Finding a really good Grade One Mandheling is tough, at the same time that there is an abundance of this coffee at every coffee warehouse, and on every broker's list. It's easy for anyone to get a bag of skunky old Mandheling. The problem arises when you want really good Mandheling. Buy too early in the crop cycle and you will get a melange of early new crop (not good ...low grown) and past crop coffee (even worse). You have to look at a lot ... a LOT... of samples, and cup them hard, to find a lot that is true to the classic Mandheling cup. Then again, you need to know what that cup is supposed to be! 15 years ago I remember roasting Mandhelings that really had the classic cup character that defined the origin ...back when Specialty coffee was itself being defined in the U.S. First off, it actually looks like a Grade One, and when I screen it in my lab and count the defects, it actually grades as one. This might sound idiotic, but it is the first lot of the year that I evaluated that read Grade 1 on the bag and actually was Grade 1! (Grading is done by cup defect in Sumatra, not appearance, which only partially explains the disconnected logic here). Another factor that makes our Sumatra Classic special is the fact that it comes from old-growth Sumatra Typica trees and one specific location, not pooled from coffees in various regions, and not of mixed cultivars. Anyway, this lot has nice preparation with much less percentage of defects than we have seen in recent seasons. Yes, it has that aggressive, woody, wet-earth character. But it also has a sweetness, mild fruitiness, a caramel roast taste that has a creamy, chocolate dimension to it as well. The finish goes toward the bittersweet, with a pungent (peppery spice) quality emerging, reminding you of the deep, heavy-handed cup character that epitomizes Sumatra. It has a bit of all the defining Sumatra flavors wrapped together in one coffee, and maintains a balance between them. Most people might taste this and just say, "Boy, that's nice Sumatra". That's fine, that's perfect in fact. Sumatra really doesn't have to draw that much attention to itself. I really enjoy the depth and balance of this cup, qualities that I haven't enjoyed this much in a Grade One Mandheling for while.