Encore Coffee Company has recently started their version of a monthly subscription, called Tour Pass, and this morning I’m having a look at the first Tour Pass coffee (they are on to coffee #2 this month, from Costa Rica), a natural selection from Ethiopia!
Encore Coffee Co. Roaster Profile (the backstory!)
ENCORE COFFEE COMPANY ETHIOPIA NATURAL YIRGACHEFFE KONGA
Make sure you check out the roaster profile link above to learn more about Mike King and Encore Coffee Company. I met Mike last year and he was a staple at the Merriam farmer’s market every Saturday morning. Mike’s goal is to bring quality specialty coffee to the masses, so he roasts a little darker into medium for a lot of his coffees (this profile works better with the typical coffee machine) and his packaging is informative but not full-blown coffee geek! He is looking to convert people away from their Folgers and Eight O’Clock without the intimidation some people may get from the specialty coffee scene. It’s a good strategy and it seems to be working for Encore Coffee Company!
In March 2017, Mike started his Tour Pass subscription. This is a monthly delivery of the coffee-of-the-month, essentially. It looks like the Tour Pass coffee will always be an exclusive coffee for subscribers, something that can’t be purchased otherwise. Tour Pass pricing is $18/month on a month-to-month basis, $50 for a 3-month pass and $100 for a 6-month around-the-world tour! April’s coffee is a Costa Rican honey so if you’re thinking about jumping on tour, now is the time to do so!
March’s inaugural Tour Pass selection was a natural from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, quite literally the birthplace of coffee. Like most Ethiopian coffees, it contains many heirloom varietals grown by smallholder farmers who pool their coffee together for sale on the exchange. Growing altitude is around 1600-1750masl and this is a natural coffee, meaning it is picked, sorted and then dried on raised beds like raisins. This natural process doesn’t use much water and it also imparts body and fruitiness to the coffee.
I used my standard 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set on 3.5 and I used Third Wave Water to brew my samples. Mike roasts most of his coffees pretty squarely in the “medium” range, which doesn’t mean much, I understand. This slightly darker roast profile allows more sugar development and breaks the coffee bean walls down further, making it easier to extract in sub-optimal conditions like that of most standard kitchen coffee machines, like Mr. Coffee. This is necessary because otherwise lighter roasts can taste sour and underextracted in those machines and no one wants that! Plus, like it or not, the average American coffee drinker likes darker roasts and the flavors that come with them, so if you’re trying to convert people, you have to meet them close to where they are. All that being said, this coffee is far from being a “dark” roast by any definition of the term.
In my cups I was pulling out some sweet lemon candy acidity (definitely an accent rather than a main player) as well as some raspberry and blackberry notes. This one leaned more toward raspberry notes for me, and I really liked the soft lemony acidity with the berry notes I was getting. I got virtually no ferment from this cup or roasty notes, really, but there was a cocoa/dark chocolate finish and aftertaste on this coffee, too. At cooler temperatures I was able to pick up some slight florals, too.
This is a nice coffee. It has some complexity without being challenging and it’s very drinkable, pleasant and inviting. This is exactly what a coffee from a roaster like Encore should be, especially when it’s part of a subscription. Sure, there is a place for super-adventurous, experimental coffees in subscriptions, too, but if that’s how it’s going to be, people need to know that up front. This is a super-appealing coffee and was a great choice with a great roast for Tour Pass #1!