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Guatemala

Guatemala Huehuetenango - Finca San Vicente
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango Mark: Finca San Vicente
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: 07 crop, January 2008 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Bourbon Varietal
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: San Vicente estate is located in the Cuchumatanes mountain range of Huehuetenango, in a microclimate near La Libertad. The farm is quite small by "estate" standards; 100 Hectares of coffee and 50 Hectares of forest preserve, at 1300 to 1600 meters in altitude. The microregion has some special climactic conditions with higher humidity than other coffee regions in Huehuetenango. The area is topographically rugged, very steep, has clay soils. Other factors that influence the cup are the cultivar: while the farm has Catuai and Caturra cultivars, this lot is exclusively the traditional Bourbon varietal, and is from the higher altitudes on the farm. The result is a very hard bean coffee, physically dense, from slower/later-maturing trees. All this is great pedigree for cup quality. You can observe the density of the coffee by checking the amount the "crease" in the coffee opens during roasting, and ancillary cracks that come off of it. A more open crease with offshooting cracks means softer, lower-grown coffees. Compare a San Vicente seed to an origin that has lower altitudes, like Brazil, or an Island coffee... interesting! Now, add to the density and altitude a special preparation ... and you get a nice cup. We bought this lot at late harvest and saved it for January, at a time when new crop Guatemalas are months away, and a good "hard bean" coffee like this holds it's character like the day it arrived. It is a very clean cup, sharply aromatic, and a cup profile that (more than any other coffee I can recall) tastes like the cultivar - like Bourbon coffee. (BTW, this is pronounced bur-bone for the island off Africa, not like the alcohol). It's what people in coffee called "good transparency" and in wine they talk about "terroir" - tasting the soil, the varietal, the beverage as a pure result of the place it came from. The grounds are caramel-vanilla in sweetness, without fruitiness; crisp and chocolatey at FC roast. The cup has true Bourbon character, classic Guatemala balance, well defined and creamy milk chocolate, zesty brightness with just a bit of lemon acidity, chocolate bisquit and a very cleanly disappearing finish.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Extremely clean, balanced, "Bourbon" character  
add 50 50 Roast: City + to Full City. This very dense Bourbon seed keeps it's compact form in the roast.
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: Truly a classic Guatemala cup profile; very traditional.

Guatemala Antigua -Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Antigua, Sacatepequez Department Mark: Finca Retana, Rainforest Alliance Certified
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Yellow Bourbon cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Finca Retana is a well-regarded true Estate coffee from the Antigua valley in Guatemala. While they grow a majority of Catuai and Caturra cultivar coffee, they have a plot of pure Yellow Bourbon coffee with unique cup character, and we have been able to buy the entire output. Bourbon is the traditional cultivar named after the French colonial island of Bourbon (and the royal House of Bourbon), now the independent Reunion Island. The cultivar has classic flavor properties, and this is the variant that ripens to a golden yellow color, not the typical red coffee fruit. This is one of the brighter, more crisp coffees you will find from Antigua, hinting at superior altitude and at the Yellow Bourbon cultivar. It's clean, with piquant spice notes that don't distract from the well-structured sweet/bittersweet underlying flavor. The fragrance is sweet with an overal nut tonality; honeyed almond. Add hot water and the aromatics sweeten even more, with juicy (pear, white grape) essence. There is a white grape juice fruit, cleanly fading into a floral, honey-like finish. Pear, white peach and melon suggestions are there too, a classic Central profile with a very focused, clean flavor profile. In the C+ roast sample, I even get a hint of banana taffy, but perhaps my mind has keyed in too much on the YELLOW in the name here (hey, it can happen to the best of us.) It roasts very evenly, and maintains it's compact form (something we can attribute to cultivar and to the high elevation of Finca Retana - this coffee is grown at over 5000 feet). It has actually been a fairly good year for Antiguas for the '07 crop, all of them a bit brighter than recent years. But when I put them up against this Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon they paled in comparison! Antiguas have a price premium attached to them, especially these single-farm (not pooled-lot, mill-branded ...which many are) , Antigua-certified coffees. And I had to pay up for the separation of the Yellow Bourbon of course, so you notice La Minita - level pricing here, but this cup definitely deserves it!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ balance, structure, classic flavor profile  guat
add 50 50 Roast: I prefer the fruited tones and nut flavors of the C+ roast, but it holds up well to a wide range of roast interpretation.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Classic, sweet, clean Guatemala

Guatemala - Finca San José Ocaña
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB, Strictly Hard Bean Region: San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala Mark: Estate: San Jose Ocaña
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, some Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: We offered this coffee last year ... but I just didn't know it. Funny how things work in the coffee world ... the exporter had put their own "brand" name on the bags, "Blue Quetzal", rather than the farm name, San Jose Ocana. The farm is from an original land grant of 1623, and the owners have now grown coffee here for 5 generations! The odd thing is, I have been trying to buy this Finca San Jose coffee for a couple years, but it usually was pre-sold to Europe or Japan. A broker offered me "Blue Quetzal" and I loved it, fully recognizing the similarity, the classic Bourbon-like cup character that was reminicent of the San Jose samples I had cupped. So it was more than uncanny similarity, I now know. And as a confirmation of the great cup quality (not that it is needed here but ...) this farm won #2 spot in the 2007 Guatemala Cup of Excellence. So we offer this coffee with a twisted tale behind it, but the core facts are the same: I have been trying to buy this lot for years, and it's one of my favorite Guatemala coffees, ever. Even watching this beautiful coffee roast gets me going, small, dense little seeds that almost seem to shrink like raisins, the creases deepending and darkening, before it reaches Full City roast. That compact form, tight crease, and resistence to expansion hints at Bourbon cultivar, and slow, steady maturation on the tree. That's what happens when you grow coffee way up at 1900 meters! (I noted that the coffee is purported to have Catuai cutlivar too, but apparently in a small percentage). I found this coffee has a very wide range of roasts that have great results, from a light City roast through Full City +. It's a very high-grown, dense seed (I think Bourbon cultivar also has greater denisity than other types, which greatly improve the way the coffee absorbs and distributes heat in the roast chamber). The lighter roasts have a punctuated fruitiness to them, bright tannic grape, floral aromatics, and sweet malt syrup roast taste. I really enjoyed watching this coffee take on a bit more color, passing into the Full City range, but not into 2nd crack at all. Here there is a unique balance between chocolate, toffee and raisin sweetness, with clove spice hints, concord grape, berry, and a floral flavor (I know, we don't eat/drink flowers for the most part, but the finish has a strong floral, almost rose-like aspect to it, like a potpourri). Anyway, as a cupper, this coffee exudes immense cup quality, as a roaster you can see that dense, tight-fisted little bean take on heat and color just beautifully, and as a guy who just likes a great cup of coffee, this is one I take home on the weekend.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Extraordinary aromatics, sweetness, complexity.  
add 50 50 Roast: City - City +: The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter. At this lighter level, the coffee won't look as pretty as it does at FC+, more surface texture and patchy coloration.
Score (Max. 100) 89.3 Compare to: Classsic super-high grown Guatemala. It reminds me of the El Injerto pure Bourbon.

Guatemala Huehuetenango WP Decaf
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: La Democracia area,
Huehuetenango
Mark: Huehuetenango
Processing: Wet-Process, then water process decaf Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Catuai, Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: The advantage of knowing exactly what coffee goes into your decaf is great, and surprisingly rare because a lot of decafs are sold simply with an origin name, and not even a regional designation to boot. But with this Guatemalan we know the farm, El Injertal in Huehuetenango, and the specific cup profile before sent for decaffeination. More remarkable is the cup after decaffeinating. It's really outstanding, especially in the livliness of the hight tones in the cup at City+ roast. I am astounded and a little bewildered by this: I regularly cupped the Central American coffees that had undergone the SWP process in Vancouver, Canada. They had little to no brightness of the original coffee in the cup, and since that's what Centrals are about, no brightness means no origin character (well... it means a huge part of what the Guatemalan coffee is about has been removed. Props to SWP who has made great strides forward in improving technique in the last 2 years too, and recently opened a new production line for smaller decaf batches with good results.) This is not from Swiss Water, it is from the plant that uses a non-contact water method of treatment in Mexico ... what we refer to as WP on our list since no Swiss were involved (joke, but true I am sure). Here we have a cup with remarkable brightness intact after the decaf process. And it is a non-contact, non-chemical water process decaf to boot.The dry fragrance has apple ester notes and hazelnut. Sometimes this fruitiness is the result of the decaf process, and shouldn't be there in the aromatics, but in this case it is from the coffee: it comes through in the wet aromatics too. In addition, the aroma is very sweet, and in the cup flavors the theme is continued ... classic cup character tinted with fruit and nut accents. I get a slight raspberry note in the City+ roast, and overall the character is bright, lively and high-toned. The aftertaste is brief, clean and pleasant, while the body is, as with most nice Guatemala coffees, light-to-medium. Overall, this cup echoes perfectly it's non-decaf counterpoint, and has good Huehuetenango origin character.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0.5 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Good brightness, fruit and nut notes  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ is the most lively, Full City and darker have good tangy chocolate notes.
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: Non-decaf Huehuetenago lots.

Guatemala Acatenango Gesha
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Acatenango Mark:  
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Gesha Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.2 Notes: This cup is Gesha all the way; like sipping a bouquet of flowers! If you don't know the story of the Gesha cultivar, it is an old coffee type from Ethiopia that was brought to an experimental coffee garden in Costa Rica years ago as a specimen sample. It was distributed to a few farms for testing on small plots, but not much was thought of it until one of these, Esmeralda in Panama, separated it from the other cultivars and entered it in the national competition. It was so outrageously different, with fruited and floral character like a Yirgacheffe coffee from half a world away. Now that the word is out, other small farms that received some of the seed have tried to separate their Gesha coffee as well, as is the case here. The results are always a bit different: the cultivar "expresses" itself differently in terms of cup flavors at each location, influenced by weather, soil, altitude and the like. With this coffee, from the region of Acatenango, we have a Gesha cup that literally shouts out "GESHA!" at every step of the way. It has the elongated seed form, it roasts like Gesha, and has the fantastic, pronounced cup character. The dry fragrance can be detected from across my cupping room, so strong is the sweet hibiscus, passionfruit, and lightly toasted hazelnut. To fully appreciate the aromatic dynamism here, cup this along with your favorite non-gesha Central - wow. The cup might, initially, seem mild compared to these strong aromatics. Give it time to cool a bit, as the floral and fruited notes ascend as the temperature descends. The floral character is , once again, like hibiscus flower essence, married to an assembly of tropical fruit flavors. These fruit notes have cherry, sweet flame grape, passionfruit, mango, jackfruit. The list could go on, since each time I cup it, and at different temerpatures, I get new fruited (and floral) notes out of this coffee. I guess that would be the very definition of complexity, this multi-dimensional flavor profile. The finish is so sweet, and in the long aftertaste there is a macademia nut hint. Simply put, this is a very exotic cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/great balance, spice notes.  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy chocolate intensity.
Score (Max. 100) 91.5 Compare to: Excellent, spicey Guatemalan cup character, with balance, and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, apple note.

