and at long last i awoke this morning faced with the last of james' blue bottle blends, "giant steps." i didn't cup this coffee formally, due to its dark roast level, but just made it in a cafetiére (a.k.a. french press).
devoted readers know what i'm going to say next: refer henceforth to your scaa flavor wheel. . .
giant steps seemed to me to be the most darkly roasted of all the coffees james sent, high vienna to low espresso, with large patches of oil.
the fragrance of the dry grounds was strictly floral. stirring the coffee in the cafetiére, i was struck by a strong maple-syrup note. it's this syrup thing that causes james, i think, to remark that you could "pour this coffee on pancakes."
on tasting, the coffee offered a sense of sweet allspice, a swing of dutch cocoa, and an intense black pepper aftertaste.
adding my usual tablespoon of light cream and pinch of raw sugar emphasized the cocoa element, moving it more to a real deep milk-chocolate-y feeling. the black pepper was still noticeable but not as prominent, and the coffee left me with a moist, mouth-watering finish.
this rich coffee's definitely sweet and mellow tasting, with a heavy sumatra component. james says the blend also contains uganda, which i suspect is the source of the chocolate-like feeling, particularly if it's a bugisu.
both sumatra and uganda tend to have thick, heavy bodies, and i found this coffee was true to type here in the french press: thus james' own descriptor "fudgy." as a testament to james, even tho' this coffee is now 10 days old, it still bloomed strongly.
i'm one of those people who doesn't particularly like bugisu by itself. i think it's best as a blending coffee -- if i want earthy, funky and soulful i'll go straight for a sumatra lintong.
bugisu often seems just like a lesser sumatra to me in that regard. and this is what make this blend so interesting. two similar-in-a-certain-way types of beans put together. . .yet they modify each other in a not-quite-expected manner. . .
in fact i was expecting a stronger sense of "funk" from this blend, but age might have diminished these "muddy" flavors.
i was intrigued by giant steps, and i think most sumatra lovers would be. but if you like brighter, clearer, cleaner coffees, this one probably won't have your name written on it.