In QC-ing a few of the Shrub coffees this week, this Java stood out as cupping especially fresh and sweet. I figured that now is as good a time as any to write a short feature of sorts -- roast the coffee to a couple different roast levels, brew it a few different ways, jot down some notes, and share. Actually, that’s how we write most of our reviews, judging a coffees potential across a small range of roast levels. But it’s been a few months since we wrote the original review (end of January), and while we do our best to taste the coffees we sell throughout their proverbial ‘lives’ in our warehouse, we don’t normally follow up with you all about these results. So in the spirit of transparency, here is an updated look at Java Sunda - Gunung Patuha.
Both roasts were handled in a sample roaster, and so roast times and temperature settings aren’t transferable to production roasting. That said, we learn a lot about a coffee’s cup potential with our sample roasts, and are able to get a general sense of what type of roasting is complimentary. For this coffee, I roasted 90 gram batches, reaching first snaps at almost exactly seven minutes. The first roast was pulled two minutes after the start of first crack with just a few latent snaps in the tray - a solid City roast level. The second roast was taken to 10:00, a full minute longer than our City roast. It’s nowhere near 2nd snaps, and judging from color and taste, I’d call it just north of Full City.
Smelling the ground coffee, the sweetness is like brown bread baked with molasses - not overt ‘sugary’ sweet, but like baked goods - and a fair amount of ground cinnamon too. It has an aroma like steeping tea, and smells surprisingly fresh and clean. The cup is sweet up front, ‘clear’ like simple syrup, with brisk tea-like acidity. It’s a simple, balanced coffee at this roast level. But personally, I find the sweetness just slightly lacking in comparison to the roast nearing Full City, though it’s a brighter cup.
This roast level sees much more developed sweetness, a pungent, caramelizing bittersweetness of sugar burning in a pan. That’s the theme of this coffee at Full City, where bittering roast tones and molasses sugar sweetness strike a near-perfect balance. The cup is loaded with baking spices and chewy chocolate flavors (like Tootsie Roll) as it cools down a bit, and the finish has a flavor of Mexican spiced hot chocolate. There’s a subtle plum note too, but this plays much more of a background role to complex sugar and chocolate flavors.
All Brewed Up:
I brewed a pot of the FC roast in our mini Trifecta too, and the cup has juicy body and texture, with even more balance than found in the cupping spoon. We see this a lot, coffees showing one way on our cupping table can be surprisingly different when brewed. Cupping is an efficient way of evaluating several coffees at one time, but not always the best representation of the brewed experience customers have!
Shot in the Dark:
Well, not that dark, but Full City roasts of this coffee is a great starting point for espresso shots. Ristretto shots produce superb viscosity, a mouthfeel somewhere in between thick hot cocoa and chocolate syrup itself. There’s quite a bit of sweetness, and like the cup, it's counteracted by heavy, bittersweet cocoa notes. Great on it’s own, and I imagine will work well as a blend component (would fit in place of a chocolatey Central American coffee).
All in all, this coffee has fared these past three months in our warehouse quite well. Looking back on our original review, it scored 86.8 points, which still holds true today. This is largely due to the wonderful job of preparation by the group in west Java who we buy these "Sunda" coffees from. And though I did find two quakers in 180 grams of roasted coffee, the cleanliness found in the cup can be attributed to attention given to cherry sorting, wet processing, and the final dry milling stage. This is one of two Javas on Shrub right now, and when they're gone, we won't have more until the end of the year.