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Sumatra - Aged Lintong

July 8, 2008

This coffee was roasted in a PID'd Sirocco "fluid bed" hot air roaster and was cupped blind against three other coffees including a control sample. After cupping, it was tasted as a brewed coffee and an espresso extraction. For more information on my sample roaster and method, see our reference page.

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When Upper Midwest Gourmet, a one-stop, wholesale distributor of specialty food, presented this coffee for review, I surmised that their roasterie (Quarry Microroasters) had purchased this coffee from the same source as the 2004 aged Lintong that we reviewed here a year ago, though perhaps not the same lot. So I was particularly curious to see how this really fine aged coffee fares as it ages even more. The difference is that this last year, the coffee aged in storage in the U.S. rather than in a climate controlled warehouse in Malaysia.

As it was a year ago, this coffee is unique. One can sense that, even while the coffee is roasting. The aromatics in the roaster and grinder are difficult to describe but filled with exotic spices and a special kind of sweetness.

In the cup there is bacon, tobacco, middle-eastern spices, chocolate and at the top end, berries and pineapple. And of course there is the ever-present smokiness so typical of these aged coffees from that corner of the world. As last year, the coffee retains its syrupy body but has ample acidity to keep the sweetness in balance

And here's the same cautionary note from last year: One might think that a dark roast would do this coffee justice but this is not so. Last year I made the mistake of roasting it to near second crack and the coffee lost its soul. Then, I stopped the roast, just out of first crack, and all of the qualities above, emerged. A great Sumatra will show its greatness, its sweetness and body at lighter roast levels. Over-roasting will nearly destroy its subtle flavors and bring a pungent woodiness.

Finally, as a single origin espresso, it was passable after a considerable amount of adjusting the grind and temperatures, but I would recommend using it in an espresso blend to add a touch of sophistication and interest to an otherwise ordinary combination of coffees.

Dry Fragrance: 4.3
Wet Aroma: 4.3
Flavor: 7.7
Finish: 7.7
Acidity: 7.6
Body: 7.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.4

  • Lighter Roasts: It is best enjoyed this way, with all of its complexity available.
  • Darker Roasts: Chocolate and caramel push the fruit aside. Not bad but not best.
  • As Espresso: Complex and sweet. Good acid-to-sweet balance but so unique that it is best used in a blend.


UPDATED: July 8, 2008