Huckleberry Roasters (Denver) – YirgZ Review

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IMG_4252I had a run of good luck recently when an order (thanks, roasters.co!) of Gondo from Huckleberry Roasters in Denver, CO went missing. Rather than re-sending old coffee to me, Huckleberry sent it out again right after roasting it, along with a note and a second bag of YirgZ that I hadn’t even ordered! Talk about a great surprise and awesome customer service!  (Edit added 10/25/14 – use code KCCOFFEEGEEK on any order from roasters.co and get 10% off!)

Disclaimer: This coffee was sent to KCcoffeegeek free of charge. This is not a paid review nor did the complimentary sample affect the outcome of this review.

Huckleberry’s YirgZ coffee is a “zero defect” offering from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. I have been drinking and roasting a lot of coffee from this region of Africa and it’s simply amazing how different each coffee can be. You can read Huckleberry’s tasting notes and the full backstory on this coffee here, but in effect the washing station and exporter in Ethiopia worked extra hard to go above and beyond Grade 1 standards (Ethiopia’s highest), taking approximately eight times as long to select, sort and dry the coffee for YirgZ. Incredibly, a 10 ounce bag of YirgZ can be had for only $14, which is a great price!

The tasting notes mention elements of lime, graham crackers, honeydew and cantaloupe. I prepared this coffee as espresso (not as bracing as the Gondo was, but still a little bright for my tastes as a solo-origin espresso. This would be great in a blend, though!), Chemex and AeroPress. Of the three preparation methods I liked the Chemex best.

For preparation methods I used 1:16 coffee to water in the Chemex (30g coffee to 480g water), 17g of coffee to 250g water in the AeroPress and an 18g shot in the espresso machine.

The graham cracker element was pronounced in this coffee. Even the dry, whole beans had them in the aroma, but when grinding it was the aroma of a graham cracker cheesecake crust. It smelled SO good and water hadn’t even hit the grounds yet! While brewing in the Chemex the aroma of the water off the grinds had an intensely citrusy floral component. I want to say like jasmine flowers but I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I don’t know what lime flowers smell like, but imagine a lime citrus element with a heavy floral aroma and that’s what I was getting.

The flavor of lime and graham crackers carried over in the flavor, too. The coffee isn’t as acidic as the Gondo I had, but it has a slightly more astringent, tea-like character than the Gondo did, too. Once in a while the flavors of black tea and a similar mouthfeel would hit me. As the cup cooled to room temperature I found that the citrus element gave way to the graham cracker again, slightly more tea character and a bit of the honeydew flavor mentioned in the tasting notes was picked up in the aftertaste.

For the super-reasonable price and the fact that roasters.co can set you up with an automatic ordering and shipping plan, this coffee would be an easy choice for a daily drinker. It’s complex, but not overly so, enjoyable, does well in a variety of preparation methods and is unique enough to set it apart from other Ethiopian offerings.

I have enough of this coffee to try as a cold brew, so even though our highs are in the 30’s all week, this week, I’m still going to give it a shot! I’ll report back in if there is a big difference in flavors.