A complex and surprisingly bright coffee, mild at first but intensifies greatly as it cools. It falls between the clean brightness of a washed Central and the rustic flavors and body of an Indo coffee. It seems to do well with any roast level. The body is thick, especially considering it is a wet-process coffee. City+ to Full City+ and darker.
Wet-process India arabica coffees are very mild coffees when they are correctly picked and processed. But much of the coffee is grown at relatively low altitudes and poorly processed and prepared. There is a lot of regular commercial grade India arabica. Even when well done, the coffees can be "softish" physically and in flavor. Soft coffees from low altitudes are more difficult to roast (especially in small home roasters I believe). The result can be ashy flavors, and greater risk of scorching or tipping the coffee. So I was quite delighted to cup this coffee from Poabs Organic Estate, traditionally called Seethargundu. There is almost too much to say about the farm's wholistic approach, which goes far beyond it's Organic certification. In order to do agriculture right, they believe in diversity and not mono-cropping, so they have tea, cardamom, all types of pepper, a dairy, a fish farm, poultry, biodynamic herbs and extensive composting. It is one of only 2 Demeter Biodynamic certified coffee farms in the world, the state. When the Poabs Group took over in 1989, the Seethargundu estate was in a derelict condition, existing in an abandoned state for 16 years. They also had labor disputes with the former owner to resolve. There is far too much information about the farm to replay here, but they have their own web site http://www.poabsorganic.com . It's all well and good (and odd too, since Poabs also has business in rock quarries and manure), but for me I can't buy coffee just for the story behind it. It has to be about the cup quality or the backstory is not relevant. But this coffee is impressive in the cup.
This is the nicest wet-process India I have cupped in a couple years. The aromatics form an intriguing and complicated sensual image, in anticipation of the cup flavors. The dry fragrance has a clean nutty tone in its roast aspect, and unique spices. The fragrance is almost savory, and reminds me of Kefta spice mix, with aromatic wood scents as well. The wet aroma is slightly fruited with baked apple, with cinnamon and allspice. The cup is complex, loaded with exotic spices as well as possessing a striking brightness. In fact, I feel unqualified to describe this unique blend of savory spices. There is sage, cardomom, a little cumin, cinammon stick, as well as dried coffee fruit (qishr, cascara), apple cider ... it's complex! While somewhat rustic, like a dry-processed coffee, it is also accented with a clean and well-defined fruit acidity. And this persists throughout the roast range; I had trouble telling which were the lighter roasts and darker roasts because of this remarkable and consistent brightness from City+ through Full City+. It seems to do well with any roast level. The body is thick, especially considering it is a wet-process coffee. It finishes with a potent sweetness, somewhat rustic and cedary, but clean. There is just a tiny bit of campfire/woody flavor in the long aftertaste of FC+ roast. This is an exciting tasting experience for a cupper, and hopefully for a more casual taster too.