Serving the Roasting Community with Expert Independent Reviews



Sumatra - Aged

October 21, 2006

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.

When steam ships sped the transport of Indonesian coffees to Europe and America, many coffee lovers were disappointed by the taste of these much fresher beans. So since then, a portion of the crop has been aged in warehouses that duplicates the conditions of the sailing boats. Nowadays, well aged Indonesians are prized by regular coffee drinkers who want heavy bodied, low acid coffees, and also for adding complexity to ultra-premium espresso blends. However, aged Sumatras are a very mixed bag; most samples are skunky, and only a few can be considered specialty grade. Jim roasted this sample 10 farenheit further than his regular cupping roasts, not quite to the second crack, since these coffees are usually used in espresso or roasted well into the second crack, and he wanted an accurate take on how the roast flavors develop. Bob roasted lighter for cupping, stopping between 1st and 2nd crack and roasted just to 2nd crack for further evaluation.

Jim's Review:
The dry aroma is classic coffee, but this blooms to a deep toned mix of vanilla, oak and camphor in the cup. These "old wine" aromas are amplified in the taste, where a slight astringency pleasantly structures the flavors. There is plenty of molasses sweetness to keep the cup thoroughly pleasant. The finish is sweet with a hint of salt. This is a very heavy bodied cup, as is usual for aged coffees, and there is enough acidity to keep it from being syrupy, but not enough, at this roast level, to affect the taste or tingle the tongue.

All in all, this is not an overly aged coffee, but more a very clean and mellow Sumatra. This makes it a relative rarity, an aged coffee that extracts fairly well as a single origin espresso rather than gushing even when ground ultra-fine. The taste as a shot is pleasant, but very biased towards low woody tones. It will work very well to add an "oak aged" complexity in blends.

Additional Notes by Bob:
I prefer this coffee roasted on the light side. There, we find a very clean cup, almost Colombian in it's classic quality, with surprising and delightful acidity (surprising for an aged coffee) and notes of dates, figs and milk chocolate, spice and the woody quality of which Jim speaks, to fill in the bass section.

Roasted darker, into or near 2nd crack, the attractive woodiness seems to take on a musty, pungent quality with some potato notes present. For my enjoyment, I'd keep it relatively light.

Bobs Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.3
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 7.6
Acidity: 7.0
Body: 7.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.2

Jim's Score

Dry fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 5.5
Body: 9.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.0

  • Lighter Roasts: Vanilla and camphor aromatics
  • Darker Roasts: Oak and mollases grow more prominent
  • As Espresso: Like the vanilla oak in an aged wine, even works as an SO


UPDATED: October 21, 2006