and a happy holiday to all of you!
i began yesterday morning with another cup of oren's fantastic jamaica blue mountain. i really have to talk about this coffee in some detail because it's really sparked an entire meditation on the coffee cupping concept of ashy/mineral.
it's clear, i think, from drinking o's rws jbm that is grown in some powerful volcanic soil — it has the floral fragrance, brightness, and a "mineral" taste that comes from being grown in a pumice-type soil. to continue the description, it also has a lovely caramel aroma and a super silky smoothness.
what it doesn't have is a strong cocoa character in the aftertaste — so if that's a prominent sensation you seek in all your jbm's you won't find it here. oren's setting up a different, more elegant experience here.
the overall balance of the coffee is remarkable, if you are a careful enough taster to appreciate such structural poise, which i believe is a hallmark of oren's general coffee style. the issue here is how to describe that volcanic mineral taste, which we seek in coffees of this type.
here's also a moment to consider the difference between us specialty cuppers, who search out positive nuance, as opposed to commercial-grade cuppers, who primarily seek defects and taints. i mean, if a commercial cupper finds a nice flavor, you'll see them write "good mild" or something on their cupping sheet. but they just aren't concerned with these aromas the way specialty folks are; they're just not in that business.
most specialty cuppers will use the term ashy to mean the sensation a very dark roast can give a coffee's aftertaste. they are trying to use this term in a positive way, to describe a pleasant, soft, dark roast characteristic, as opposed to carbony, which we all agree is all bad. carbony = the mermaid. avoid that.
commercial cuppers however use the term ashy to describe this volcanic soil flavor, and this is where the confusion can arise, should a specialty cupper try to discuss a jbm with a commercial cupper. this is why i prefer to use the term "mineral," esp. since i do believe this flavor is due to the pumice in the soil.
this is one of those times you just wish flament talked more about soil conditions in the final coffee flavor chemisty, you know? altho' it's been quite chic for the past few years to discuss the terroir of coffee — and as here in oren's jbm, the terroir can show — but in general, processing, roasting, and preparation also have a huge effect on what the coffee lover finds in a cup.
the effect of terroir can often be quite muted in coffee by these factors; whether you think this is an issue or not pretty much shows where you stand on the fine coffee idea map.
even as i consider this, i must say, i'm enjoying doppio macchiati of andrew's ecco brazil, the fazenda cachoieta i received this week. just a wonderful single-origin espresso! and it is marked by a strong dutch cocoa aftertaste!