My Tasting Review of Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Dark Roast Coffee

by Nigel Ong

I have had some of Green Mountain’s coffee, such as the Dark Magic and Breakfast Blend, and am quite happy about them. While those are more generic blends, I wonder how their single-origin coffee tastes. 

Hence, I picked up a Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve bag to try. 

In this review, I’ll brew the coffee several ways and then sample it. I’ll also compare the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve with relevant coffees to see how it would fare.

About Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve

From a humble beginning in Vermont in the early 1980s, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has grown into one of the leading specialty coffee companies in the United States. 

Today, most coffee drinkers would remember Green Mountain as one of the first adopters of the single-serve coffee pod market, such as the K-Cups. 

Green Mountain offers a wide array of coffee roasts catering to diverse tastes and preferences. Their selection spans from light to dark roasts, flavored coffees, and seasonal varieties, ensuring there’s a choice for every coffee lover. 

The Sumatra Reserve is one of its more popular dark roasts and a standout in Green Mountain’s lineup. It is known for its deep, earthy flavor profile with distinct herbal notes. It is also favored for its full body and low acidity, making it a smooth and hearty cup. 

Online reviews seem to appreciate the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve coffee for its rich, complex taste. Some also highlighted the coffee’s subtle spiciness and dark chocolate undertones. 

First Impression

You cannot miss Green Mountain’s coffee roasts on your grocery aisle. The hulk-like, bright green packaging never misses to catch my eye. This made me pick up a 10-ounce (about 283 gm) bag of the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast.

My bag comes with whole-bean coffee, allowing me to look at the beans well. Size-wise, they are quite even, without much breakage. This should help the coffee to roast evenly, producing a good flavor.

The 100% Arabica coffee beans look dark, with some matted shine. This means the beans are roasted dark but not to the point of drawing a lot of oil from the beans. That’s good to know since I generally dislike really dark beans.

Aroma-wise, the coffee is smoky and woody since it is a dark roast. However, I can pick up some green notes, similar to the smell when walking in the rainforest. 

OK, enough with the observing. Let’s get brewing.

How Does Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Taste?

To sample Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast, I will brew it in three ways.

The idea is to try the coffee out in three major brewing processes – immersed, filtered, and concentrated.

French Press: This should make a cup of murky, full-flavored coffee with many fine, floating particles. This should allow me to sample the coffee in all its ‘glory.’ I expect a full, strong, and smoky flavor with this brew.

Pour Over With Filter Paper: This method produces a ‘cleaner’ version of the coffee without too much oil and particles floating about. Without too much smoke, the more subtle notes should come out.

Espresso: Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast is a dark roast, which means trying it as Espresso only makes sense. I want to see how intense it can be and how it tastes compared to regular Espresso. 

French Press

I made my cup of French press brew using my trusty Bodum Caffettiera. It’s one of the best French presses and performs well.

As usual, I combined 15 grams of coffee and 180ml of steaming hot water, just shy of 185°F. That’s about 85°C if you prefer metric. I then stir the grounds well and let it all brew for 4 minutes before pouring the coffee.

When I brew the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast, the aroma shows the coffee’s character quite well. It greets me with an earthy aroma with a tinge of jungle-like notes. The coffee itself appears darker, with a bit of transparency.

I taste a strong, smoky note on the first sip, with some earthy, grassy, and ‘jungle-like’ flavors. As I continue, the jungle-like notes become a bit familiar, becoming something mossy and mushroom-like. 

Perhaps this is the herbal notes that Sumatran coffee is well known for. There is little acidity, as the coffee does not taste pronounced sour.

The coffee also leaves a lasting impression with a robust finish. It trails off with a slightly sweet aftertaste that reminds me of cherries.

Pour Over With Filter Paper

Next, I made a cup of pour-over coffee using my usual gear: 

  • IKEA Overst Coffee Pour Over Set
  • Hario Coffee Filter Paper
  • IKEA Riklig Glass Pot

Again, I use my usual brewing method, as shared by Starbucks. I kept to a simple 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio and used water just below boiling to make my pour.

This Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast pour-over cup came out a bit lighter and not as robust as my French press brew. 

It’s also a bit lighter in color, thanks to fewer fine particles. I noticed fewer grounds when I looked through my clear glass cup from the bottom. The filter paper stepped up, straining the extra oils and tiny bits.

However, this does not mean it has turned into a medium roast – it still delivers a hit if you are not used to dark roasts.

This tweak toned down the smoky and woody notes, making the coffee less intense. The lighter tastes also allow the herbal, jungle-like notes of the coffee to show up more. 

And there’s a bonus – the cherry-like sweetness also stands out more, giving me that extra bit of niceness in flavor. However, I still prefer the French press brew, as the whole ‘dirtiness’ seems more satisfying to drink.

Espresso

For the Espresso, I turned to my trusty Wacaco Minipresso GR. This hand-held espresso maker just does a very good job pumping fresh Espresso without needing electricity or battery power.

My cup of Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast espresso is beautiful, with rich, creamy, and fluffy crema. On its appearance alone, it should not be a problem to compete head-to-head with barista Espressos.

Aroma-wise, it is smoky, with a tinge of grassy, jungle-like note. 

I took a sip and immediately found the Espresso rather polarizing. The herbal notes are stronger in the espresso form, and to me, you may either like or hate this. 

I am more towards hating it, as the coffee becomes a bit odd in taste. However, if you like herbal notes in your coffee, you need to try this coffee in espresso form.

Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve vs. Popular Dark Roasts

Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast is a dark roast coffee, so I should compare it against other dark roasts I have in my collection. 

I brewed French press coffee out of these dark roasts. Then I drank them one after the other alongside the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve to compare their taste:

Again, I would rank Major Dickason first, with Dunkin second. These coffee roasts just deliver a more balanced flavor, together with the regular intensity of a dark roast. 

The Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve cannot match this as it is a single-origin coffee. Its herbal notes are too edgy and may not suit many tongues. 

I will put it last, neck to neck with the Dark Magic. Both are still good dark roasts and may be ranked higher if tested with different taste buds.

Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve vs Sumatran Coffee

Since I have a couple of Sumatran coffees in my collection, I’ll also compare them head-to-head. Again, I brewed French press coffee out of these roasts and drank them one after the other with the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve to compare flavors:

I would say this is the battle of grassy, herbal coffee. From this list, my palate seems to enjoy the Sumatran Lintong Coffee the most, with the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast second. 

The Lintong roast has some herbal notes but is not too strong, making it a more rounded coffee. In many ways, I think many drinkers would enjoy it over, say, the Starbucks or the Green Mountain roasts. 

Is Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve For You?

After extensively trying out the Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve Roast, I found this to be an intense cup of coffee with an herbal, grassy twist. 

I would not consider this a daily go-to coffee unless you really like your coffee to taste herbal. 

Many dark roasts with rounded flavors can be turned into your regular coffee out there. Consider Dunkin Midnight or Major Dickason.However, if you find dark blends boring, coffee with edgy flavors may just be what you need. Pick up a bag and see how you’ll react to it. Get your Green Mountain Sumatra Reserve here on Amazon.

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