive, then I have failed to describe that somehow this cup character works. Unusual, yes. Funky, yes. The first sip, a bit of a shock. Get over that and this coffee has incredible, vibrant character. One note: this cup has more brightness than you might expect from a Sumatra, and in all the personality of this coffee is quite distinct from a Mandheling. But it is a shame to pass up due to it's cup quirks; and perhaps worth exploring for those who do not like the musty Mandheling cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity /A unique mix of rustic and refined cup qualities  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City + . Actually, I don't like the character of the lighter City and City+ roast here. They have a wet hay aroma (not a defective aroma, just too odd).
Score (Max. 100) 88.9 Compare to: Powerhouse Sumatra … but not with typical Mandheling cup attributes.

Sumatra Blue Batak Peaberry
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 (see review) Region: Tonggi, Lake Toba Mark: Blue Batak
Processing: Dry Processed Crop: November 2005 Arrival Appearance: 4 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 premium 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 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, 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!

Sumatra Lintong Dry-Processed
Island: Sumatra Grade: One "Region" Lake Toba, Lintong Mark: Lintong
Processing: Semi-dry-processed Crop: June 2005 Arrival Appearance: 1.5 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: Oh joy ...this coffee smells so good while roasting, it smells so good green too! I don't mean to wax poetics, but I love all those smells when they converge: sweet tropical flowers, trees honeyed with sap, moist earth. While Lintong is a premium Mandheling, it ironically is not all that attractive in appearance. I was a little disappointed with the preparation when I saw it. It does not have the darker, bluer appearance as we sometimes see, hence the name Blue Lintong. Yes, this IS Blue Lintong, but it seemed ironic to me to call it blue when its not, so we'll just call it Lintong for now. Anyway I am not what they call an "eye-cupper" in the trade ...you CANNOT know the cup quality of a coffee by looking at the appearance of the green, and you shouldn't do that either: odd looking coffees sometimes have the best cup! And you don't drink coffee with your eyeballs. So I put it up against the other excellent Sumatras from this year and I loved it! It's a sweeter in the aroma, with a candy apple character, and fruitier, brighter Sumatra, as opposed to the earthier tongue-grabbing pruney ones. There's an aromatic woodyness in the lighter roast that is very pleasant, somewhat sandalwood, and a hint of almond oils. Of course it has a full, rich, oily body and great depth. In fact, most of the flavors in a Sumatra are not in the aromatic and volatile chlorogenic acids (Sumatra has low measurable quantities of acids) but in the soluble solids that give a sense of heavy body/mouthfeel, and in the fats/lipids. You sense these flavors in the back of the mouth, in the oily, waxy soluble solids.

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Sweeter aroma than Mandheling, body, low acidity.
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop is best roasted a tad into 2nd crack, just a few snaps : wide latitude in roast. Remember that Sumatras show a lighter roast color for their specific degree of roast.
Score (Max. 100) 86.3 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors

Sumatra Gr.1 Mandheling DP (Grade One, Dry-Process)
Island: Sumatra Grade: One "Region" Central Sumatra -Mandheling Mark: Lot 8197
Processing: Semi-washed
(but called "dry")
Crop: May 2005 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3

Notes: Dry-processed Sumatran coffees are the boldest of the Indonesian coffee-growing world. Low-acid, deep, complex; it is entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Toba and Lake Takengon (Mandheling is not really a region ...it is a Sumatran ethnic group) has a heavy body (dry-processing aids this) and a rich, complex earthy flavor. It has a pleasing, tangy bittersweet and aggressive musty twist in the flavor which makes it so popular among fans of the darker roast. Sumatras are earthy to varying degrees. It's Sumatra, it's great, and when it is a really good lot (and not past crop!) it always is: what more can be said. This coffee is basically dry processed, so I would not cull out odd-looking beans before roasting ...you will be surprised how well things work out in the end. You can't buy Sumatras based on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. You might want to pick out light underroasted beans after roasting, but I choose not to do that either. Finding good lots of Mandheling is difficult, especially now that the demand is high, the Tsunami has put more political pressures on the area, (the Tsunami did not affect coffee lands), and the coffee is selling way over the market prices as it used to . Still, it is ubiquitous. Anyone can stock a Sumatra -just call any broker and buy a bag. But getting a really good lot takes a lot of cupping and a good sense of timing. The best Sumatras usually aren't the first arrivals of the new season, nor the last, but exactly where the crop quality will peak is hard to say. Actually the crop starts arriving in November or so but early lots were not good- and in fact it appears now that the exporters are blending old crop and new crop lots in the early shipments -an unsavory practice. We wait for the "peak of the crop" to arrive for the best cup quality, and this arrival was exactly that. Now, this is not a pretty looking coffee, but then again we don't taste with our eyes. You need to look past appearance and just roast it. And as far as that goes, I am recommending darker roasts than previous years, Full City+, a few snaps into 2nd crack. This is a deep, brooding, pungent, bass note coffee, with and undertone of earthy dark chocolate. The almost tarry character makes it, perhaps, an unbalanced cup, lacking acidity, lacking a bright end to the cup. But this IS the right character for a good Grade 1, Dry -Process Mandheling, so that's that! Ugly coffee alert: Category Red! This lot of Mandheling has the right cup character, but it is also ugly as heck. But we don't enjoy coffee based on appearance, and sometimes the fairness of the green and the quality of the cup have little correlation. This is one of those times...

Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.3
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, earth, low acid
add 50 50 Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop 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.
Score (Max. 100) 85.3 Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors

Sumatra Natural Decaf
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Island Region: Sumatra, Mandheling Mark: Coffein Natural Decaf
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: July 2005 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16/17scr Varietal: Sumatra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.0 Notes: I am very excited to have an Indonesian decaf processed by the Ethyl Acetate method. My personal opinion is that the cup quality of this Sumatra surpasses all the Swiss Water Sumatras I have ever stocked. Natural Decafs are a newer 'chemical' process that use a safe fruit-derived type of Ethyl Acetate to extract the caffeine from the green coffee. The Ethyl Acetate process is this case performed in Germany by the decaffeinator Coffein who brands their own process …presumably because they think they do a better job than others. One thing for sure, any decaffeination performed in Germany is done under the strictest regulations in the world ...in terms of environmental impact, plant safety and highest standards for the coffee itself. This cup really retains all the strenghts of the the non-decaf Sumatra cup; great body, nice earthy-woody flavors, low-acidity, long mild aftertaste.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.0
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.0
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.0 Roast: Full City or City. Roast it to your preference. It can be roasted to Vienna or full french if desired: this coffee has a very wide latitude in terms of roast!
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 84.5 Compare to: Sumatra Mandheling, or Sulawesi

Sumatra Organic Gayo Mountain DP - Grade 1
Country: Sumatra Grade: 1 Region: Gayo Mark: Gayo Mountain Mill, Organic Cert.
Processing: Dry-processed (actually, semi-dry) Crop: January 2005 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Gayo Mountain is a distinct cooperative mill, and is not the same as Gayoland... Gayo Mountain is unique because the same company that own the mill also imports the coffee, so the process is controlled from the mill to the cup by one overseer. Also, Gayo Mountain produces a range of coffees from fully-washed Sumatra (a very odd experience and not one I can offer you at this time based on my cupping results) and non-Organic lots. 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 pachment 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 a traditional, full-bore Sumatra. This coffee is earthy, mossy ... that is different than dirty. Good earthy to me is the smell of rich wet humus; bad earthy is like eating a mouthful of dirt. The other problem with bad Sumatra coffees is a mustiness that falls into the mold/mildew category. At the same cupping where I found this lot I had another 6 similar coffees from the region, and one of those was another lot guilty of that moldy taint. But here we have the neotypical Sumatra "natural" coffee. It is deep as the night, potent, darkly fruited, low-toned, intense. The body is syrupy thick, and it has a husky sorghum sweetness in the cup. This lot was unique among the Organic and non-Organic samples I cupped from the mill, with greater complexity and a deeply fruited cup.
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: Bold intensity/Heavy body and strong "natural" Sumatra character - wet earth, dark fruit
add 50 50 Roast: I like the City+ to Full City+ - this coffee has deep, dark character that some associate wioth 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: Intense natural Sumatra coffees.

Aged Sumatra Update As you may know, we have had some very nice Aged Sumatras in the past. These are not simply old coffees, they are carefully and intentionally aged at origin to produce a smokey, thick cup profile. A good Aged coffee actually has a dark, rustic sweetness to the finish. Unfortunately, some can be quite bad, with harsh rubbery aromatics and very bad cup flavors. We sold out of our delicious Aged Lintong, and at this writing, there is only some very poor lots available, which I refuse to buy. I will be on the lookout for anything upcoming though... Tom 3/05
Aged Sumatra Lintong
Country: Sumatra Grade: One Region: Lintong Mark:  
Processing: Semi-wet process, Aged 3 years at origin Crop: 99-2000 Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Sumatra Arabica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a aged coffee that originated with '99-'00 crop Lintong Grade One and was held in Sumatra 3 years for the aging process. Aged coffees are not simply old coffee! You can't just put some green coffee in your basement for 3 years and end up with aged coffee (although its fun to see what you get -other than moldy coffee!) The process has to occur in a controlled environment in the country of origin with appropriate climate to prevent the coffee from drying out. The bags are turned and rotated in their stacks every so often, and the rebagged before shipping. It costs a lot to hold onto a stock of coffee like this, and the final results can be disastrous! The coffee can be ruined at any point along the way, and result in a total loss. I have cupped terrible Aged coffees that someone is attempting to pass off (with little luck). This Aged Lintong is a really, really nice lot, and to my mind strikes a balance between the two cup profiles of Aged coffees we have stocked. On the one hand we have mildly Aged flavors that are not that far from a very earthy, very funky non-aged Sumatra. On the other we have deeply aged coffees that have no sweetness remaining, are low in aromatics but have full-on smoky, biting Aged character. But here we have a lot that is both loaded with aged character, AND has sweetness. Even more than that, there is a wonderful finish to the cup, a molasses-sorghum syrup sweetness, a deeply caramelized (not burned) sweetness that is very special. The sophistication of the finish and aftertaste of this cup really sets it apart. The body in this cup is rather slight for the first 48 hours after roasting and then comes up immensely. I cupped some after 5 days and couldn't believe how the coffee balanced out, and the body was so huge. Even the 2 people here who dislike aged coffees really responded to this cup after the couple days of additional resting time.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: Full City. I like this roasted a few snaps into second crack, or a tad darker for espresso uses. This coffee gets smoother and more sophisticated as it rests. Give it 48-72 hours If you are a BBQ roast enthusiast or have heat control, use a low initial heat when the coffee hits the roast chamber/drum, and raise it progressively.
add 50 50 Compare to: Complex, low acid, deep, brooding cup profile.
Score (Max. 100) 86.4 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Body, smokey, woody
 

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