Guatemala FTO Huehuetenango -Asobagri Coop
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Barillas, Huehuetenango Mark: Asobagri Coop, Fair Trade and Organic Cert.s
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica, Catuai, Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: This coffee comes from the 500 member/farmers of the Asobagri Co-op based in the town of Barillas, in the north of the Huehuetenango Department, Guatemala. The members are primarily Kanjobal Mayan people. Each farmer belongs to a micro-coop of 10-25 members and they collectively wet-mill their own coffee to exacting standards taught by the co-op via technical volunteers. The organization is very sophisticated and successful to take the place of technified/centralized wet-milling, and result in such an excellent top-quality cup. I visited this coop and toured the region a while back, spending time with the small farmer group of La Esperanza (which was not much more than an extended family and a tiny pueblo of 20 houses). To see their small production, hand-pulping and tiny drying patios and realize they can produce this kind of cup quality to rival large "Estate" farms is remarkable. The coffee is a fruitier Huehuetenango than the others we will offer this year. In fact, we haven't offered Asobagri for a few years because I find mixed quality on some lots. But with this particular lot I found the cup profile we used to get: fruited, but not fruity-fermenty. The fragrance has tropical fruit notes (mango, and passionfruit). These come through in the wet aromatics too, and the cup flavors. There is the flavor of the coffee fruit itself, with soft spice accents of cardamom and fresh ginger. The body is very silky. The acidity is fairly mild, but provides enough brightness to give this coffee some spring in its step. Aftertaste has mango and mild chocolate, and the satiny body provides a very nice final impression of the cup character. (+1 cupper correction)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/Nice fruited notes, body, balance  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have better bright fruited notes.
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Excellent, fruited Guatemala cup.

Guatemala Fraijanes - Finca Agua Tibia
Country: Guatemala Grade: SHB Region: Fraijanes Mark: Agua Tibia Farm (Finca)
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Bourbon, Typica (Old-Growth)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Finca Agua Tibia is a 150 year old farm located quite near Guatemala City in the Fraijanes region. In the past, Fraijanes was compared often to the high price coffees from the generally overrated region of Antigua. After all, Fraijanes is about the same distance from the capital as Antigua in the opposite direction. But the fact is, Fraijanes coffees have their own unique character, and some of that potential is just starting to be realized. Finca Agua Tibia (it literally means Farm of Lukewarm Water - sounds better in Spanish, eh?) is located at 5000 feet altitude, and the majority of the coffee land is planted in old growth Bourbon and Typica cultivar. It is a diverse farm, with a dairy, and ornamental plant nursery, and in fact 75% of the land is set aside as nature preserve. It's an amazing place (if you see my Guatemala travelogues, I have many photos from the farm). I have cupped this coffee before, and always had respect for it's fine balance; it struck me as a perfect example of neotypical Guatemalan cup profile. And in fact it seemed to be a more interesting cup, and have greater flavor attributes, than most Antiguas I had cupped. This crop year, the coffee seems to be extra nice ... more than just and Antigua comparable. I get clean bittersweet chocolate roast notes, aromatic cedar in the finish, and warming spice throughout. At a relatively light City+ roast, where some rough surface texture still exists on the bean, this cups out like a darker roast; pungent, and zesty chocolate bittersweets. I like that, because at this roast level it still has a very lively and bright cup too, things I value highly in a good high grown coffee. There are a lot of spicy notes in the cup: clove, nutmeg, mulling spice. Along with the apple hint, this makes for a real "hot apple cider" effect, passing through into the long aftertaste. I really love this farm, and I think this new crop lot is the best I have cupped from them.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/great balance, spice notes.  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City is recommended, although I find the C+ roast to have very , tangy chocolate intensity.
Score (Max. 100) 87.5 Compare to: Excellent, spicy Guatemalan cup character, with balance, and fine bittersweet chocolate flavors, apple note.

Hawaii 

Hawaii Ka'u Dry-Process NanoLot (Will & Grace Farm)
Notes: Ka'u Full Natural is decidedly fruity, in the scent of the green coffee, in the fragrance and wet aromatics. It's a completely different cup than the other lots. At City+ is has strong, sweet, sticky fruit flavors, and more body than the other lots. This is the most intense and distinct coffee you will get out of Hawaii, but if fruit is not your thing, you might want to stick to the classic flavors of the wet-process lot. This is the smallest lot of the three, a microscopic lot!
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Intense Fruits

Score (Max. 100) : 88.7

Roast: City+ To FC+. I enjoyed the intense fruits of C+ roast. but also the fruit and chocolate of FC+
Compare to: Heavily fruited coffees, such as some of the wacky Central America naturals we are getting this year (Don Pepe Panama, Mexico Nayarit Dry-Process, El Salvador Natural -coming soon).

Hawaii Ka'u Pulp Natural NanoLot (Will & Grace Farm)
Notes: The Ka'u Pulp Natural Nano-Lot from Will and Grace farm is the sweetest of the three. The caveat is that the sweetness turns to pungent roast flavor failry early, at Full City roast, well before 2nd crack. These sharper roast notes are nice, but I greatly prefer the lighter roast here. Keep it at City to City+ and you have the winning lot!
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Sweet, sweet, sweet
 Score (Max. 100) : 89.6

Roast: City to City+ . I found that FC+ turns pungent quickly, so we recommend keeping it light.
Compare to: Kona, of course. This was the lot that was reviewed at 92+ points at coffeereview. If you want to get this great coffee already roasted, check out ParadiseRoasters.com.

Hawaii Kowali Blue Mountain (JBM Cultivar)
Country: U.S.A Grade: XF and F Region: Hawaii, Big Island, Kona, Honaunau district Mark: Kowali Farm 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2007 arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Jamaica Blue Mountain Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Kona Coffee is grown only in the district of Kona on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. While coffee is also grown in other districts and on other islands, it does not develop the same flavors nor receive the same attention in the process as true small-farm Kona coffees. Kowali (which means Morning Glory in Hawaiian) is a smaller, more remote Kona farm with the right kind of altitude to produce exceptional Kona coffee. This coffee is grown by Skip and Rita Cowell on their 12 acre Kona farm, up an old-time coffee road winding along the steep hillsides of Honaunau in Southern Kona. It has been consistently acclaimed one of the top 10 coffees in Kona, and in fact received an honorable mention in the Kona Coffee Competition. "The funny thing about that," Rita told me, "is that I didn't enter the competition!" The Cowell farm is grown on carefully tended land, using no pesticides and 100% hand picked. In 1998 the farm was recognized by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District as the co-operator of the year for continuing conservation practices. Skip is an expert in this area and lectures on Soil Conservation at mainland conferences. In terms of cup character, the coffee reflects the Kona heritage but with a twist: this is pure Jamaica Blue Mountain seedstock that was obtained through the University of Hawaii coffee nursery as an experiment. The result is a very Hawaiian cup character overall (similar to the Guatemala-derived Typica planted on most of the small farms), but with a very rounded cup profile. I am impressed with the density of the mouthfeel here, which gives that rounded, weighty sense of body. The preparation of this lot is a little less ideal than our earlier Typica lot, which was zero defect. But I didn't find any problem in the cup with the few odd looking seeds I found in my green sample. In fact I feel the KBM has more character than most Kona small farm coffees. Aromatically there are floral traces, while in the cup I find mild suggestions of Papaya and Mango. There is a spiciness here that reminds me most of ginger root. There is a lightly caramelized sweetness, with a slight mollases syrup tone, and (again) fresh ginger in the finish.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / dense body, spice
Roast: C+ to FC: I find this coffee more intense at C+ (review comments are based on C+ roast) , and while an FC+ with just a hint of 2nd crack was nice, it was not the roast with most Kona character, for me.  
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Quite similar to top tier Kona coffees, but with added ginger zest and rounded cup profile. This is a very small lot, so the limit is 1 Lb. per customer please - let's spread it around!
Score (Max. 100) 87.3

Hawaii Kona - Greenwell Extra Fancy
Country: US Grade: Extra Fancy Region: Hawaii, Captain Cook, Kona Mark: Greenwell Farms
Processing: Wet=Process Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18+ screen Varietal: Kona Typica (Guatemala-derived)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Greenwell Farms is more of a coffee mill than a farm. They are one of the old coffee families on the Big Island, and they still have trees of their own, but they save all that for their own roasting operation. What they do is buy local coffee cherry from all the small producers in the Captain Cook area, wet-process it, dry it, mill it, and offer it under their brand. It's difficult to know exactly where the coffee is from, except that Greenwell seems to be very good at buying quality red, ripe cherry, and has some of the best milling practices in Kona. They know what they're doing. So this makes buying Greenwell a bit hit or miss, you just have to cup the lots and hope for something good. And that's why you see it on our offer list every 2nd or third year. It just depends on what samples I see and how they cup. Well, this time around it's a very early offering, early December rather than January or February, and this particular lot is outstanding (and unfortunately, about $2 more per lb. than Kona last year). But I am a chump for a good coffee, and I have to offer this lot anyway ... $2 more is just pennies a cup anyway, or one mediocre to-go coffee from *bucks! This cup has a sweet dry fragrance, with a hint of malt-o-meal hot cereal, and mildly floral. It really opens up when you add hot water, with more pronounced floral tones, caramel cookie, sweet malt grain. At City+ roast this cup has a bright, lively tea-like floral note, a tad of jasmine and bergamot. Roast flavors become more sharp, almost minty, at FC+. Both roasts are excellent, and have a sweet and savory flavor profile.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balanced, good aroma, mild  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ through FC+ produced really nice cups, with a more minty roast flavor at FC+, sweet grain at C+.
Score (Max. 100) 87 Compare to: Clean, mild, floral Kona - one of the best early crop lots in recent memory.

Hawaiian Kona - Kowali Typica XF
Country: U.S.A Grade: XF (Extra Fancy) Region: Hawaii, Big Island, Kona, Honaunau district Mark: Kowali Farm 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: June 2007 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 19 Screen Varietal: Kona Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Kona Coffee is grown only in the district of Kona on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. While coffee is also grown in other districts and on other islands, it does not develop the same flavors nor receive the same attention in the process as true small-farm Kona coffees. Kowali (which means Morning Glory in Hawaiian) is a smaller, more remote Kona farm with the right kind of altitude to produce exceptional Kona coffee. This coffee is grown by Skip and Rita Cowell on their 12 acre Kona farm, up an old-time coffee road winding along the steep hillsides of Honaunau in Southern Kona. It has been consistently acclaimed one of the top 10 coffees in Kona, and in fact received an honorable mention in the Kona Coffee Competition. "The funny thing about that," Rita told me, "is that I didn't enter the competition!" The Cowell farm is grown on carefully tended land, using no pesticides and 100% hand picked. In 1998 the farm was recognized by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District as the co-operator of the year for continuing conservation practices. Skip is an expert in this area and lectures on Soil Conservation at mainland conferences. In terms of cup character, the coffee reflects the Kona heritage (this is 100% Kona Typica, which was brought from Guatemala in the '20s) and the altitude. This cup is a classic Kona in all respects, with a big, sweet flavor that somehow matches the immense blue-green appearance of the coffee seeds. The body is silky, and (oh it sounds like a cliche, but I must use it) ... smooth! It really is! It has the brightness that is lacking in so many low-grown Hawaiian coffees, and a floral aromatic accent to the cup. Earlier this season, I prefered an FC roast on this coffee, but with this micro-lot I found a real "sweet spot" at City+.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Classic Kona Typica character: silky body, clean, floral brightness
Roast: C+ : I like a lighter roast, ceasing the heat with no sign of 2nd crack on the horizon, right when the texture of the seed surface becomes smooth, even brown. You can also get a nice cup just a few snaps of second (FC+), but I find it takes a longer time in most roasters to achieve this level of roast. Set the roaster at a high number and roast manually.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Sweet, juicy, classic Kona cup character, accented with bright floral notes. A luscious and attractive cup.
Score (Max. 100) 87.9

Hawaiian Kona -Moki's Farm
Country: Hawaii, U.S. Grade: Estate Grade
(F and XF)
Island: Big Island Mark:

