Guide Coffee, owned and operated by Ben Young, is located in Little Rock, Arkansas and were gracious enough to recently send samples of their two current offerings. I don’t have any back story to share with you for this review, but I hope to rectify that for Guide’s next review! So we’ll focus on the coffee today, and Ben’s story next time! I can say I was excited to try another Arkansas-based roaster out, having had such great coffee from other roasters to my south like Onyx Coffee Lab and Mama Carmen’s.
Today, we’re looking at Guide Coffee’s Yirgacheffe Adado Sulula, which you can buy directly from them online for $12/8oz bag. Guide sources this coffee from our friends at Coffee Shrub/Sweet Marias and I believe this is the same coffee I reviewed not too long ago from Ross Street Roasting Co. Ross Street was roasting theirs a little darker than medium for their clientele who are mostly using standard Mr. Coffee-type machines, and I was curious to see how this would be with a lighter roast. Ask and ye shall receive because, at least upon visual inspection, Guide’s looked to be just that!
This is a coffee from the Adado Sulula processing station in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. It’s naturally processed, meaning the seeds (coffee “beans”) are dried with the skins and fruit of the coffee cherry intact, giving them fruity flavors, lots of sweetness and some extra body. This is a Grade 1 selection, meaning a LOT of hands sort this coffee at multiple times from picking to hulling when the skins are finally removed. It’s a labor-intensive process and Ethiopian sorters are amazing at their ability to do this effectively and efficiently. Ben gives us tasting suggestions of, “Blueberry, apricot, chocolate” for this selection.
A quick word about the branding and packaging… I’m a fan of all the handwritten elements and I am jealous because my writing is so bad! Even the logo is printed on the bag with a bit of “feathering” (where the ink soaks into the fibers of the paper and it softens and feathers the edge instead of leaving a crisp line) and it gives the whole bag a handmade look. The colored strip of tape up top with the coffee origin and tasting notes on back is cool, too. I’d like to think this is something that can be done at the printer’s but I’m positive Ben is applying these strips himself, which is a labor of love. The strips on my bag were perfectly applied, as were the handwritten elements, and if someone is going to spend that much effort getting those things right, it bodes well for what’s in the bag, too.
My schozz is unfortunately completely worthless because of allergy season arriving early in Kansas City. I did get some nice berry fragrance off the dry grounds and there was an interesting “warm spices” note in the aroma from the cup, but overall I wasn’t getting much and that was because I’m all stuffed up.
This is a relatively light roast to highlight some of the fruit in the cup. This coffee has nice body and a silky, almost slippery texture that reminded me of that “slick” mouthfeel you get with oatmeal beers. The overall vibe is sweet, but this isn’t an aggressively in-your-face natural. The aftertaste is mild and there’s a sweet, but not cloying finish.
There is a bit of blueberry in the flavors and I was caught hints of raspberry, too, which is always nice. There is a bit of dryness in the actual sip that lends itself to that same feeling I’ll get from eating raspberries, too, which probably contributes to the connection. In some sips I caught that same gentle note of warm baking spices I got in the aroma, too. As the cup cooled it opened up the apricot flavor more and it was delicious. Sweet, but a little tart at the same time. There’s a bit of lemon-lime acidity in this cup to elevate the flavors and brighten the whole effect and the fruit sweetness with the soft, yet prevalent, acidity really comes off quite strongly as apricot flavor.
This is a nice coffee, in general. Ross Street’s version was a little more berry-forward and the darker roast brought out some cocoa notes. The lighter roast from Guide is fruity, yet pretty clean, with no overt ferment tones and a nice complexity and structure. It’s a great example of a natural but it’s not overwhelming or too aggressive and I think people who tend to avoid naturals for that reason would find a lot to like in this Adado Sulula from Guide!