I had a wonderful opportunity while recently in Portland to make a quick visit to Case Study Coffee Roaster’s Sandy Blvd location and meet their Operations Manager, Emily McIntyre, who until relatively recently was a Kansas Citian herself. We KC’ers have to stick together and she was a great host and instrumental in helping me figure out a way to cram as many cafés into as short of a time as possible. I’ll write more about my café experience in Portland in another story, so for now I want to focus on the coffee I brought home with me, Case Study’s Gelana Abaya.
Disclaimer: Case Study gifted this coffee to KCcoffeegeek with no expectation for a review. This is not a paid feature (nor are any others on this site) nor did the complimentary-ness of this coffee affect the outcome of this review.
If you’re like Sweet Brown and you ain’t got no time for this: Case Study’s Gelana Abaya is awesome, great, wonderful coffee, especially in milk-based espresso drinks but equally phenomenal as a pourover or AeroPress or standalone shot. Get it if you can.
The only sad part about this story is that my bag of coffee is getting disturbingly light and I know the end is nigh. Also, Case Study doesn’t ship their coffee yet, but some Twitter and Instagram convos made it clear that they are working hard on rectifying this. For now, you need to find a Portland friend to hook you up or be local. Ack!
Case Study’s Gelana Abaya comes from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia and is a natural process coffee. Read up on natural processing here and how it’s different from washed coffees. As a rule of thumb, natural coffees, which are dried with the coffee cherry intact (it gets removed in a later step) tend to accumulate body, sweetness and some pretty wild fruit flavors that will make it into your cup. I recently had a local natural Ethiopia roasted here in Kansas City and it was about as close to drinking blueberry juice as you can come without actually drinking blueberry juice! This coffee was the strawberry version of that!
I got quite similar cups in both Chemex and AeroPress, so I’ll review them together. In the Chemex I use 30g of coffee to 480g of water and in the AeroPress I used the inverted method with 17g of coffee to 240g of water, immerse for two minutes and then press, usually ending up with around a 2:40-ish brew time altogether.
This Gelana Abaya is a sugar bomb. I have a big sweet tooth, so this is right up my alley. Even the dry, whole beans smell super sweet and there is a ton of strawberry in the bag when it’s opened. The strawberry is even more prominent on the aroma from the ground beans. In the cup, the aroma is a little more earthy and maybe even tea-like when it’s hot, but as it cools down that sweetness comes through more prominently. It’s almost syrupy.
The mouthfeel is dense and substantial, although both brewing methods produced a pretty clean-tasting cup. The flavor is all sweetness and fruit, especially strawberry. Although the Gelana Abaya is very strawberry forward, there is a little blueberry and maybe raspberry tucked in there, too.
This coffee is sweet enough that it would work for dessert by itself. As the cup cools the strawberry just gets more and more pronounced in both aroma and flavor, and if you take a big sip the second half of the flavors that hit the tongue and last in the long finish are just pure strawberry juice.
Have I made it clear that Case Study’s Gelana Abaya has a lot of strawberry character to it? Ha!
As espresso, this coffee is a lot more tart, still has crazy mouthfeel and still had a lot of that strawberry flavor. The espresso machine just intensifies everything and makes it amplified, to me, to 11. Even through the overall profile picked up some tartness and was a little “hot” compared to the sugary sweetness in the Chemex and AeroPress it immediately struck me as something that would work well with milk. [Edit: As I continued to drink this as espresso and with milk over the days I worked on this review, the “heat” and tartness of the shot really mellowed and the sweetness pulled forward more. I’d say giving this coffee over a week to rest would make it ideal for espresso and milk drinks!]
I’m not an ace home barista and I only steam milk about three times per year, so there’s no latte art coming out of my hands! I picked up some whole milk at the store. My first attempt I didn’t get enough air into the milk and then I also failed to het it up enough, so it was like lukewarm milk poured into coffee. That being said, it was like lukewarm STRAWBERRY QUICK milk! Holy smokes, even with flubbed milk it was awesome.
I tried again the next day and made really good microfoamed milk. I poured a cortado in my little 4oz Gibraltar glass liberated from a bar after a shot many, many moons ago and even the volume of milk I’d prepared was right. The milk was great consistency and had a ton of sweetness to it, so I’d lucked into a good steaming session.
That cortado was heavenly. The inherent sweetness and strawberry flavors coupled with the sweet, warm milk was just awesome. Emily did say the Gelana Abaya was popular as both Fetco (drip) and espresso (presumably milk-based drinks as I don’t see too many people other than myself drinking espresso the way God intended it). That would make sense because IT. WAS. AWESOME.
In summary, I really love this coffee. It works great prepared a variety of ways and it was a joy to drink. It is sweet, but not cloying, and it was just a very impressive way to be introduced to a coffee roaster. I can’t wait until Case Study starts selling online (and in the meantime I’ll need a PDX supplier to keep me fixed…)