Today I’m looking at the first of three coffees from Kansas City’s own Encore Coffee Co. Officially starting for business earlier this year, Encore Coffee Co. is the latest addition to KC’s incredibly diverse specialty coffee roasting scene. Visit these links and let’s check this coffee out!
ENCORE COFFEE CO. ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE ARICHA
I know from speaking with Mike from Encore Coffee Co. that his current aim is at the everyday home coffee drinker. You can currently buy coffee from Encore on Saturday mornings at the Merriam Farmers Market and all of his coffees are also available on the website. I know Mike is looking at the grocery market, too. With this in mind, I expected to see a darker roast on this coffee from Yirgacheffe as the average morning drinker with a Mr. Coffee needs a little help extracting the goodness from their beans in that type of equipment. What I found was a really nice balance and a very pleasant daily drinker!
Aricha is a handful of miles north of Yirgacheffe, the “birthplace” of coffee in Ethiopia. This area is best known for its washed coffees, and this one is no exception. The smallholder farms here grow any of thousands of heirloom varietals native to Ethiopia at an elevation of around 1800-2100masl. Most coffee farmers in Ethiopia have very small operations and so they work collectively in co-ops to pool their coffee at “factories” where the coffee is sorted, processed, and moved to the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange for sale to the rest of the world.
Washed Yirgacheffe’s tend to have a floral, lemony and tea-like flavor profile when they are lightly roasted. So much, so, in fact, that I’ve had some that I would’ve sworn were Earl Grey with a spritz of lemon rather than coffee, if I’d been drinking blindfolded! These are beautiful coffees to drink but they can also seem unsubstantial and downright watery. Roasting washed Ethiopian coffees to a darker level develops more sugars in the coffee and adds lots of body and substance to them while also bringing out more chocolatey tones, but the downside to that is you usually lose the brightness and unique character of the coffee itself, so it may as well be coffee from pretty much anywhere.
Knowing that Mike is roasting for the regular coffee drinker who probably has a Mr. Coffee or some similar device rather than the coffee geek with pourovers and espresso machines and fancy-ass grinders and etc etc etc I figured the roast level would be a little to a lot darker than what I am used to. I would call this one a solid “medium” for as much as that means. There was a developed color to the beans, but they weren’t overly dark, and there was a little oily sheen to be seen but not the pools of oil that occur in a dark roast. The beans ground like a dream in my Hario hand mill, a sure sign of a nice, developed roast.
Using my usual 1:16 ratio (28g coffee to 450g water) in the notNeutral pourover with Kalita 185 filters I was able to brew up some really nice cups of coffee. Mike has done a great job finding a happy balance, for my palate at least, between the classic Yirgacheffe flavor profile and the darker, more chocolatey and caramely, yet less origin-y tones of a darker roast. In my cups I was getting a very soft and not-at-all tart lemon acidity that was probably 1/2 of what I would get from this coffee at a lighter “third wave” roast profile. It lead immediately into a sweet mid-sip that had some apple juice qualities to it and a slightly dry finish with a lingering aftertaste that reminded me of lightly spiced baked goods. I mean, yum, right? Using a little fancy retronasal swishing and swashing of this coffee I pulled out some cherry notes, too, once the coffee had rested to near room temperature.
I really enjoyed this cup. It is not the classic super light, super tea-like Yirgacheffe profile, but it’s VERY far from being a nuked shell of it’s former self, too. This roast level leaves some of that pleasant lemon acidity we expect from washed Yirgs and even a little bit of a floral component while giving more body, mouthfeel and caramelly, appley sweetness to the cup that would work well in an everyday coffee maker that comes on around the country at 6AM!