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Java Blawan

November 29, 2005

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

"Cuppa Java please." Java was never the biggest selling coffee in the US at any time in its history; Brazil takes that honor. Yet the name has become synonymous with coffee itself. I may be a romantic, but I think it has something to do with the taste of Java: no dramatic highs or lows, nothing unusual or surprising, just a lot of body and a lot of coffee taste. This may sound non-descript; yet a good Java is dead easy to identify in a blind cupping. It's the one that tastes like coffee.

In the past decade, coffee professionals have bemoaned the loss of quality in Java coffees, especially from the government plantations, which were once a watchword for quality and sold for premium prices. At specialty coffee roasters, Java has been replaced by its country cousins, Sumatra, PNG and Sulawesi. In the last few years, there's been a small turn around, and better Javas are being produced.

In addition to what Jim has said, as mentioned in an earlier review of this estate's coffee, there are at least six government-run coffee estates in Java, the more well-known among them being Blawan. Pancur, Djampit and Kayumas. Cupped samples from some of the other estates, this year, were mediocre and good Java has been difficult to find. But Blawan maintains its high and consistent quality.

Jim: While not a powerhouse, this is a good Java, well worth trying if you haven't had one in the past. It is heavy bodied, has a nearly platonic coffee taste with just the faintest hint of earthiness and was immediately identifiable in the blind cupping. It will work at any roast level north of charcoal, gaining in intensity as one takes it darker. Since the taste is fairly impervious to roast level, I would recommend a Full City to the start of a rolling second, where body and caramels are maximized. The taste also seems impervious to brewing style; even the espresso shot tasted much like regular coffee. I especially recommend this bean for those who like their coffee with cream or their espresso with a dab of frothed half and half.

This coffee remains consistent in quality with low acidity, heavy body, excellent balance, nuanced, complex flavors, bassy/earthy notes and a hint of dark chocolate in the finish. It is very clean and classic for a Java and blends well with higher-toned coffees for a great mocha/java-style drink.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 2.5
Wet Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 7.5
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 5.5
Body: 8.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 85.5

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.0
Wet Aroma: 4.1
Flavor: 7.6
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 6.5
Body: 7.9
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 87.6

  • Lighter Roasts: Mild tasting, clean, very mildly earthy
  • Darker Roasts: More intense roast coffee flavors.
  • As Espresso: Very much like brewed coffee, lovely with a little frothed half and half.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005