Moki's Farm:
The Rittenhouse Family

Processing: Wet Process Crop: March 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ scr Varietal: Kona Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Moki’s Farm is near the town of Captain Cook on the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii. At 2000 ft, is a “mauka farm”, located on the upper or mountain side of the highway that transects the Kona coffee belt. The elevation at Moki’s assures the ideal amount of rain to water the coffee and sun to ripen and later dry the coffee while volcanic soils nurtures the coffee trees and provide great drainage for the roots. It has been a small privately owned family operated coffee farm for over 100 years. Unfortunately the widower of the coffee farmer was not able to maintain the farm and during the late 1980s and 90s the farm suffered from neglect. In January of 2000, Vivian and Roger Rittenhouse purchased the farm realizing their dream to own property in Hawaii and become part of its diverse culture and economy. Because of the condition of the farm and trees at the time of purchase, the Rittenhouses made the difficult decision to remove most of the existing trees and replant. They were however, able to save approximately 50 trees that are 100 years old, to use as seedstock into the future. Roger's coffee is extremely well prepared, showing care in harvest and milling of the coffee. I became aware of this very small farm (just 2.1 acres) at the 2004 Kona Cupping Competition. It was a personal favorite, and upon returning to the mainland I contacted Roger to see if he was interested in offering us green coffee. We have been working together on shipping small lots of his coffee to California as they become "mature" (fully rested in parchment down to 12% moisture or less). It' s a bit pricey to deal with these small amounts, and ship a little at a time, but I cup each lot Roger sends and am really impressed with the consistent high quality. I guess that's why Moki's was the #2 coffee at the competition in 04, and has had honorable mentions previously, and why in each round of the competition I scored this coffee consistently high. In 2005, the crop matured late in the Moki's area, and it wasn't really ready for the competition. This is a problem with events like this; some farms suffer because the cupping is held too early in the crop cycle. Now, Moki's has hit it's peak in terms of cup quality, and I find this year's lots to be more floral in the aromatics. The cup is mild, with soft, thick body and a very "round" mouthfeel. It's almost waxy in the way that walnut or macademia nut are waxy, and in fact the lipids in coffee contribute to this sensation as they do with nuts. There are floral and spice hints in the cup, and, for a Kona, some bright sparkle of acidity here which indicates the higher elevation of the farm compared to many other Kona coffees.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.5
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: I like City+ roast, and a good 48 hour rest on this coffee. Many people like a heavier roast on Konas. Actually, a Vienna roast is a pretty neat cup and I am very impressed with the single-Estate espresso I get from a Full City+ roast of this coffee.
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Balance, subtlety
Score (Max. 100) 86.8 Compare to: Estate grade Kona from one of the higher elevation farms.

Hawaiian Kona - Kowali Blue Mountain
Country: U.S.A Grade: XF and F Region: Hawaii, Big Island, Kona, Honaunau district Mark: Kowali Farm 
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: March 2007 arrival Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen Varietal: Jamaica Blue Mountain Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: Kona Coffee is grown only in the district of Kona on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. While coffee is also grown in other districts and on other islands, it does not develop the same flavors nor receive the same attention in the process as true small-farm Kona coffees. Kowali (which means Morning Glory in Hawaiian) is a smaller, more remote Kona farm with the right kind of altitude to produce exceptional Kona coffee. This coffee is grown by Skip and Rita Cowell on their 12 acre Kona farm, up an old-time coffee road winding along the steep hillsides of Honaunau in Southern Kona. It has been consistently acclaimed one of the top 10 coffees in Kona, and in fact received an honorable mention in the Kona Coffee Competition. "The funny thing about that," Rita told me, "is that I didn't enter the competition!" The Cowell farm is grown on carefully tended land, using no pesticides and 100% hand picked. In 1998 the farm was recognized by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District as the co-operator of the year for continuing conservation practices. Skip is an expert in this area and lectures on Soil Conservation at mainland conferences. In terms of cup character, the coffee reflects the Kona heritage but with a twist: this is pure Jamaica Blue Mountain seedstock that was obtained through the University of Hawaii coffee nursery as an experiment. The result is a very Hawaiian cup character overall (similar to the Guatemala-derived Typica planted on most of the small farms), but with a very rounded cup profile. I am impressed with the density of the mouthfeel here, which gives that rounded, weighty sense of body. The preparation of this lot is a little less ideal than our earlier Typica lot, which was zero defect. But I didn't find any problem in the cup with the few odd looking seeds I found in my green sample. In fact I feel the KBM has more character than most Kona small farm coffees. Aromatically there are floral traces, while in the cup I find mild suggestions of Papaya and Mango. There is a spiciness here that reminds me most of ginger root. There is a lightly caramelized sweetness, with a slight mollases syrup tone, and (again) fresh ginger in the finish.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.5
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / dense body, spice
Roast: C+ to FC: I find this coffee more intense at C+ (review comments are based on C+ roast) , and while an FC+ with just a hint of 2nd crack was nice, it was not the roast with most Kona character, for me.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Quite similar to top tier Kona coffees, but with added ginger zest and rounded cup profile. This is a very small lot, so the limit is 1 Lb. per customer please - let's spread it around!
Score (Max. 100) 87.3

Hawaiian Kona -Purple Mountain Farm
Country: Hawaii, U.S. Grade: XF/F 18-19+ screen Island: Kona, Big Island Mark: Purple Mountain Farm;
The Stiles Family
Processing: Wet Process Crop: Feb 2007 Arrival Appearance: 1 d/300gr Varietal: Kona Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.1 Notes: This is a coffee that is uniquely Kona, distinct from any other coffee origin in the world. There are flavors very specific to Kona coffees grown on the handful of farms that actually have the right altitude and the right soils to grow coffee that demands the premium Kona price. The biggest problem with Hawaiian island coffee is not that these few small-farm Konas command a high price, it's that alot of poor quality coffees and non-Kona coffees are priced according to the reputation of the deserving ones. Some excellent Konas are sold directly by the mills in Kona and they can be quite good too, but they vary to a greater degree than actual farm-specific lots. Judging by the cup, Purple Mountain immediately struck me as the kind of coffee that is first tier Kona, where the coffee is clearly farmed for quality and not quantity, and the altitude is clearly there. In fact, at 2000 feet in the well-drained volcanic soils of Honaunau region of Kona, and the farm has certainly hit its stride in this their 25th year. The coffee is pesticide-free (not organic certified but all by all measures they practice organic farming), hand-picked and totally sun-dried. The farm is limited to 8 acres, and the Stiles family that own and farm it are active participants in the Kona cupping competitions. The coffee is expertly milled by the well-known Tom Greenwell of Greenwell Farms, but there can be an occasional broken bean, or partial defect bean in this coffee. Remove this before roasting for the best cup results. The cup ... The KPM has a sweet, soft aroma with a hint of jasmine in some cups, and aromatic woody notes. The cup has nice body, a little creamy, and a clean sweet snap to the cup right off the bat. Initially, the dry grounds have macademia nut and vanilla touches, and these come through as in the flavor too, as the cup cools down. With the lighter roast (City) the acidity is mildly citric, and the roast taste is malty-barley, but the finish is a little tight; astringent. City roast is NOT what I prefer with the KPM: Of all Konas, I chose Purple Mountain if I want to do a FC+ roast - it has a nice, bittersweet roast taste at that level with no loss in body, and perhaps greater dark roast intensity than the other Konas. (But remember, Konas, even the best, are all low grown relative to other coffee origins, and have a very mild cup character.)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Roast: I found that Purple Mountian has unique character at a darker Full City/ Full City + roast: it is my favorite Kona for a darker roast treatment.
add 50 50 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium / Balance, Darker roast notes.
Score (Max. 100) 85.2 Compare to: Classic, small farm Kona. This can make great single-origin espresso at a Full City roast or a bit darker!


Honduras 

Honduras FTO San Marcos - Cocosam Coop
Country: Costa Rica Grade: SHB Region: San Marcos de Colon,Marcala, West Central Honduras Mark: Fair Trade and Organic Certified, Cocosam Coop
Processing: Wet - process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 PB Screen Varietal: Caturra, Bourbon Catuai
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Honduras has great coffee ... the problem can often be getting it out of the country in good shape, and getting it shipped here promptly. It's ironic that one of the closest coffee origins to the US is one of the hardest in terms of logisitcs. Honduras has a long history of growing cheap arabica for quantity and price, not cup quality. All that is really changing due to the great efforts of NGO organizations, the Honduran government and the various quality initiatives such as Cup of Excellence. Here we have some of the results: a crisp, flavorful cup, light bodied and lively. This lot is produced by a co-op called COCOSAM (Cooperativa Cafetelera Sanmarquena) from the southwestern corner of Honduras. And the cup? There is an herbal-spice scent with anise and sasparilla character, and an aromatic wood suggestion, like cedar bark. The fragrance from the dry grounds and wet aroma are similar, and give a good sense of the cup flavors. The cup has an overall nutty tone (almond and almond skins), and silky mouthfeel ... for a Honduran coffee in particular. It has crisp brightness too, a red apple acidity. In the finish there's also a cocoa powder flavor, not overly sweet, but quite clearly defined. The nice tamarind note, cocoa, almond skin give the cup a slight rustic periphery, but the core flavor aspects are classic, delicate Central flavors all the way. Take it a bit darker (FC+) and the cup has a dark chocolate character with some nice fruited notes.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Nut tones, apple brightness, spice aroma.  
add 50 50 Roast: C+ is the roast I describe above. My FC+ roast was nice, much more cocoa and chocolate than the C+.
Score (Max. 100) 85.9 Compare to: Mild, crisp and flavorful Central.

Honduras Pacamara -Santa Marta Estate
Country: Honduras Grade: SHB Region:
Yoro,
Montana el Pijol Range  
Mark: Santa Marta Estate
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: August 2006 Arrival Appearance: 2 d/300gr, 18-20 Screen Varietal: 100% Pacamara
(Pacas x Maragogype cross)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: I visited this farm in April this year to check out their coffee. It is run my Munir Hawat, Santa Marta was actually the winning coffee in the 2006 Honduras Cup of Excellence; it was their Pacamara that really impressed at the competition. This is not the CoE lot, and frankly it is not as well prepared as that prize winning lot, but it did originate with the same coffee. I found a small percentage of defects in the coffee, which is mostly due to the fact that the large Pacamara tends to get nicked up in the pulping machine when they take the skin off it, before wet-process fermentation. The defect count totals 2, but i found no need to cull the green coffee before roasting. This coffee really has unique Pacamara character, but it is not for those who want a more traditional, typcial "clean and sweet" Central American cup profile. The dry fragrance is unusual: there is sweetness there, herbal sweetness, and cinnamon stick, but also an alfalfa-like note (an aromatic that raises red flags when I cup some coffees). But knowing this is a Pacamara cultivar, I not only expect some unusual green herbal/vegetal aromatics, I would worry if there wasn't some oddball, exotic aromatic there. Initially the cup seems like most good Centrals: sweet, good brightness, medium body, clean finish. But as it cools you really taste the Pacamara difference; in fact this is one of the few cases in coffee where cultivar can be sensed so clearly (as with Gesha/Geisha in Panama). There are unusual herbal notes, those hinted at in the fragrance and wet aromatics. There is also a distinct roast nut flavor, creamy and a bit drying ( like good roasted peanut). The coffee has a more rustic sweetness than it does when the cup is blazing hot. And I get a very clear, sweet, clean tobacco note in the aftertaste of the cooled coffee ... not a Sumatra-like rustic tobacco, not an earthy tobacco. And yet there is something rustic about this cup as it cools; aromtaic bark, cedar, cinnamon stick, sassafras.
Like much of the coffee in Honduras, Finca Santa Marta has extensive natural shade trees over the coffee. You can see the Pacamara trees directly behind me (with some white flowers!) but you would never guess that the ridge in the background is completely planted in coffee too - it looks like natural shaded forest.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild to Medium Intensity / Crisp, clean fruits and floral elements.
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City+; if your roaster has the ability to profile the roast, warm the coffee slowly and steadily to 1st crack, then slow the roast until FC, or FC+ (the verge of 2nd crack).
Score (Max. 100) 87.8 Compare to: A very refined Honduran cup profile; clean, clear, crisp.

