An intense cup, rustic sweet: molasses, date sugar, dried papaya and apricot. Accents of hickory chips, raw cacao nibs, and sweet leather-like hint. Cith+ to Vienna. Good for espresso. Best with at least 48 hours rest.
Ismaili is a "fabled" origin. Even in Yemen, in a local market in Sana'a, the spice-tea-qishr-coffee vendor told me his green beans (much of it broken "triage" coffee, mixed with cardamom pods) were truly special. "It's Ismaili coffee, " he said. I didn't mention that I slept on the floor of a villagers house the night before, in the mind-boggling vertical mountains of Ismaili, a landscape etched in stone with ancient terraces lined with ghat and coffee trees. The cup has always had a big spicy character, not the fruitiest Yemen coffee but with a unique flavor profile. It's amazing, with all the issues in Yemen, we were even able to get coffee exported. But here it is, cupping as well as ever.
It's Yemeni coffee, and as such, there's a real mix of bean size and quality. This equates to some roast variance (I'll even say 'complexity') in the lightest roast levels, and roast equalizing somewhere in the Full City range. City+ roasts show a mix of pungent papaya, dried banana, and raw cacao nib smells. More developed roasts move into scent of raisin and Turkish fig, along with some spice complexity, and fresh tobacco. The wet aroma is intense, with notes of baked fruits, pumpernickel bread, burned sugar, layered cocoa smells, and a sweet leathery accent. Yemeni coffee can be quite intense, and I think show best closer to Full City roast level. There's dried fruit in the cup like tamarind, apricot, and banana, and a pecan pie aroma. It has rustic sweetness, what you find in date sugar, brown rice syrup, and black strap molasses. There is a woody aspect too, like aromatic bark or sweet smoke from hickory. Full City+ roasts have a much more intense flavor profile with strong bittersweet notes throughout. Layered cacao flavors define the finish alongside hints of winey fruits. Dark roasts make a nice single origin (SO) espresso, and would also be a great component to an espresso blend. Whether cup or SO espresso, like all Yemeni coffee, Ismaili benefits from a few days rest. 48 hours is great but we found 72 hours to be best. This is even more true for espresso. With Ismaili it's fun to try a melange of 1/3 City+ roast and 2/3 FC or FC+ roast, either for drip or espresso.