April’s Barista Coffee Box contained four sample coffees from a roaster I’ve never heard of, Hajo Roasts, based in California’s Silicon Valley. With some different and cool label art a random grab into this month’s box had me trying out Hajo’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido Gersi, which also won a 2016 Silver Medal Golden Bean award from Compak for the Single Origin Category so let’s see how it tastes!
BARISTA COFFEE BOX 4/2017: HAJO ROASTS ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE IDIDO GERSI
This month’s Barista Coffee Box features Hajo Roasts. BCB is cool because you get four small packets of coffee to try from the roaster that month, giving subscribers an overall feel for the roaster that a single selection is difficult to achieve. I’d never heard of Hajo Roasts before. Hajo is Hans-Jörg Knoll (Hajo for short!), a relative newcomer who came into the world of specialty coffee from the automotive engineering and manufacturing business of all places! Hajo’s grandfather was Mercedes’ first race car driver. As an automotive engineer, Hajo frequently found himself traveling to Portland, OR, where he discovered the USA’s version of coffee culture. LIke many roasters, roasting coffee started as a garage hobby, but Hajo took a break from cars and trucks last year to pursue roasting on a larger scale. 1
This selection comes from the Idido Valley near Yirgacheffe, the birthplace of coffee in Ethiopia. It’s a fully washed coffee grown in the 2050-2200 meters above sea level range and like most Ethiopian coffees it contains a mix of many heirloom varietals (there are thousands growing in Ethiopia!) grown by smallholders and sold as lots on the Ethiopia Coffee Exchange. Hajo won a silver medal in 2016’s Compak Golden Bean competition for this coffee as a single origin espresso. That’s the only downside to Barista Coffee Box’s small sample packets… there’s no way I could possibly dial in this coffee for espresso with this amount! Of course, the point of Barista’s box’s is that now I know about this coffee and I can buy a full bag direct from Hajo to play with in the Gaggia!
Hajo gives us flavor notes of, “sweet floral, jasmine, juicy lemon, strawberry” for this coffee. I used my trusty 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water (Third Wave Water, which I am obsessed with now) in a notNeutral Gino dripper with a Handground grinder set to 3.5. I was greeted with a pleasant floral aroma from the cup. The body is light and leaves a tea-like dryness behind on my palate as it shifts into the aftertaste. I get a lot of floral notes with each sip, too, and there is a definite peach note right up front as well as in the aftertaste of this coffee. Maybe some strawberry in the aftertaste, too. There are hints of fresh strawberries mid-sih, with a sweet lemon acidity that adds complexity and high notes to the flavor without being aggressive. As the coffee cools the strawberry and peach notes morph into sort of a dried apricot note for me. The overall flavor profile of this coffee, to me, is light and subtle, but sweet, very clean and deliciously pleasant at the same time.
This is really good! No wonder it won a silver medal! If I didn’t have a counter full of other coffees to review (the ONLY downside to what I do), I would love to get a bag of this to run as espresso, but alas! This is a perfect example of the beauty and refinement that washed Yirgs can have. Light, sweet, clean… a real stunner!