India 

India Anohki Coffee (Liberica)
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Magundi, Chikmagalur, Karnataka State Mark: Anohki Liberica Forest Coffee
Processing: Pulped-Natural Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Coffea Liberica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes:"Anohki" means "unique, and you will know it is indeed unique as soon as you grind this; an explosive dry fragrance is released, loaded with fruit, and some distinctive notes that push the line between pain and pleasure. Think of exotic cheeses, beers made with wild yeast strains, over-the-top Syrahs. One thing for sure, you know when you taste this you are tasting a different species here! These liberica trees are huge, more than 20 feet tall with massive trunks (unlike the shrubby form of most arabica cultivars). Because tall ladders are used for harvest, the local custom is to only allow men to harvest this coffee. It is estate grown, and was basically reserved for local consumption, partly due to the very small amount of the total harvest. Perhaps we have a coffee-equivalent o f those other edgy, challenging, over-the-top foods and wines here, not for any particular reason but for the general fact that it challenges orthodox thinking of what a "good cup" is. Okay, what I mean to say is that, along with rustic blueberry I smell barnyard cowpies here. Seriously ... I don't know how else to describe it. I think of aged cheeses when I smell the dry aroma but I am not sure specifically why, perhaps simply as an analogy than any particular sensory reason. There's something naughty about the wet aromatic, one one hand so Harar-like, even a rough sweetness along with the fruitiness. But there's that difficult cowpie note, with suggestions of robusta smell. Of course, it's not robusta at all, and as distinct from robusta as it is from arabica. If your friends and loved ones haven't sought refuge in another room yet, it's time to invite them to the tasting. And this is where you might stop regretting that you bought a pricey coffee that stinks ... if your nose has adjusted to these smells then your palate will find the transition quite easy. And still, the cup is so different from anything else I have experienced; it really hits you like a ton of bricks. My preferred roast is far and away the City to City + range, where the fruit qualities, rustic blueberry, sweet tobacco, herbs and chocolate, are at their best. As I roast toward FC+, and a tad into 2nd crack, the coffee has a thick, opaque quality, overpowering, has lost some of the fruited qualities, and has a somewhat medicinal roast taste. There's a kind of tightness, and astringency here, that I don't like so much, whereas in the light roasts it comes off as a tea-like quality. There is certainly an unusual chocolate here, which reminds me a bit of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate. If there was such thing as Belgian Blueberry Stout, perhaps that would be the beer-world equivalent. After a long rest (like 5+days) the fruited notes become very licorice/anise-laced, and the overall impression is quite sweet! In all, I don't know if you will love this coffee or hate it. It's a challenging coffee to evaluate, to score (it's too funky and off-kilter to gain high numerical scores but I feel justified to add +5 cupper's correction for pure intrigue and uniqueness). I feel compelled to offer Anohki, because unlike Kopi Luwak (aka poop coffee) and other heavily hyped lots, Kopi Luwak is just a boring and bad cup, period. Anohki Liberica is an intense flavor experience. Here is a rare coffee available only in small amounts, and a totally unique experience (not a subtle one at that), and you won't forget this coffee.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 5 Intensity/Prime Attribute:Very Bold Intensity / Low-acidity, extreme and unusual cup flavors, difficult to rate, undoubtedly unique!   cfa
add 50 50 Roast:City to City+ is preferable in my opinion (see review), and a longer roast time helps moderate medicinal tones in the darker roasts. Note that the green coffee has a varied color appearance but roasts to a fairly even color despite this.
Score (Max. 100) 88.5 Compare to: If you combined a low acid, blueberry-laden harar with a natural robusta of high quality, you might approach this cup character, but it's really quite a unique (and challenging) cupping experience. Here are some pictures of the liberica coffee seed shape, and huge leaves!

India Mallali Estate "Tree-Dried Natural"
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Malnad, Hassan District, Karnataka Mark: Mallali Estate Tree-Dried
Processing: Tree-dried process Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Selection 795
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: The possibility of drying the coffee cherry on the tree (as opposed to picking it and then drying it on patios, screens, dryers, etc.) exists only in a few coffee-growing regions. I have seen this done in parts of Cerrado and South Minas Brazil, where a dramatic and severe dry season will turn the red coffee cherries to crimson purple, and then to a raisiny brown in a matter of days. In fact, low grade Brazils were often "strip-picked" indiscrimately, with each branch having a large amount of tree-dried cherry (but also more than a few under-ripes that ruin the cup!) There are experiments in El Salvador to intentionally do the same, to pick the coffee after it has dreid on the tree. But in most areas it is either not possible due to intermittent rains, or considered totally undesireable. After all, overripe coffee cherry results in fermenty cup flavors, wine vinegar notes. So why would you want to dry on the tree? Because, as far as rustic, full-body, low-acid coffees go, it produces the most intense cup, heavy body, loaded with rustic fruit and chocolate notes. The issue is this: if you selectively pick only tree-dry coffee, you have skipped the quality control steps of wet-processing that remove defective seeds. If you want tree-dried to cup uniformily good, now you have to employ a lot of people, not only to pick selectively and with care, but also to visually hand-sort all the coffee after hulling of the dried skin and parchment layers. And that is exactly the case with this Mallali Estate tree-dried coffee. And still this type of coffee is not for everyone, but for those who like low-acid, opaque, dense, fruited coffees ... the kind I always call "rustic." Mallali Estate is located on the slopes of the Western Ghats (Malnad or mountainous region), Hassan District, Karnataka, at 3300-3480 feet. (The western Ghats have been categorized as one of the 34 most biodiverse hotspots in the world in terms of flora and fauna. Mallali Estate neighbors the Bisle Reserve Forest which is home to many endemic and endangered species). The coffee has chocolate, nut and ripe fruit fragrance throughout the roast spectrum. The wet aroma is not so dynamic, but has floral aspects in the light roast, and is intensely chocolate at FC+. While I appreciate the fruit blossom notes in the light City+ roast, it is really at FC and darker where this coffee excels. The body is so buttery thick, so viscuous and weighty on the palate. It's not a complex cup, but you can appreciate the directness of it's flavors, bittersweet chocolate, darkly fruited tones lurking beneath, all tenor-to-bass range flavors, enveloped by the dense, creamy body of this coffee. There.s a sweet spot at FC roast where the chocolate is more milky sweet, and beyond that it takes on the pungent tang of dark chocolate, but I find either "roast interpretation" of this coffee most agreeable.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Low-acidity, heavy dense body, chocolate  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City +; I preferred the FC milk chocolate roast. At FC and darker it becomes a very intense S.O. Espresso with tons of crema (not long-lasting crema, but a lot of it).
Score (Max. 100) 86 Compare to: A low acid, thick body, rustic coffee, akin to some natural dry-process Brazils. Great espresso too.

India Baba Budan -Mandelkhan Estate
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Baba Budan Giri, Chikmagalur, Karnataka Mark: Mandelkhan Estate, 5000+ feet
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Selection 795
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: It's unique to have a single-farm coffee from altitude as high as the Mandelkhan Estate. Much of the wet-processed arabica from India is grown at altitudes similar to Brazil, 900 to 1100 meters, so a coffee from nearly 1500 meters is exceptional. This is a MNEB grade lot (Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold, what a name! ... Let's call it MNEB as they do in the trade, and what it actually means is that this is the top grade arabica coffee, the flagship category exported from India). Mysore coffees are actually grown in the Mysore, Coorg, Biligiris and Shevaroys regions in southern India. It is the largest screen size (18+ screen), grown and prepared to the highest standards of the India Coffee Board. The dry fragrance of the lighter roasts is very nutty, and has that characteristic almond skin/ peanut skin smell (tough to imagine, but you know it when you smell it. Water transforms the smell into a compound aroma of milky chocolate and nut. This is the point at which, in blind cupping, I suspected that this was a special lot ... I knew by the nut fragrance is was an India arabica, perhaps garden variety, but now I could detect brighter and sweeter floral notes. The cup is mild and loaded with toasted almond. I wouldn't call it incredibly complex, but certainly one of the more refined India coffees I have ever tasted. There's a soft caramel/brown sugar sweetness; praline nuts. As it cools, a soft milk chocolate tone emerges, and with the silky body it gives a "chocolate milk effect" in the cup. It's not so unlike the roast taste from Typica coffees grown in Kona. There's a soft caramel/brown sugar sweetness. I call this a very refined coffee, a term I wouldn't use often when refering to India arabicas, and also a "crowd-pleaser" in that the acidty, cup flavors and body are in balance.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / floral aroma, toasted almond and chocolate cup flavors, balance  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to FC. I did not cup test this at dark (Vienna) roast levels. At FC+Mandelkhan makes great S.O. Espresso!
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Very refined for an India coffee, a "crowd pleaser for sure."

India Robusta -Bibi Plantation
Country: India Grade: Kaapi Royale Robusta Region: Virajpet, Karnataka Mark: Bibi Plantation, Nath Plantation
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: July 2007 arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: SL-274
Dry Fragrance (1-5) n/a

Notes: This lot of single-origin, wet-processed, Estate-grown robusta is from Faiz Moosakutty's Bibi/Nath Plantation (Virajpet, Karnataka). Faiz is the same grower of our Elephant mark India Monsooned coffee, which has consistently out-cupped all other India Monsooned Malabar lots. An estate robusta like this is totally unlike a commodity-grade robusta: they are hand-picked, wet-processed and sun-dried, like many good arabica coffees. They are also carefully prepared to remove defective beans and grown at high altitudes and in sustainable environments, usually intercropped with fruit, pepper and other spices. The average growing altitude of this farm is over 3000 feet, and it is the product of old trees. This is the highest robusta grade for screen size and preparation: Kaapi Royale. In addition to the typical wet-processing and sun-drying, this lot uses the newer demucilage instead of pulping the skin off the coffee, followed by traditional fermentation. In your espresso blend, used between 10-25%, this coffee adds volumes to the crema, and an aggressive, pungent dark chocolate note. Usually I would keep Robusta below 15% in an espresso blend but because of the quality of this robusta, you can go up to 25% before it starts to overtake to cup too much. Robustas have less aroma that arabicas, but this lot actually has a ncie, dark, mildly sweet note to it. The aftertaste is extremely long and persistent

Wet Aroma (1-5) n/a
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) n/a
Flavor - Depth (1-10) n/a
Body - Movement (1-5) n/a
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) n/a
Cupper's Correction (1-5) n/a Roast: This depends on your blend, but I would say that robustas need a minimum of Full City ++ meaning the coffee has audibly reached 2nd crack, and I prefer 460 probed bean temperature (external) which is a Vienna stage. See notes on resting the coffee post roast, above.
add 50 n/a Compare to: Premium robustas that are picked and prepared to the same standards as high quality Arabicas, for use in espresso blends only! Not for straight roasts! SCORING NOTE: While I don't score robusta coffees (the scoring system is made for arabicas), Ken Davids scored this as 90 on the his modified Robusta Scale form.
Score (Max. 100) n/a For Espresso - Intensity/Prime Attribute: BOLD / Crema, bittersweet pungent flavors

