Brandywine Coffee Roasters – Hambela Estate Natural

posted in: processing, reviews | 0

Brandywine Process Series Natural

Readers of my blog know I’m a sucker for cool packaging and when I started seeing photos on Instagram of bags of coffee with cool printing tied together and having wax seals dripped on them, I was sold! It turns out that the coffee in question is Brandywine Coffee Roasters’ current Process Series and they were nice enough to send one out to me to sample and share with my readers!

Brandywine Coffee Roasters are located in Wilmington, Delaware and the business was started earlier in 2015 by Alisa Morkides. Alisa has owned and operated BrewHaHa!, a coffee bar in downtown Wilmington, since 1998 (along with a bunch of other locations in the area), but earlier this year she moved to a new space that is five times larger. This allowed her to expand the cafe, add a juicebar and get the roasting arm of her business up and running. 1

Here’s an awesome video that should get you pumped about Brandywine Coffee Roasters!

Alright, so let’s talk about some coffee, now. The Process Series features two bags of the same coffee that are processed differently so you can see how much process colors the flavor of coffee and how different the coffees can be even though they came from the same trees from the same place! Their current series features a coffee from the Hambela Estate in Ethiopia. Most coffee in Ethiopia comes from tiny farms, gets combined at processing stations and then sorted and sold in larger lots on the Ethiopia Coffee Exchange, so even having a microlot from one place is exceptional in and of itself.

This Process Series features a natural and a washed coffee from the Hambela Estate, located in the Guji area of the Oromia Region. The coffees are grown at 1900-2200masl and are listed as “heirloom” varietals because thousands of varieties of Arabica grow in Ethiopia! You can buy the Process Series for a super-reasonable $20, which includes one 8-oz bag of each coffee or you can buy the natural alone in a 12oz bag for $15.

Brandywine offeres tasting notes of, “Strawberry, rhubarb pie, peach, buttery” for the natural coffee that I tasted. This definitely turned out to be a unique natural. The dry fragrance of the ground coffee was redolent with strawberry and lots of raspberry. Once I brewed the coffee, the aroma turned into strawberry with a floral lime component that was awesome.

I drank this coffee several times as both AeroPress and Gino pourover (1:15 ratio, 4 minutes total brew time) and it was good both ways, but I preferred the pourover for this one. The mouthfeel and body on this coffee was really light for an Ethiopian natural. It was very tea-like and in feel it was much more similar to a washed Ethiopian coffee than a natural.

The aromas carried through into the flavor, with lots of sweet strawberry and a bright lemon-lime acidity. The flavors were somewhat restrained (not dull, by any stretch, just not in-your-face like some naturals can be) and I just kept finding myself thinking how “washed” this natural coffee from Brandywine seemed. The light body and mouthfeel and tea-like character coupled with the structured flavors were unusually refined for a natural coffee.

The finish and aftertaste in this coffee did have a buttery quality to it. It was slightly savory and had a creamy mouthfeel in the aftertaste, so it really did evoke memories of butter.

On the AeroPress I caught some hints of graham cracker crust from time to time, but the overall flavor picture was similar.

This is a really interesting natural coffee. It is light and tea-like in character but has all the flavors I’d expect from an Ethiopian natural. It has a nice balance of acidity and sweetness and it is complex yet very structured whereas naturals can sometimes be a bit muddy. The ferment is nicely controlled so I think this coffee would appeal to people who love naturals, for sure, but also for people who think naturals can be overly sweet and too aggressive or overly fermented.

I really loved this coffee and I am super excited to break into the washed coffee, which I will likely review after the weekend!