This Sufia Robusta is one of the nicer Robustas we've seen in a while. Relatively clean expressions of barley and roasted grain, followed by a flavor of unsweetened baker's cocoa in the finish. There's even an ever-so-slight sweetness in there, very unusual for Robusta. A great option for blending, as well as interesting to try on it's own - one of the finer examples. Full City to Vienna.
We haven't offered Robusta coffee on our website for a while now. In general, it's a much less expensive coffee than arabica. Add to that the fact that we only use about 20 bags a year in blends, and you don't have much ground for making demands for better selection and processing. But the folks at Karnataka plantation do a great job at selecting different grades of Robusta, and their upper tier "Sufia" is quite visibly one of the better Robusta coffees we've seen in some time (the first pic is presorting cherry before pulping). The coffee is sourced by Karnataka in the city of Chickmagalur, at the foothills of Mullayanagiri range, probably the most famous coffee region in India. The Karnataka folks used to just buy from one growing group, but have since cast a much wider net, where some of the value is in their ability to increase selection, and putting together premium blends. Not without defect, this coffee is fairly uniform in color and size, and roasts quite even - not many quakers at all (a problem we usually see in the samples sent to us). Definitely an interesting coffee to try on its own, and an opportunity to use an actual high quality Robusta in an espresso blend. And really, don't shy away from trying as is - one of our co-workers here put it best when saying, "Wow! It doesn't even really taste like coffee". There's a lot of truth to that, and it resembles an way-too over extracted barley tea, or something of that nature. I could actually see drinking this with sugar and being quite pleasant!
It's a Robusta, so don't expect overwhelming (or even underwhelming!) sweetness, but this one has some cleanliness and definition lacking in many of the Robusta samples we've seen. They do an amazing job at Karnataka with preparation, and this Sufia is of the top tier from their Robustas. The dry grounds smell nutty, like boiled peanut and ginger, a bit of roasted nut shell too. Overall, the aromatics are low, but with some grain-sweetness, barley tea and such, especially in the wet grounds. As a cup it echoes many of the aforementioned attributes, offers body, and an actually "clean" finish for a canephora coffee - at least an abrupt finish. Robusta as a blend component ought to be used sparingly, and not take away from the arabicas with which it's blended. 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 the cup too much. Robustas have less aroma that arabicas, but this lot actually has a nice, dark, mildly sweet note to it. The aftertaste is extremely long and persistent, turning pungent in the finish as would a bittersweet chocolate.