Intense and complex with dark brown sugar sweetness, semi-sweet chocolate, pomegranate juice, and tart acidic brightness. It's a potent cup for a Central, darker roasts have peppery and zesty spice notes in the finish. City+ to Full City+.
I found the coffee does exceptionally well under a wide range of roasts: C+ to FC+: all levels have good pungency and chocolate, so I would tend toward C+ /FC with no second crack at all. For best aromatics, I like 12-24 hour rest, but for body and balance I like a longer 72 hour rest after roasting.
There's some debate about what coffee is the most exclusive, rarest, and most outstanding in the cup, a debate I always find particularly boring. There is no single "excellent coffee" out there; it's not a mountain you scale that culminates in one peak, and one perfect little cup of coffee waiting for you on top. If you market coffee packaged in a wine bottle, grown on a trellis, or scavenged from rodent excrement, it doesn't make it good coffee (or even rare). Further, if you try to distinguish a set of truly excellent coffees, carefully processed, with dynamic cup character, you still end up with no single winner, since excellence in coffee means suiting the polymorphous aspects of the human senses. Luckily, great coffees are as diverse as our senses used to appreciate them. But if there is single coffee lot we buy each year that probably has more more work invested in each seed contained within. Like no other small-lot coffee I have tasted (or even heard about), Aida's Grand Reserve is the product of careful selection, harvesting, picking, processing, and blending. Yes, blending, just as a master vintner might blend from particular parts of an estate to achieve a special reserve, Aida has selected pickings from her 3 small farms, Finca Kilimanjaro, Los Alpes and Mauritania, cupped and blended them to form the Grand Reserve. This involves traditional wet processing, as well as a "raisin coffee" component, in which the coffee cherry is allowed to dry partly on the tree, until the red exterior darkens and wrinkles slightly. You get the feeling with this lot that every single little green bean was inspected under a microscope and chosen for this lot.
Aida's Grand Reserve is no lightweight Central. The dry fragrance is intense, with layers of strawberry, dried apricot, all-spice, and fresh cream. The wet aromatics have ample amounts of bittersweet cacao, dried cherry, strawberry, and at darker roast levels, ripe plum, and Monukka Raisin. The cup has character you might find in a sweet Kenya - a Kirinyaga-region coffee for example - with winey dark fruited notes, and subtle, sweet fruits like concord grape, plum, and ripe Bing cherry. There's a dark brown sugar sweetness that turns to semi-sweet chocolate in the finish. The lighter roast we cupped tasted like pomegranate juice, with a bright and sweet flavor profile, almost tart in the acidic brightness. It's a potent cup for a Central, and my FC roast had peppery and zesty spice notes in the finish. While the long aftertaste has this pungency, once it cools the cup leaves a very "juicy" last impression.