India Monsooned Malabar "Elephant" (a premium Monsooned Arabica coffee)
Country: India Grade: AA Premium Region: Sunticoppa, Karnataka Mark: Bibi Plantation, "Elephant" mark
Processing: Wet-processed arabica, then Monsooned Crop: June 2005 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Kents and other cultivars
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.8 Notes: Our new premium India Monsooned lot is from the Bibi Plantation run by coffee farmer Faiz Moosakutty. Faiz' beautiful farm in Sunticoppa, Karnataka State, complete with small residences for all the workers, dairy, rice paddies, etc. The main farm is called Bibi Plantation where you see (rather uniquely in the coffee world) Arabica and Robusta growing on the same estate. Since Arabica and Robusta are processed in the same manner, this has led to India producing one of the world’s better Robustas in their washed Robusta parchment, but that doesn't concern us here since the Monsooned Malabar is 100% arabica coffee. Faiz also owns a very fine mill in Kushinagar where he processes his own coffee giving full control over the cup quality of the final product. We "discovered" the coffee recently via a tip from the British folks on a coffee trip to Colombia I was on, and I was really impressed with the quality of the cup and the preparation of the coffee. Monsooned coffee is certainly unique. Monsooned coffees are stored in special warehouses until the Monsoon season comes around. The sides of the structure are opened and moist monsoon winds circulate around the coffee making it swell in size and take on a mellowed but aggressive, musty flavor. The monsooning process is labor-intensive: coffee is spread on the floor of the special monsooning warehouse, raked and turned around by hand to enable the seeds to soak in moisture of the humid winds. The monsooning process takes around 12 to 16 months of duration, where in the beans swell to twice their original size and turn into pale golden color. Then there are additional hand-sortings to remove any coffee that did not expand properly, and the coffee is prepared for export. The dry fragrance of this coffee is not it's strong suit, but add water and the wet aromatics have sweet nuances, with a strong roasted nut smell. Cup flavors are very nutty (dry roasted peanut) with caramel and pipe tobacco. While a good Monsooned coffee should be pungent, agressive and almost musty, these should be clean flavors: nobody wants coffee to taste like mold! The Elephant is exactly that, which means it is great for espresso blending (I am partial to a 50-50 blend with Sulawesi Toraja).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.2
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Roast: Full City and darker: Monsooned roasts in a unique way: you have more volume and less weight comapred to other coffees. It colors in a unique way, with coffee at 2nd crack with an even caramel-brown color whereas another coffee at the same degree of roast would be darker in appearance.
add 50 50 Compare to: Monsooned coffees are totally unique, low acid, pungent, and exotic in flavor. Bad ones are too musty: this isn't. But be prepared for an unusual cup. This is Great for espresso blending
Score (Max. 100) 84.9

India Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold
Country: India Grade: MNEB Region: Mysore District, Karnataka State Mark: Allana Plantations
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18+ Screen Varietal: Kents and ?
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold, what a name! It lends itself to a few bawdy jokes, but I will just leave that up to you ... Let's call it MNEB as they do in the trade, and what it actually means is that this is the top grade arabica coffee, the flagship category exported from India. It is the largest screen size (18+ screen), grown and prepared to the highest standards of the India Coffee Board. Mysore coffees are actually grown in the Mysore, Coorg, Biligiris and Shevaroys regions in southern India. I was intrigued by the MNEB coffees after participating in an India cupping a while back, and tried to push some importers to bring in this high grade coffee (we are not big enough to import a container of coffee ourselves!) This cup reminds me more of Java than of other India coffees I have cupped. It has that particular nutty quality from the dry fragrance through the aftertaste. I think of dry-roasted peanut here, as well as the effect of peanut skins. I call in a parchment flavor and it's a particular quality that I have not found elsewhere. There are tea flavors here which coincide with the spice notes. We also have a thick body here and low acidity; the combination draws a sketch of Java estate coffees. There are hints of spice (perhaps because India coffees are often grown intercropped with spices), and a syrupy quality to the mouthfeel and finish. I get a chocolate-cherry secondary note, with a passing caramel sweetness in the finish, then the "peanut skins" aspect. The acidity is low, making this a "tenor-note" coffee overall. The preparation of the green coffee is very good, with a standard large 18/64ths screen and higher (much screens at 19 and up).
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Low-acidity, unusual cup flavors  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City +; I roasted it light (City) and enjoyed a dry-peanut quality but preferred the FC or FC + roasts. At FC + it becomes an interesting single origin espresso too with toffee and cherry notes, and great aroma.
Score (Max. 100) 85.4 Compare to: Indian character leaning toward Indonesian funkiness though.

India Monsooned Robusta
Country: India Grade: Parchment Robusta, Monsooned Region: Karnataka State Mark: Allana Exports
Processing: Wet-processed, Monsooned Crop: April 2007 Arrival, 2006 crop coffee Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Unsure
Dry Fragrance (1-5) n/a Notes: Here is a real oddball coffee, a genuine Monsooned Robusta from India. Why? Espresso blending. Monsooned Robusta as a compontent of espresso adds interesting notes, aggressive but perhaps more muted than a too-fresh robusta. What flavors can be expected? Woodsy, pungent notes, the kind that cut through the steamed milk well to prevent the coffee from getting "lost" in all that lactose sweetness. In straight espresso, these bittering flavors can be very pleasant: rustic smoked wood, peat moss, cedar, tobacco. But you need to be conservative with the percentage in your blend; you don't want to overload your palate. I recommend something around 20% or less, depending on the style of espresso you are aiming for, whether it is used in a milk drink or straight shots, and level of roast. Of course, I had to try this as 100% straight shots, and actually I found it more pleasant than comparable "fresh" robusta. (Robusta is a place I make an exception on green coffee freshness: I greatly prefer robusta that is 6 to 18 months old, based on the date it was dry-milled. Really fresh robusta has a cloying, biting quality in espresso blends. Note that this is 100% counter to everything I think about our arabica coffees, and the way we work so hard to keep them stocked only from mid-harvest, fresh, new crop arrivals).
Wet Aroma (1-5) n/a
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) n/a
Flavor - Depth (1-10) n/a
Body - Movement (1-5) n/a
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) n/a
Cupper's Correction (1-5) n/a Roast: Same as standard robusta ...this depends on your blend, but I would say that robustas need a minimum of Full City ++ meaning the coffee has audibly reached 2nd crack, and I prefer 465 probed bean temperature (external) which is a Vienna stage. See notes on resting the coffee post roast, above.
add 50 n/a Compare to: Like premium robusta but with a bit less edge to the cup, and more woodsy flavor qualities. Both will add crema to your shots. Again, let me underscore that our Robusta offerings are premium coffees, for which we pay as much or more than arabica coffees. This is not cheap Robusta swill!
Score (Max. 100) n/a

For Espresso - Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold / Rustic notes, crema

Scoring Note: I don't score robusta by traditional point methods since I evaluate it only as a blend component.


India Organic Washed Robusta (Parchment Robusta)
Country: India Grade: Parchment Robusta Region: Mysore Mark: Poabs Exports, Skal Cert. Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: October 2006 Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: SL-274
Dry Fragrance (1-5) n/a Notes: I was very impressed with the appearance of this expertly prepped robusta when the sample arrived, but it is how it works in an espresso that sold me on it. Really high quality robusta is actually quite difficult to obtain. It is hard to get a processor to put the same care into a robusta as they do with top arabica coffees, because in most cases robusta is grown for the cheap commercial market. Why grow it with care? Why process it in a wet mill to exacting standards? Why hand-sort it like arabica coffees? Well, for one reason only: high quality traditional espresso blends. But that represents a very small amount of the demand for robusta, and a very small part of the coffee market. I tried this out in our blends, roasted at a variety of levels and roast times. What I get is the positive attributes of robusta (a volume increase in crema, a rich crema color, a good "bite" to the cup flavor, improved "resolution" of the coffee flavor in cappuccino) without the off flavors (rubber, medicine, etc) of bad robusta. In fact, it enhances a tangy chocolate quality in the cup. But it must be used with care, discretely at 15% or less, and requires a longer rest time after roasting. I like espresso rested for 48 hours or more, and find an unpleasant tingly baking powder effect in under-rested espresso. This is a fully wet-processed robusta, which in the India market is called "Parchment Robusta" as opposed to dry-process robusta which is called "Cherry Robusta". It also happens to be SKAL Organic certified, which is pretty cool since that guarantees it doesn't get fumigated with methyl bromide! (boo) By the way, "washed" is synonymous with "wet processed".
Wet Aroma (1-5) n/a
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) n/a
Flavor - Depth (1-10) n/a
Body - Movement (1-5) n/a
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) n/a
Cupper's Correction (1-5) n/a Roast: This depends on your blend, but I would say that robustas need a minimum of Full City ++ meaning the coffee has audibly reached 2nd crack, and I prefer 465 probed bean temperature (external) which is a Vienna stage. See notes on resting the coffee post roast, above.
add 50 n/a Compare to: Premium robustas that are picked and prepared to the same standards as high quality Arabicas, for use in espresso blends only! Not for straight roasts!
Score (Max. 100) n/a For Espresso - Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium / Clean taste attributes, crema Scoring Note: I don't score robusta by traditional point methods since I evaluate it only as a blend component.

Indonesia (for each specific island, see that section e.g. Sumatra, Sulawesi, Timor, etc.)   

Indonesian Organic SWP Decaf Komodo Blend
Country: Indonesian: Sumatra, Uganda, Ethiopia and a touch of Bolivia Grades: 1, A Regions: See Notes Mark: Swiss Water Decaf, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed, then decaf by Swiss Water Process Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 scr Varietal: Various
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: This is a Indonesian Komodo Blend of coffees not all of which are Indonesian; it includes mostly Sumatra (2 types), and Timor. All are Certified Organic and Swiss Water Process decaffeinated. The Swiss Water process is very damaging to the cup quality of acidic coffees (Central Americans, etc) but quite nice with low-acid Indonesians. This particular blend, circa Sept. 2005, is a bit brighter than previous versions, so if you have bought this coffee in the past, you may notice a difference. The blend is strong on deep flavors, full body and minimal acidity and can take a variety of roasts from City through French. The Komodo Blend is also great for decaf espresso. You could use it 100%, or use it as the base of a low-caf espresso or filter coffee. As with the decaf Sumatra, the blending strategy is to have your decaf provide body and depth (which the Sumatran and Indonesian Komodo do well) and then have your non-decaf coffees add the high, bright notes ...something many decafs cannot do well! (with the exception of MC decafs like the Kenya or Yirgacheffe)
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8
Body - Movement (1-5) 4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8 Roast: City, Full City, Continental, French. Remember, SWPs are dark in color, so roasting is best done by listening to the cracks, smell and time.
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Compare to: Straight Indonesians: this cup is unique but will bear more resemblance to straight Timor than to straight Sumatra ...it's more balanced. Note that in contrast to our other blends, this is not a blend we do here at the shop. I cup every lot of it to make sure it is consistent with the "spirit" of the blend, although to keep cup quality high, ingredients can change (and the review will reflect that). Sometimes Organic PNG or Timor are used. The current setup is Sumatra Gayoland, Uganda and Ethiopia Sidamo organic coffees.
add 50 50
Score (Max. 100) 84

Indonesia Flores -Bajawa Highlands
Country: Indonesia Grade: Estate Island: Flores, Bajawa region Mark: None
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: Late January 2007Arrival Appearance: 1.6 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Sumatra Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Flores is a small island (360 km from tip to tip) in the Indonesian archipelago around 200 nautical miles East of Bali. Flores was known as Pulau Nipa (Snake Island) before the Portuguese arrived and they renamed it Flores (Flower Island). A very long thin Mountainous land with incredibly diverse terrain, and numerous active and inactive volcanic peaks. The Bajawa Highlands are one of the most traditional areas of Flores. Bajawa is a small town nestled in the hills and is the centre for the Ngada people of this high, fertile plateau. The coffee is grown between 1150 and 1400 meters, which is actually quite respectable altitude for Indonesian coffee farming. This is not the first time I have cupped coffee from Flores, but it is the first time I found it so (appropriately) floral, clean in the cup, and pleasantly akin to a good Timor or Papua New Guinea wet-processed coffee. It's not easy to get smallholder farms in remote areas to process coffee carefully; the results from these hinterland growing regions usually reflect this. But here we can really taste the character of the area without defect. The dry fragrance is mildly floral and has a foresty note to it, suggesting it's Indonesian origin. There are pleasant fresh woody notes wet aroma, and that comes through in the cup, but more like a good East Timor than like a funky, earthy Sumatra. The body seemed light after 24 hours rest but was much heavier after an additional 24. Both in the body and aftertaste, this coffee has a syrupy sweetness. It is not overly complex, which is why Timor and Java come to mind ... but much more balanced than the later with a good range from bass to treble in the cup. I am warming up the espresso machine to try shots on an FC+ roast, which I think are going to be outstanding unblended with other coffees ...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Balance, body  
add 50 50 Roast: My review notes are based on a City+ and Full City roast, and yes, the FC+ single-origin espresso worked out great; very floral and aromatic!
Score (Max. 100) 85.7 Compare to: A cross between other wet-processed Indonesian, with hints of Timor, Java and PNG.

