Washed Ethiopian coffees from Yirgacheffe have been treating me so good lately that I’ve decided to stay, but we’re going to experience the region through the lenses of a new (to me) roaster, Denver’s Agape Roasting. I have a lot to share with you about this roaster and coffee, so let’s get slurping!
AGAPE ROASTING ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE KONGA BUUFATA
The word, agape, is a Greco-Christian term that basically translates to unconditional love, the highest form of love and charity. Like many coffee roasters, co-owner and roaster, Brad Baltz (the other half of Agape is Jen, Brad’s wife) got his start from an “aha” cup of coffee. As a non-coffee drinker, Brad and Jen ended up at Huckleberry Roasters in Denver and a cup of coffee there blew their minds. Brad went all in and, like so many of us, found Sweet Maria’s and ordered a small roaster and a few pounds of green coffee. Eventually Brad continued to develop his roasting skills and people began telling him that his coffee is as good as any they can buy. Around May 2013, Brad and Jen officially formed The Agape Roasting Project, with the idea that they would donate all of their profits to local charities. I have volunteered 6-9 hours per week seeing underprivileged patients in Kansas City for 10 years, so this kind of giving is pretty near and dear to my heart. At the same time, I am always a little cautious around “charity coffee” because all too often the coffee product being used to raise funds is sort of secondary and takes a back seat to the mission, which only leads to the early demise of the mission. The fact that Brad and Jen have been at it with Agape for years is a good sign!
A handful of local Denver businesses carry Agape coffee as wholesale accounts or to buy it on shelves. Agape gives 100 percent of their profits after covering costs to charities. In the current quarter, all profits are going to the Colorado Tick-Borne Disease Awareness Association and their total donations over the years are close to $17,000! They’ve supported an awesome list of charities over the years and it really is cool to see what they’re doing with coffee. But, at the end of the day, this is a coffee review site, and I don’t want to bury the lead too deeply, so make sure you hit the story links above for the full details on Agape Roasting and let’s check this coffee out!
This morning’s coffee comes from Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone, home to Yirgacheffe, Konga, Adado and a bunch of other coffee growing areas and processing mills. The last two coffees I reviewed were from the Yirgacheffe area, too, and they were killer, so I’m setting my expectations high for this region! This is another washed coffee from Konga, which is a mill named after the Konga Sede tribe. Konga has about 10 coffee mills and there are around 5000 smallholder farmers growing and collecting their coffee for processing at these mills. Konga is only a few kilometers away from Yirgacheffe, but it has its own microclimate and lemon citrus notes are a common find in the washed coffees from this area. This is a washed coffee consisting of multiple heirloom coffees (thousands of heirloom varieties grow readily in Ethiopia!) grown at over 1900masl. Agape Roasting gives us tasting notes of, “peach tea, sugar cookie, caramel, cranberry” for this coffee.
I used my usual 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of Third Wave Water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filter. My Handground grinder was set to 3 and this coffee is very dense and did want to slow down and nearly stall in the last 1/3 of the extraction or so, so I suggest keeping the coffee the amount of water over the coffee bed low and pouring vigorously to keep the grounds agitated and moving or they’ll try to form concrete in the bottom of your filter!
Aroma from this cup is pretty mild… I’m getting some caramel sweetness and hints of peach. Taking a sip, I get a lot of peach and a little bit of apricot tartness. There is a good amount of lemon acidity in this coffee, too, which dominates the middle part of the sip and adds a lot of brightness. There is plenty of sweetness in this coffee to offset the acidity and it’s fairly well-balanced, although I would say this is a brighter coffee as far as perceived acidity than the other recent washed Yirgacheffes I’ve had. That lemon acidity is almost like a lemon candy. It’s bright, lemony, a little tart, but also sweet and sugary. I’m also getting a lot of black tea flavors from this coffee. Often, for me, “tea-like” coffees, especially from this region, come with a bit of an astringent, drying mouthfeel on my palate. That’s not the case for this coffee. The finish is neutral to a little on the sweet side, so no astringency in this cup. Rather, it actually has a lot of tea flavors that I associate with black tea. There is a bit of bitterness that comes with that flavor component in this coffee, too (and let’s remember, coffee is inherently bitter) and I like that because it offers a counterpoint to the lemon acidity and caramel, peachy sweetness, as well as another dimension of complexity. I think that component gives this coffee a bit of a fuller mouthfeel and heavier presence on my palate than the other Yirgs I’ve reviewed recently.
This is a really nice coffee. It’s complex but still plenty drinkable, and it has that caramelized peachiness I love so much, good balance, some complex bitterness that I love, lemon candy acidity, a nice mouthfeel. There’s nothing to dislike in this Konga Buufata, for me. People always want to know, so I will say the other two Yirgacheffes I reviewed recently edge this one out as far as my personal preference, but we’re talking about three excellent coffees here and I would be more than happy to drink any of them, any day. There isn’t a loser or a bad note in the bunch and preferences are simply preferences. Give me these same coffees in two months and ask the same question and my preference may be a little different then. This coffee is a great introduction for me to Agape Roasting and I’m looking forward to the other coffees from them that I get to share with you shortly! This is “charity coffee” done right, with proper attention to the quality and handling of the product for consumers obviously taking a high place in Agape’s mission. With coffee like this, it’s an easy mission to support!