Aged coffees are exotic, and might be a bit of an acquired taste. The cup is intense and peppery with strong charred notes that fade into dark syrupy sweetness, herbs, mint, aromatic wood and spiced rum. The aftertaste is where this coffee is so complex with a long finish. Full City to Full City+.
This 2007 crop of aged Sumatra Aceh coffee comes to us from Pawani, an exporter in Northern Sumatra who within the last decade have been one of the more renowned suppliers of Indonesian coffee in the world. This year they're offering a "true" aged Sumatra coffee, in that it's been stored for a time that is more in-line with the history of how this type of coffee processing came about. Aged coffees from Indonesia have a long history; in the age of sail-powered marine transportation, everything arrived on US shores as aged coffee. Over time in the ship's hold, the coffee turned color, and became seasoned with a host of flavors, some desirable and some certainly not. It's no surprise that the time it took to get from port to port increased the coffee's value. At this time Indonesian coffee fetched upwards to $0.27/lb, whereas Central and South American coffees cost around $0.03/lb. Now coffee is specially aged to transform the flavors - in fact this lot was aged 5 years in stainless steel vats, not in jute bags. Aged coffee is not just old, past-crop coffee. It is monitored during aging, regularly rotated and cupped for flavor as time goes by. This isn't to say that aged Indonesian coffees are necessarily "better", but they definitely have a cup profile that is truly unique to the other coffees we offer. Pawani has done a great job in emulating this historic processing method, and their patience has resulted in a truly unique Indonesian coffee unlike any other.
Aged coffees are exotic, and might be a bit of an acquired taste. The first sip of an aged coffee might come as a shock, until your taste buds adapt themselves to the extreme flavors: intense, deep, savory, woody, syrupy, rustic. Aged coffees are well-suited to darker roast levels, and I must say I do not find the City roast of this coffee very agreeable. It needs the intense and brooding weight of darker roasting to pair the origin flavors of the bean in this case. It also needs to rest! Aged coffees improve greatly after 3-4 days out of the roaster. The ground coffee has an unusual fragrance; barley malt, hickory wood, caramel, rustic chocolate and spice. The wet aroma is slightly challenging. It has a foresty note that borders on swampy, but in the dark roast a deep caramelized sugar scent comes through with rum raisin pudding. The cup is so intense. You need time to recover from the first sip. Immediately the coffee seems peppery, hot, with some strong charred notes, but they fade into dark syrupy sweetness. Savory-sweet balance comes through, dark liquor syrupy notes, herb and mint, aromatic woody tastes, spiced rum ... it's all there, and more. The aftertaste is where this coffee is so complex, and I can literally sit for 5 or ten minutes after the coffee is off my palate, and sense different complex arrangements of flavor. This coffee is unique too because many flavors are sapid but difficult to pin down, and many occur on the palate, in the range between bittering and savory, rather than volitile aromas that are sensed in the olfactory. It's an interesting experience, this Aged Sumatra Aceh, and one you might find infinitely pleasing ... or maybe not. Try a small amount and find out.