Jamaica 

Jamaica Blue Mountain-Mavis Bank
Country: Jamaica Grade: Certified Blue Mountain Region: Blue Mountain Mark: Mavis Bank Mill
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: September 2005 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 Screen Varietal: Jamaica Blue Mountain Cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.2 Notes: Something good is going on at the Mavis Bank Mill. They invested in all new equipment, and the coffee samples are showing up looking good. The problem is, some lots are better than others, and the Jamaican crop is really not a year-round offering (although someone will happily sell you Jamaican at any time of the year). Coffee cannot be stored in Jamaica for a very long time without being damaged by the heat and humidity. So it is important to buy from a carefully cupped lot (the first arrivals are not always the better ones) and then get it shipped promptly out of Jamaica to a milder climate. Beware of imposters; Jamaica High Mountain is not Jamaica Blue Mountain, and many coffees are actually blends that contain little Jamaican. It's fun to roast Blue Mountain and find out what this highly touted coffee is all about when it is fresh ... and why it ranks among the better Mexican coffees in terms of cup quality. True Blue Mountain is an unusual coffee; it has good body, and some very interesting mild nutty flavors with herbal notes that remind me sometimes of chamomile, sometimes of spice. There are only 4 trade names that can legally call their product Blue Mountain coffee: Wallenford, Mavis Bank, Old Tavern and one other I can never remember. True Blue Mountain is actually grown at higher altitudes than most other island coffees, and much of Mavis Bank's farms are at 5000 feet. Nonetheless, it has the soft cup profile. But remember, this is an "island profile" coffee; smooth, mild, balanced ...and oh so so so expensive. Don't expect huge fireworks in the cup - the character of Jamaican coffee is about it's mild balance and subtlety in flavor. I think this lot of Jamaican is the best I have ever had in terms of up quality and preparation of the green coffee. Personally, I will not consider offering any other Jamaican coffee, like Wallenford. I have seen too many insect-damaged coffees from that source, and cabbage-like flavors in the cupping samples. Anyway, there was a lot of damage to the trees, dirt farm roads and mills in the last hurricane season (not Katrina though.) This has affected the volume of the output, and price, but not the quality from Mavis Bank. When this lot arrived, I was happily surprised with the cup. I had some floral aromatics, sweetness in the wet aroma. Roasted to a lighter City stage it has more top end in the cup but the Full City (a few snaps of 2nd crack in the air roaster) had a nice aftertaste, sweet, a little rootbeer, aromatic wood, and that floral sweet hint longered. Now it is mild, because it is an island coffee. Still the subtle positive qualities in this lot made it heads and tails above any other true JBM samples I have looked at! Over-roasted Jamaican ends up like all other coffees; carbony, but Full City + can actually be quite nice!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute:MIld intensity / balance and subtlety   cfa
add 50 50 Roast: I usually recommend staying out of 2nd crack with the Jamaican coffees, and indeed I like this one when roasted to the light City stage and rested 2 days. But we had great cups from this particular lot when roasted to Full City with a just a hint of 2nd crack.
Score (Max. 100) 85.1 Compare to: Island coffee profile: Mild, low-medium acidity: not unlike some of the Mexican coffees from Oaxaca and Coatepec.

see the 2005-2006 archive

Java 

Java Monsooned Arabica
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: East Java Mark: Private Estate Monsooned
Processing: Wet Processed, then Monsooned Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Java Catimor Hybrid
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.6 Notes: This is unlike any coffee from the island of Java you have ever seen, because it is Monsooned, in the tradition of Monsooned Malabar from India. It starts with a private estate coffee (not one of the Government Estates such as Djampit and Blawan that lie along the road from Bondowoso to the volcano of Kawa Ijen (also spelled Kawah Ijen). But it is from the same region. It is on these volcanic slopes of the Ijen plateau that the coffee prospers from the required coffee altitudes and well-draining soil. The IJen Plateau lies in the center of a large forest reserve, which extends over much of the mountainous region to the west of Banyuwangi. After it is picked, processed in the "wet process tradition" of fermenting off the mucilage from the parchment layer surrounding the green seed, it is laid out to dry. Then, instead of dry-milling the coffee out of it's parchment, screening and sorting it, and preparing the coffee for export, the parchment coffee is bagged and sent to a special warehouse. And it sits, and sits, and then the Monsoon season comes. The warehouse is opened up to the warm weather, and (without getting the coffee wet in the rain) the coffee is allowed to absorb this moist warm air. The result is a swelling of the seed, and this pale, ghostly color. In terms of the cup, the coffee develops an odd pungency to the cup, and aggressive rustic character, heavy body, very low acidity, and unusual spice notes (clove, black pepper). This is a very distinct lot from the monsooned India Malabar / Mysore / Karnataka coffees. It has all that aggressive, bass-note, alkaloidy funk, but a unique sweetness (dark molasses) as well as pungent spice (clove, pepper). It is great at darker roasts, F+ and beyond, and as an espresso blend component. It's a bit less "pretty" than the Elephant mark India Monsooned we stock, but hey, we judge coffee by how it cups out, not by the green appearance! Pink Ink Alert: in marking the burlap bags, someone was a little overzealous and used too much pink bag marker - some came through on the coffee. For appearance sake, we have tried to remove these, but a few get through. The pinkness is food grade vegetable-based marker and does not affect taste!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Funky sweetness and spices, thick body, no acidity.  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City + to Vienna. Highly recommended as an espresso blend component for a rustic, exotic espresso.
Score (Max. 100) 83.9 Compare to: India Monsooned, but with unusual sweetness and spice. Remember, this coffee is a shock to the decent, respectable palate. It takes some time getting used to this flavor. Also note that the "green" looks a bit more mangey than our Elephant Monsooned, but cups out great.

Java Government Estate Pancoer
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: East Java Mark: Pancoer Estate
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: April 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Java Typica, Catimor Hybrid USDA, Kartika
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 2.8 Notes: Javas can be hit or miss; there was a time when I wouldn't buy Java coffees based on outrageous prices and extremely poor, no ... absolutely crappy ... cup quality. For me, not stocking a Java came to symbolize the fact that I wouldn't bow to pressures to offer a major origin if I didn't think it was good; quality would reign supreme! That was 5 years back and despite a lot of competition to buy the really good Java coffees from the 6 Government estates, we have been able to stock some pretty fine lots from this origin. There are 3 names you will see here; Djampit (Jampit), Blawan and Kayumas. In any given season, one is better than another and I cup them all regularily to determine which is the real winner. Djampit and Blawan lie along the road from Bondowoso to the volcano of Kawa Ijen (also spelled Kawah Ijen). It is on these volcanic slopes of the Ijen plateau that the coffee prospers from the required coffee altitudes and well-draining soil. The IJen Plateau lies in the centre of a large forest reserve, which extends over much of the mountainous region to the west of Banyuwangi. A luminous blue/green crater lake lies at the far eastern end of the plateau and is without doubt one of the most impressive of East Java's natural wonders. The Kawa Ijen summit is 2,300 metres above sea-level. The enormous lake, which is 200 metres deep, contains approximately 36,000,000 cubic metres of steaming, acid water ... needless to say this is an active volcanic cone! Okay, back to coffee ... there is "Government Estate" Java, from the 6 old farms in East Java that date back to Dutch colonialism, and "Private Estate" Java. Government Estate is invariably preferred, and Kayumas, Djampit, Pancoer and Blawan are all Gov't Estate. In the cup Java is largely about thick, oily body, and very low acidity. A really good Java will be deep, with a touch of spice in the cup, and when the roast is right it will have subtle bittersweet chocolate tastes. When roasted dark, the low acidity can make the cup taste flat. However the Full City roasts are where you get that rich, bittersweet chocolate flavor. This Pancoer lot is fairly late in the season and has what I look for in a Java: body and chocolate, with nut flavors in the lighter roasts. I can't wax poetic about much more, because that's the beginning and end of the story. Java is not a complex cup. At FC+ I get a really good dark chocolate bittersweet in the aroma, and oily body. I get tangy rootbeer in the flavor and aftertaste, and that sense of very weighty, opaque thickness to the cup. This cup can standalone, or is a great bass-note choice in a blend.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Body, chocolate roast notes
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City + to Vienna. Roast it to develop the maximum chocolate bitterness without making it ashy or carbony. FC+ is best, I feel.
Score (Max. 100) 84.1 Compare to: A heavy, oily body coffee with mild cup flavors otherwise. Java is not like the semi-washed Indonesia coffees from Sumatra and Sulawesi.

Java Government Estate -Pancoer
Country: Indonesia Grade: One Region: East Java, Ijen Plateau Mark: Government Estate Pancoer
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: late 2006 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: Typica (Sumatra), Catuai, Catimor
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Javas can be hit or miss; there was a time when I wouldn't buy Java coffees based on outrageous prices and extremely poor, no ... absolutely crappy ... cup quality. For me, not stocking a Java came to symbolize the fact that I wouldn't bow to pressures to offer a major origin if I didn't think it was good; quality would reign supreme! That was a few years back and despite a lot of competition to buy the really good Java coffees from the 6 Government estates, we have been able to stock some outstanding lots from this origin. There are 3 names you will see here; Djampit (Jampit), Blawan and Kayumas. In any given season, one is better than another and I cup them all regularily to determine which is the real winner. Djampit and Blawan lie along the road from Bondowoso to the volcano of Kawa Ijen (also spelled Kawah Ijen). It is on these volcanic slopes of the Ijen plateau that the coffee prospers from the required coffee altitudes and well-draining soil. The IJen Plateau lies in the centre of a large forest reserve, which extends over much of the mountainous region to the west of Banyuwangi. A luminous blue/green crater lake lies at the far eastern end of the plateau and is without doubt one of the most impressive of East Java's natural wonders. The Kawa Ijen summit is 2,300 metres above sea-level. The enormous lake, which is 200 metres deep, contains approximately 36,000,000 cubic metres of steaming, acid water ... needless to say this is an active volcanic cone! Okay, back to coffee ... there is "Government Estate" Java, from the 6 old farms in East Java that date back to Dutch colonialism, and "Private Estate" Java. Government Estate is invariably preferred, and Kayumas, Djampit, Pancoer and Blawan are all Gov't Estate. In the cup Java is largely about thick, oily body, and very low acidity. A really good Java will be deep, with a touch of spice in the cup, and when the roast is right it will have subtle bittersweet chocolate tastes. When roasted dark, the low acidity can make the cup taste flat. You can roast a good Java to a City roast, and achieve a measure of balance in the cup; City is my preference for straight roast. But often you get this great chocolate roast note, bitter chocolate, at FC+ or light Vienna. Of course, you can take it darker to accentuate depth and body, and you can add mid-range and brighter note qualities through blending with a Java; hence the historical Mokha Java blend using either a Yemeni coffee or a good floral Harar. This lot is a bit of a surprise, coming late in the Java crop cycle, and from the one Government Estate I had never before offered, Pancoer. But I hold no preconceptions when it comes to cupping, and everything is tasted blind and randomized. This was a stellar Java cup. I noted fresh tobacco in the dry fragrance and the wet aroma, and it lingers throughout the cup into the aftertaste. There was a "good earthiness", fresh humus, combined with herbal flavors; sage in particular. It has that oily body, and very low acidity, as is the neotypical java cup profile.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 7.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.6
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 4.5
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / fresh tobacco, humus, herbs, thick body.
add 50 50 Roast: Commercialy you will see this offered as a Full City coffee, but try it lighter and be amazed! Allow proper resting period for full body to develop.
Score (Max. 100) 86.1 Compare to: Java differs from the semi-washed Indonesians, Sulawesi (Celebes) and Sumatra. It is more similar to Timor, and Papua New Guinea … but those both tend to have more acidity.

