I took a look at Cimarron Coffee Roasters’ Asasa washed process last week, so you should check out that review, too. Better yet, buy both coffees from Eric and do a comparison and see if you agree with me! Today, we’ll check out the dry process/natural version of this Ethiopian coffee and see the similarities and differences. I also reviewed another roaster’s version of a dry process Asasa, this one from Volcanista, recently, so we have a lot of comparing and contrasting to do! Let’s get to it!
Cimarron Coffee Roasters are located in Colorado. The roastery is in Montrose (not open to the public yet) while Cimarron Books & Coffeehouse can be found in the small town of Ridgway, overlooking the Cimarron Range of the San Juan Mountains. Cimarron Books & Coffeehouse has been operating in Ridgway since 1991, but Eric took the business over in 2013 and added the roasting operation soon afterward.
Today’s coffee comes from the Asasa washing station located in Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe zone. Like all Ethiopian coffee, it is comprised of mixed heirloom varietals from smallholder farms of the co-op’s members. This is a dry process or “natural” coffee, meaning the coffee cherries are picked and sorted by hand, then laid out intact on raised drying beds and rotated for even drying. Over time the cherries look almost like raisins, and once they are dry enough they are further processed to remove the skins and sticky mucilage surrounding the pit/seed, what we call a coffee bean. Coffees that are processed this way tend to have more body, more fruit flavors and generally are less “clean” in flavor than their wet processed brothers and sisters. Most naturals take on some level of ferment flavors, too. You can buy this coffee directly from Cimarron Coffee Roasters for $14/10oz bag and this is a good opportunity to pick up a bag of the washed, too, so you can see how processing affects flavors in your cup!
Eric gives us tasting notes of, “tropical fruit cocktail, sweet citrus, creamy” for this coffee. I used my Gino pourover method as well as Brian Beyke’s “Stubby” Aeropress method for this coffee. I liked the dynamics better with the Aeropress, so I’ll focus my review on the Aeropress extraction. The beans themselves in the bag didn’t have an overwhelmingly “natural” fragrance. There were some fruity and strawberry notes in the bag, but it wasn’t in-your-face like a lot of naturals. I figured I was in for a more subtle natural process coffee and I was right. In the cup, the Aeropress gave the coffee some sweet, almost milky aromas. The coffee had a medium body and a somewhat creamy, dairy-like texture to it. Rather than the berry-forward flavors I usually get from Ethiopian naturals, in this one I was getting pineapple, orange and some sweet lemon acidity that the Aeropress enhanced quite nicely over the Gino pourovers I made. This coffee was a little dull using my usual pourover recipe, but the Aeropress brightened it up nicely and gave it really nice flavors. The finish was just a touch on the dry side on this coffee and I got a bit of strawberry and ferment in the aftertaste.
Cimarron’s description of this coffee says, “the most balanced dry processed Ethiopia we’ve ever experienced.” I can’t comment on “ever” for myself, but it is a very balanced coffee and has a lot of similarities with washed Ethiopian coffees, too. It’s pretty clean for a natural and if you don’t like the ferment naturals take on, in my opinion this one is pretty minimal in that regard. Reading back over my review of Cimarron’s washed version of this coffee, I got pineapple, lemon and a roasted peach note from that coffee. So, a lot of similarities from these two differently processed Asasa’s. That is somewhat unusual. I wish I had the time and coffee left to make them both side by side and try them that way, but whereas most process case studies are more about differences, these two coffees are more about similarities and nuances, which is really cool! Volcanista’s version of this coffee also had lots of pineapple, more florals and cola. Looking at that review, I also noted a milky/dairy mouthfeel, too. It’s not too often that I get several versions of the same coffee in at the same time, so I really dug being able to compare them all in such a short period of time. I guess we know what to expect from this year’s Asasa crop, huh?
This is a nice coffee, subtle for a natural, and I would really encourage you to buy both the washed and natural versions from Cimarron so you can compare the two. I enjoyed both cups and the similarities despite the processing is really interesting and should not be missed!