Bani Matar has beefy body, flavors of cola nut and dark cocoa, ripe blackberry, and sweet earthiness. The mouthfeel is buttery, rustic, and complimented by pungent chocolate bittersweetness. Full City to Full City+. Good for espresso.
Bani Matar is one of the few coffees from the growing regions surrounding the high-altitudes of Sana'a that was traditionally kept separate. All others were mixed to form "Sana'ani coffee" with decidedly mixed outcomes. But coffee in Bani Matar is a bit different, from the images I have seen, with tall old-growth trees that appear like a fruit orchard than a typical coffee farm (well, NO coffee production in Yemen looks like a coffee farm anywhere else!) It has also kept separate simply because of the traditional supply chain; The farmers and local collectors gathering coffee had primary allegiance to one meta-collector, Hamdani. When I traveled in Yemen last (quite a while ago!), the Matari coffees were not ready to cup yet, it was too early in the harvest. And after we were stranded in a mountain town in Ismaili overnight, our itinerary to visit Bani Matar was disrupted. Yet when our shipment of coffees that were a direct result of the trip finally arrived at the Port of Oakland, the Matari was a real standout coffee. This year it offers a different cup profile that the other regions. An intense cup that demonstrates a range of rustic flavors that combine into something uniquely favorable. And it's complex enough to hold a few surprises.
Bani Matar has a more savory-sweet cup than our other Yemeni coffees in 2015. The dry fragrance has striking earthy character from the start, with aromatic wood, spice and sweet tobacco. There's a rustic, cooked-sugar syrup sweetness in the wet aroma, and a trace of dried blueberry in the darker roasts. The cup is intense, complex and a bit bewildering to describe! There's something rural about Yemeni flavor profiles in general, with the suggestion of fresh-tilled earth, forage grasses, and woodsy flavors. This Matari has that loamy soil aspect, in compliment with a beefy, thick body underscored by very low acidity. As it cools I find more cola nut and dark cocoa, some dark blackberry peeking through. There's a buttery quality to the coffee in taste and mouthfeel, but more rustic, fresh and raw. The finish has a pungent chocolate bittersweet that pleasantly lingers, as well as smokey campfire notes. Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The Matari as Single Origin (SO) espresso is very dense: It reminds me quite a bit of 70% bittersweet chocolate.