Kenya 

Kenya AA Giakanja Coop Coffee Mill
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Nyeri District Mark: Giakanja Cooperative Union
Processing: Wet Process Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Another lot from the end of the 2007 Kenya Main Crop season is this remarkable Giakanja Coop coffee. It is from the Neryi district, where some of the most extraordinary Kenya lots come from. Nyeri has some of the highest altitude coffee, which means that the harvest peaks later, hence the late arrivals of good Nyeri lots. Many Nyeri coffees are highly acidic, with prized citrus notes: orange, lemon, lime, kumquat, grapefruit. But this Giakanja lot is quite different, heavily fruited, almost rustic fruit, as if there was just a bit of Indonesia coffee in there. Now to many cuppers, any suggestion of rustic or "Indonesia-like" cup character in a Kenya would raise red flags, and they would consider bidding on this lot in the Auction to be risky. But it is strange to me that the coffee trade will allow flavors that are a bit wild from one origin, and not another. Kenyas have historically had winey fruited notes, it's just that Giakanja has a bit more of Syrah type wine notes than other Kenyas. The cup starts with very sweet honey-caramel dry fragrance, which becomes more winey, chocolate and spice-laden at Full City roast. There's a big shift when you add the hot water. Light City and City+ roasts have incredible sweet floral rosebud aromas, with pink grapefruit and raw honey. The cup flavors are sweet in the light roasts, turning simply menacing and bittersweet as you reach FC+! It's Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde coffee, but in this case both "personalities" are extremely appealing. City to City+: red currant and pink grapefruit bright notes, orange honey sweetness, and a floral accent combine to form a lively, effervescent cup character. It finishes with sweetness fading to a zest of lemon rind. At Full City and darker (Especially at FC+, a couple snaps into 2ns crack): Think Dark Shadows, Noir. There's a high contrast between sharp pungent spice, baker's chocolate bitterness, lingering dark caramelized sugar sweetness, and a stripe of Indonesian wildness running through the cup. A dark roast of this Kenya is a workout for your palate! In any case, it is one of the most versatile lots, since you the roaster have so much determination in the cup character: bright and zingy, with angelic bright notes, or heavy, aggressive, and corpulent ... you decide.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Split Personality, but so versatile too.  gethumbwini_peaberry
add 50 50 Roast: See notes above. There's a hugely different cup that results from a light City roast than from a darker FC+ roast (a few snaps into 2nd crack). You can have it both ways Giakanja.
Score (Max. 100) 91 Compare to: Bright, lively Kenya in the light roast, aggressive and pungent Kenya in the darker roast range

Kenya AA Nyeri - Gachatha Coop
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Nyeri District Mark: Gachatha Cooperative Washing Station
Processing: Wet Process Crop: November 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.4 Notes: As the 2007 Kenya Main Crop season was winding down, I found this great lot, and with the prospect of offering nice Kenyas much later in the year than usual (we often run out before Christmas and don't find any great new crop lots until April or so), I jumped on this coffee! Gachatha has a fruited dry fragrance with a distinctly winey aspect to it, reminding me more of Kirinyaga-district coffees than the Nyeri lots. Don't get me wrong, Nyeri produces some of the brightest, most citrusy, piquant lots. I love Nyeri, but this Gachatha proves that not all Nyeri coffees fit that narrow profile. There are bergamot notes in the grounds, and raisiny sweetness. The wet fragrance has both fresh Concord Grape and winey notes. There's also a bit of mango fruitiness in there, and an candy-like sweetness when "breaking the crust" (releasing the aromatics during the cupping process by stirring the floating crust of grinds). While the cup has bold flavors, it isn't overly acidic; it's not a Kenya that bites you back with acidity. Sure, it's bright, but the fruited notes are winey in tone, and the citrus has a dried orange peel character, not sour lemon! The aftertaste is long an has dark brown sugar sweetness, with a strong rindy zest. There is a mild grapefruit note in the flavor that emerges as the cup cools, but the bergamot tea
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Winey fruit, citrus peel, sweet.  
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). This has darker roast character at the City + stage than you might expect. I felt the cup lost a lot of dynamic brightness at Full City + roast.
Score (Max. 100) 90.4 Compare to: Clear, bright, crisp Kenya profile

Kenya Muranga - Kianderi Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: Peaberry Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Muranga District Mark: Kianderi Coop
Processing: Wet Process Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 screen PB screen Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: This Kianderdi Peaberry from the tail end of the 2007 main crop auctions is just a speck of a lot. We have roughly 1/8 the amount of this than the other awesome tail-ender Nyeri lots, Gachatha and Giakanja. But it is a precious little pearl too (and not just because of the little round shape). The cup has a very sweet and floral dry fragrance from the grounds, with a mild scent of paperwhites (lily), sweet cereal, and vanilla. The wet aromas follow suit, and the cup flavors are markedly bright, with chardonnay-like flavors in the lightest roast I tested (City roast, just to the conclusion of 1st crack and stopped). The FC roast is certainly more downbeat than the City and City+ roast, but the flavors are a bit more muddled by bittersweet notes from the roast. I think this lot is idea for those who like unabashedly bright, lightly roasted coffees. There's ample lemony high notes here, with a spicey zest of pepper, fading into a crystal-clear, white grape finish. While it has sweetness, this cup strikes an interesting balance between sour and sweet.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Split Personality, but so versatile too.  
add 50 50 Roast: See notes above. There's a hugely different cup that results from a light City roast than from a darker FC+ roast (a few snaps into 2nd crack). You can have it both ways Giakanja.
Score (Max. 100) 91 Compare to: Bright, lively Kenya in the light roast, aggressive and pungent Kenya in the darker roast range

Kenya AA Nyeri - Ruarai Coop
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Nyeri District Mark: Ruarai Society Coop
Processing: Wet Process Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen Varietal: SL-29, SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Ruarai is a name that means "red" but apparantly that has nothing to do with the coop (called "societies" in Kenya) where this Auction Lot coffee originates. Ruarai is also the name of the river through the adjacent Wajee Nature Park in Nyeri, and the area is known for excellent bird-watching, all within view of snow-capped Mount Kenya. Nyeri growing region is where many of my favorite Kenya Auction Lots originate, due partly to excellent altitude, closer and higher up the slopes to the peaks above. Nyeri coffees tend to have greater citrusy brightness in the cup. I find the Ruarai not so be so citrusy, but rather a rose-like floral dry fragrance prevails, with crystal malty roast tones and clover honey sweetness in the wet aromatics. The cup has a bit of orange rind zest, and sweetness from start to finish: light brown sugar, malt and honey. It's a lower-intensity cup than other Kenyas, which is a nice break from the super-bright, grab-your-tongue-and-twist acidity of some other lots, especially the Nyeri coffees. More than anything else, the lighter roasts of this coffee are supremely floral: rose, orange blossom, and hints of peach. I have a definite preference for the City and City+ roast of Ruarai, roasted until first crack is complete, then stopped when the bean surface still has a fariry wrinkled appearance, about 20-30 seconds after the end of first crack. (Of course this varies greatly with your type of roaster). The slightly darker FC and FC+ roasts, near or just at 2nd crack, seemed to obscure the delightful floral notes and sweetness, without lending much to the cup. The FC+ roast had a more Earl Grey and Bergamot flavor, but it seemed at odds with the rest of the cup. Perhaps drawing out the darker roast a bit longer (mine was 11 minutes) would have better results. But I just like the lightest roasts so much: As the cup cools I also get hints of cantaloupe, and a touch of Meyer lemon. The body is light, which truly suits the cup flavors here, which border on tea-like floral brightness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 2.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweetly floral  
add 50 50 Roast: An ideal coffee for the light end of the roast spectrum, City to City+; I felt the FC and FC+ roasts obscured the floral cup character
Score (Max. 100) 89.2 Compare to: Sweetness and flowers, lower acidity than other Nyeri coffees.

Kenya Kirinyaga - Thimu Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Kirinyaga District Mark: Thimu Coop Society
Processing: Wet Process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ PB Varietal: SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4 Notes: Thimu is a cooperative coffee mill in the area of the same name, Kirinyaga district. Kirinyaga coffees have a particular flavor profile, and I feel like this Thimu Peaberry lot is a prime example of this Kirinyaga character. There's a winey note to the Kirinyaga cup, and a rustic sweet, aromatic quality too. It's been described alternately as "sweaty" or "fresh leather". Those don't sound appealing, but they give you some sense of the aggressive note here, buried in layers of fruit (mostly berry), wine-like notes, and bright accents. I don't find the Thimu particularily "sweaty" but I do find a deeply pungent spice in the cup. It starts with winey aroma, blackberry tea, and this dark peppery spice. The cup follows suit with these aromatic themes, adding a rather dense, waxy, "black walnut"-laced body. There's a blackberry tea note to the finish, not too tannic or astringent, and a considerably long aftertaste. It's by no means a citric, lemony Kenya, so it bears distinction from our other lots. Deeper in tonality, more expansive in its mouthfeel, I also like this with a tad more roast on it than other Auction Lot Kenyas we have this year. Full City to Full City +, nearing 2nd crack, or with a couple audible snaps of 2nd, suits this cup. It intensifies as it cools, with sweet dark fruitiness, pepper and winey notes emerging, so allow yourself some time with this cup, and hold it on the palate a bit when it is cool enough. I also recommend some percentage of this in espresso blends, under 20%. Yes, Kenya in espresso is fantastic and you will immediately note increased aroma.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.3
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Ripe fruit, winey accents, pungency  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City+ - I like this one with a bit more roast on it than our other main crop auction lot Kenyas
Score (Max. 100) 89.8 Compare to: Deep, darker toned Kenya with winey notes, berry and pungent spice. I cupped about 6 lots of Thimu AA, AB and PB this season, and it was really just this one that had great Kirinyaga character.

