Ninety Plus Coffee

Andrew Pautler

Ninety Plus Coffees

Disclosure: Pull & Pour received coffee samples for this post, however, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Ninety Plus Coffee has become a legend in specialty coffee as a company that pushes the boundaries of what is possible with growing and processing coffee. Their experimental processing methods have resulted in some astounding flavor profiles. I recently got to try their full suite of Signature and Innovation coffees and can honestly say they were the most unique coffees I’ve ever had. Not all of them were necessarily my favorite, but most were astounding and some of the most exotic coffees I’ve ever had the privilege to try. I thought it would be fun to share a bit more about Ninety Plus Coffee, how they started doing what they are doing and some of my notes on each of the various coffees I tasted.

A Brief History of Ninety Plus Coffee

Ninety Plus Coffee was founded by Joseph Brodsky in 2006. Joseph originally began by growing coffee in Ethiopian and then moved to the western slopes of the Barú volcano in Panama. From the beginning Joseph has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible with coffee both in the way it is grown and the way it is processed. Ninety Plus coffees have won or reached the finals of the World Coffee Championships nearly 30 times, which is unprecedented.

They currently have two estates—Gesha Estates and Barú Estates where they grow coffee in Panama. The Gesha Estates was the first property Brodsky acquired in 2009 and where he worked to reforest the area and plan Ethiopian Gesha coffee trees in the canopy of the forest.

Ninety Plus Coffee Series

Ninety Plus currently offers five series of coffees: Ascent, Signature, Innovation, Limited Edition and Founder’s Selection (ordered by exclusivity and price, least to greatest). I was able to try the full suite of Signature and Innovation coffees. The coffees range from $9 / 100g (Kopi Kan from the Ascent series) to an outstanding $250 / 10g (#2703 from the Founder’s Selection). #2703 is the rarest and highest price coffee in the world, selling at $450 per 18g brew.

The series break down as follows:

  • Ascent: Least expensive point of entry coffees
  • Signature: Renowned coffees
  • Innovation: Rare and prototype coffees
  • Limited Edition: Limited batches available for short time
  • Founder’s Selection: Rarest and best coffees

My Tasting Notes

Below are some of my unrefined, “stream of tasting” notes for trying each of the Ninety Plus coffees currently in the Signature and Innovation series. The coffees featured some of the most poignant and robust aromas and flavor profiles I had ever had and challenged what I thought possible in a coffee.

Lotus

  • Fragrance: Intense tropical fruit, almost sickly sweet
  • Intensity in fragrance I’ve never smelled in a coffee
  • Slightly musky/earthy, but also sweet during brewing
  • Flavor profile: wild, sweetness of fermented fruit, tropical fruit, dark berries
  • Light body, smooth
  • Muted acidity, stronger at end

Lycello

  • Fragrance: Grassy, earthy, mint and fruit
  • Flavor profile: subtle fruit, strong mint notes as the coffee cools, strongest in finish
  • Minty gum sparkling acidity
  • Light body

Carmo

  • Very, very light roast
  • Fragrance: intense pineapple & tropical fruit
  • Very sweet
  • Light body
  • Flavor profile: Pineapple dominant, tropical fruit
  • Sweetness: rich, tropical fruit, caramel
  • Lingering finish with sweetness

Tigre

  • Boozy bourbon fragrance
  • Fragrance reminded me 100% of Tiramisu (creamy, caramel, coffee, chocolate, boozy)
  • Crisp & bright
  • Slightly boozy
  • Flavor profile: Tiramisu still coming through, bourbon soaked cherries, caramel, chocolate
  • Somewhat sharp profile

Yuzo

  • Beans look almost spotted for the roast, unlike anything I’ve see before
  • Fragrance/Aroma: Sweet, somewhat tropical (pineapple), Lemon drop
  • Incredibly fast flow through, initially ground at normal size and brewed 2x faster than normal
  • Flavor profile: Dry white wine, lemon citrus
  • Light, tea-like body
  • Muted acidity
  • Dry finish

Kambera

  • Fragrance: sweet, slightly tropical (pineapple, mango), pear
  • Aroma: sweet, tropical, slightly boozy
  • Flavor profile: Pineapple, subtle boozy notes
  • Intense sweetness
  • Fairly light body
  • Dry finish, but with lingering sweetness

Perci

  • Fragrance: sweet, slightly funky, fermented, pineapple, granny smith apple
  • Flavor profile: Intense, dry white wine into sweet apple, subtle tropical fruit
  • Very sweet as coffee cools
  • Unique, but not my favorite overall

Ubo

  • Fragrance: sweet, tropical fruit, blueberries
  • Aroma: sweet, somewhat tropical
  • Flavor profile: honeydew melon, cherry, berries, tropical fruit
  • Wonderful flavor combination, mixture of lot of different fruit-forward flavor notes
  • Extremely sweet
  • Less unique from some of the others, but likely one of my favorites

Ruby

  • Fragrance: sweet, fruity, slightly funky
  • Aroma: slightly musky at bloom
  • Flavor profile: sour like grapefruit (unexpected at first sip), musky
  • Light to medium body
  • Sparkling finish, musk lingers
  • Not sure if I I liked this one

Juliette

  • Fragrance/Aroma: slighty sweet, subtle orange and chocolate, creamy, not as strong as other coffees in the set
  • Flavor profile: Orange citrus, Marshmallowy
  • Sweet, creamy, smooth body
  • Incredibly tasty, but less unique than the others
  • Sweetness grows as coffee cools
  • Lingering acidity sparkle in aftertaste

Nekisse

  • Fragrance: Funky sweetness, berries & apricot, strong
  • Aroma: Musky chocolate, sweet
  • Flavor profile: Musky undertones, berries, stone fruit, citrus fruit (wonderfully strange mix of characteristics of all of them)
  • Funky sweetness
  • High acidity, pucker at initial sip

Conclusion

As you can see from the descriptions above, the Ninety Plus coffees were some of the most exciting you’ll likely ever drink. They are truly a wonderful array of a lot of different flavors and characteristics. If you are looking for an occasional treat or fun way to explore some crazy coffees, Ninety Plus Coffee is the best place to look. The price points are definitely prohibitive though and as you move into and then past the Innovation series I’d find it hard to justify spending that amount of money on such a small amount of coffee—no matter how special it is.

Coffee cherries on the Ninety Plus Coffee estates
Photo credit: Ninety Plus Coffee
Free Download

Download the free, printable coffee brew guide cheatsheet

  • Quick reference for ratios, water temp & brew times
  • 8 brew methods including chemex, V60, aeropress & more
  • Serving sizes and tips for each brew method
The Coffee Brew Guide Cheatsheet preview