Kenya Ruiru - Oaklands Estate Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot, Main Crop 2007 Region: Ruiru District Mark: Oaklands Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: October 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-18 Peaberry screen Varietal: SL-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.3 Notes: Oaklands Estate is a coffee I have cupped quite often. It's not the smallest farm in Kenya by any means, 398 hectares, so it produces quite a few auction lots each year. Some weeks there are 2-3 lots of Oaklands on the table, and it is always good. Of course, I have always wanted to buy it just for the name ... it's a natural fit since we are in a very different Oakland here in California. But the cup just never reached the level of intensity, cleanness or sweetness that I look for. Then along came this lot, Lot 400 in the auction, and the first word that came to my mind was BIG. This is a big, big coffee. What does that mean? It has huge impact, makes a very strong impression, and is not for those who like mild coffees, or low-toned profiles. This is lot of Oaklands Estate peaberry is screaming bright, and super intense. The dry fragrance from the grounds has malt and caramel-vanilla sweetness topped by grapefruit citrus aromatics. The wet aroma has a rush of flowers in it, citrus blossom, and orange honey sweetness. These are found in the cup flavors too in ample amounts. While there is a bright orangey gush in the cup, the finish has an extraordinarily sweet honey finish, with a modest zest of orange rind. The mouthfeel is creamy, much more full than other Kenyas with similar intensity and brightness. This lot is really distinct from other lots I have ever cupped from Oaklands Estate, which had solid cup character but usually left me with a question mark over the cleanness of the cup, demostrated by murky flavors in the finish. But here I give this lot one of the highest scores I have ever given for aftertaste
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.6
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Sweet Honey and citrus  
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast).
Score (Max. 100) 91.7 Compare to: Sweetness and citrus combined, a fantastic Kenya

Kenya Nyeri - Ruiruiru Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Nyeri District Mark: Ruiruiru Co-op Society
Processing: Wet Process Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen Varietal: SL-28/-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5 Notes: Here's a name I was looking for in the auctions based on great lots we have offered in the past: Ruiruiru. It sounds more like something scoobey-doo would say, than a small community coffee mill in the high altitude coffee district of Nyeri, Kenya. But this has traditionally been one of the most citrusy, bright Kenyas in our stable, a true powerhouse. But when I cupped the preauction sample what I found was something quite different, something that suggests to me that they are experimenting with some very long fermentation times at the Ruiruiru mill. It's a very ripe fruited note, winey, overpowering. The other cupper with me saw danger signs here; fruit like that can turn fermenty, unmanageable. But I saw it as a cup with a kind of true Kenya character I don't find often, intense and complex. My warning to you is this: if you are a bit shy of Kenyas, if you have found some to be too bright, tart, fruity, acidic, well ... you might want to avoid this offering, or perhaps just try out a 1 lb'er for your edification. But if you are a Kenya-holic like I, if you enjoy this kind of screaming bright cup, then this is your coffee. To make that point I kept my roast samples lighter, and I must extrapolate that an FC+ will tone down the high tone of the cup a bit, a strategy that is effective if your first roast is too sourish at a light roast. The dry fragrance from my City and City+ roast is hard to describe only in that I can't possibly list enough of the fruits I detect here. A general description like Fruit Loops or Hawaiian Punch works for me; a panopoly of bright fruit notes like passion fruit, guanaba, mango, pineapple, etc. Wet aromatic follows suit, and there is a caramel/butterscotch sweetness behind candied fruit flavors, and also a winey aspect. And of course the cup is loaded with the same qualities, sweet, and a little like fruit salad is syrup ... you know, the stuff in cans with a touch of maraschino cherry. Here I find the City roast too thin tasting, and prefer the City + to FC roast, with a more developed, syrupy sweetness to the cup. The mouthfeel is secondary here to all the other qualities, and seems fairly light. The aftertaste has pineapple of the canned variety, in light syrup, and leaves a sweet Sucrose flavor on the tongue.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.3
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Ripe, bright tropical fruit  
add 50 50 Roast: City+
Score (Max. 100) 91.1 Compare to: One of those fruit-bomb Kenyas

Kenya AA Nyeri - Karatina
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Region: Nyeri District Mark: Karatina Town Cooperative
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 18 screen Varietal: Probably SL-28
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.4 Notes: Between the towns of Nyeri and Kirinyaga on the south-facing slopes of Mt. Kenya, you will find the town of Karatina. It is right on the border between the Nyeri and Kirinyaga coffee growing regions, at some of the highest altitudes on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The Karatina regional farms are grown at an average elevation of 1700 meters (5800 feet), and have an overall character of sharp citrus acidity and clear fresh fruit flavors. It's and appropriate general description for the Karatina, which is less of the red wine character you might find in a Kirinyaga coffee, rather a crisp chardonnay character of a good white, dry wine. Clarity, tranparency, liveliness and brightness; this is a cup that truly registes on the palate like the ring of a bell. It has a cristaline and light sweetness. The body is actually quite light, and the overall flavor impression has a narrower range than some other Kenyas that have a very wide, expansive cup character. But a heavy mouthfeel and a broad character would be out of place with the precise acidity and delicate aromatics of the Karatina. With a shorter rest time, the coffee has a red currant fruit ...fresh and vibrant. This is such a well-structured, well-defined, articulate Kenya. It's not the most powerful, most aggressive ... it's rather mild in its general disposition. But in that way it is quite approachable, with a shimmering brightness. It's just a very pristine, beautiful Kenya. In that respect, I recommend a fairly light roast treatment here to allow the coffee to express itself to the fullest without being overshadowed by too much roast taste. As you roast it darker, spice notes (cinnamon stick) develop, but citrusy brightness diminishes.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / white wine, transparant, sharp  
add 50 50 Roast: I like City+ (expect dark surface bean color for corresponding degree of roast). This has darker roast character at the City + stage than you might expect. See notes above.
Score (Max. 100) 90.6 Compare to: Clear, bright, crisp Kenya profile

Kenya Thika - Gethumbwini Peaberry
Country: Kenya Grade: Main Crop Auction Lot Region: Thika District Mark: Gethumbwini Estate
Processing: Wet Process Crop: July 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen, some flats Varietal: SL-28/-34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.5 Notes: Here's a name I was looking for in the auctions. I have cupped Gethumbwini coffees in the past, and usually been a day late or dollar short in obtaining them. There's no great shortage of this coffee. The farm is big, a true Estate. And many Gethumbwini lots I cupped over the Main Crop Auction season were a bit lacking, muted, lacking dynamism. This was the one lot that really jumped out at me: brighter than all the rest, fruited, dynamic, complex. It is a ripe, deeply-fruited Kenya, not exactly they Nyeri of Kirinyaga types of coffee. This cup is bright indeed, and initially citrusy, passing to ripe winey fruits in the aftertaste. The cup has an almost candylike sweetness in the wet aromatics, lushly fruited with a winey accent. The City+ roast has a toasty caramelly quality in the aroma that comes right through in the cup flavor, with ripe red grape. Juicy is a descriptor that makes a lot of sense in characterizing the cup. My Full City roast seemed to have more body than lighter roast levels, and had more moderate, more winey acidity. Frankly, it seems like a coffee that is going to let itself be heard through any level of roast (well, *bucks excepted). The finish is sweet, with ripe, winey fruit (I am repeating myself here), blackberry, black cherry, red grape. There are vanilla hints that are clear when I did a triangular blind cupping with other Kenya lots, but hidden in straight tastings. This lot does have a higher percentage of flat beans than a peaberry should (perhaps), but who cares: it's the cup quality I am interested in, and it's an outstanding lot.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9.0
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Ripe, bright fruit with winey accents  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ or Full City. I enjoyed both but Full City (the verge of 2nd crack without going into it) had a very deeply sweet aspect - the total package!
Score (Max. 100) 91.8 Compare to: One of those fruit-bomb Kenyas, bright and intense. Gethumbwini produces a lot of coffee, and some lots are quite flat … it was this particular peaberry that had bright, dynamic character. So we bought the entire lot!

Kenya AA Muranga - Kariani
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Murang'a, Aberdare Highlands Mark: Kariani Coffee Society
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Selection 28, 34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 4.4 Notes: Muranga is a district and a town located between the coffee growing regions of Thika and Nyeri. We have offered many Nyeri coffees and some from Thika too, but never a Muranga. The coffees have a lower acidity than Nyeri lots, with great depth of character. This lot is from a smaller coop (called a society in Kenya), Kariani (not related to the eastern district of Kariani). This lot jumped out for strong, sweet, candy-like fruited notes in the dry coffee grounds. There are blackberry jam notes with a soft milk chocolate undertone. add water and the sweetness intensifies. Again, blackberry, candy-like, syrupy, intensely sweet. When I say this cup has moderate acidity, that's speaking relative to other Kenyas; it is still quite lively and effervescent, especially at C+ roast. At FC roast the acidity is more integrated and mild. The dominant flavor, again, blackberry syrup, from the first sip through the finish. There is a bit of black currant in there, almost tea like as the cup cools. There is some dark chocolate lurking in the background, and the mouthfeel here is not a huge factor in the sensory impression of this coffee ... perhaps simply because the dominant sweet fruited notes are so strong. As the cup cools, a tangy bittersweetness lingers, reinforcing the dark chocolate aspect as well as the currant-laced black tea note. I tried roasts between City and Full City+. City seemed to lack the sweetness this coffee possesses.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 4.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/ Intensely sweet, blackberry syrup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City.
Score (Max. 100) 90.7 Compare to: Moderate acid Kenya cup with intense sweetness and fruited berry notes.

Kenya AA Kiambu - Kimathi - SOLD OUT
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Kiambu Mark: Kimathi Coffee Society
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Selection 28, 34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Kiambu is one of the five main growing regions in Kenya responsible for some of the finest, most dynamic coffees from this origin. This lot is from Kimathi Society, a small farmers cooperative that share wet-milling facilities for the coffee. (Society is the equivalent of Coop in Kenya). This is our very first arrival from the Main Crop Kenya Auctions of 2007, the first lot that really jumped out at me on the cupping table. I found uniquely sweet notes in the dry grounds hinting at what was to come: raisin sweetness, malted notes. At Full City there was something I could describe as "almond oil," and the wet aroamtics echoed the same sweet, fruited, raisiny qualities, and when broke the crust the grinds formed on the cup (in plainspeak, when I stirred the coffee to release the aromas) there was a burst of Concord grape juice! That came through clearly in the cup flavors too, sweet, dark grape juiciness, with a blackberry accent and a tad winey in the aftertaste. As the cup cooled, the fruited notes became almost candy-like, something that seemed perfectly described as "Fruit Loops". Seriously ... it's like a tropical fruit mix that has a slightly surreal aspect to it. There was orangey suggestions in the finish, but I wouldn't call this coffee overly citric. In fact, the acidity here is quite moderate for a top-tier Kenya, and in itself this might be an attractive charater for those who have found our Nyeri-region coffees just too lemony or grapefruit-like. I prefered FC roast over my usual favorite for Kenyas, which is City to City+. I did enjoy a gingerbread sweetness at City roast level, but thought the cup tasted a bit less dimensional, a little under-developed in it's sweetness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity*/ Sweet fruited notes (grape, Fruit Loops!), moderate acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City + roast - See the description
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Compare to: A Kenya with great depth, and not too much citric acidity

Kenya AA Kiambu - Kimathi
Country: Kenya Grade: AA Auction Lot Region: Kiambu Mark: Kimathi Coffee Society
Processing: Wet-Process Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Selection 28, 34
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Kiambu is one of the five main growing regions in Kenya responsible for some of the finest, most dynamic coffees from this origin. This lot is from Kimathi Society, a small farmers cooperative that share wet-milling facilities for the coffee. (Society is the equivalent of Coop in Kenya). This is our very first arrival from the Main Crop Kenya Auctions of 2007, the first lot that really jumped out at me on the cupping table. I found uniquely sweet notes in the dry grounds hinting at what was to come: raisin sweetness, malted notes. At Full City there was something I could describe as "almond oil," and the wet aroamtics echoed the same sweet, fruited, raisiny qualities, and when broke the crust the grinds formed on the cup (in plainspeak, when I stirred the coffee to release the aromas) there was a burst of Concord grape juice! That came through clearly in the cup flavors too, sweet, dark grape juiciness, with a blackberry accent and a tad winey in the aftertaste. As the cup cooled, the fruited notes became almost candy-like, something that seemed perfectly described as "Fruit Loops". Seriously ... it's like a tropical fruit mix that has a slightly surreal aspect to it. There was orangey suggestions in the finish, but I wouldn't call this coffee overly citric. In fact, the acidity here is quite moderate for a top-tier Kenya, and in itself this might be an attractive charater for those who have found our Nyeri-region coffees just too lemony or grapefruit-like. I prefered FC roast over my usual favorite for Kenyas, which is City to City+. I did enjoy a gingerbread sweetness at City roast level, but thought the cup tasted a bit less dimensional, a little under-developed in it's sweetness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.2
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity*/ Sweet fruited notes (grape, Fruit Loops!), moderate acidity  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City + roast - See the description
Score (Max. 100) 88.8 Compare to: A Kenya with great depth, and not too much citric acidity

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