As we roll into the 4th of July (Independence Day) extended weekend here in the USA I’m happy to bring you a fresh, delicious Ethiopian coffee from Hygge Coffee Co. in Missoula, Montana!
Check out Hygge Coffee Co.’s profile story here and find out what Hygge means!
You can buy this coffee directly from Hygge Coffee Co. for $15/12oz bag, and they always ship free in the USA.
Visit Hyggee Coffee Co.’s website here.
HYGGE COFFEE CO. ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE KOCHERE GRADE 1 NATURAL BANKO GUTITI:
This is the first coffee I’m trying out from new-to-me roaster, Hygge Coffee Co. (pronounced “hyoo-guh”), out of Missoula, Montana. This coffee is from the Banko Gutiti area in the Yirgacheffe region, coffee’s birthplace. The farmers in Ethiopia are mostly smallholders and so they join co-ops who own their own washing stations to collect, sort and process coffees into larger lots. Most Ethiopian farmers wouldn’t be able to produce enough coffee in a year to make a go of things, so the co-op “societies” and their washing stations are a vital part of the chain of Ethiopian coffee! This co-op uses the Alemu washing station. What can confuse things for drinkers like us is that this coffee could be called Yirgacheffe, Kochere, Banko Gutiti, Alemu or Gedeo and they’d all be correct! Really figuring out where your coffee is from can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to Ethiopia!
Nonetheless, this coffee grows in the 1900-2100masl range and consists of many heirloom varieties. There are thousands of varieties that grow in Ethiopia, so you can’t name them all! This is a natural/dry process coffee, which means the cherries are picked from the trees and dried intact, like raisins, on raised beds. The coffee seeds (what we call beans), take on more body, fruity flavors and sometimes ferment, too. Hygge Coffee Co. offer us a flavor profile for this coffee including, “raspberry, chocolate, mandarin orange.” I used my usual pourover method utilizing a notNeutral Gino dripper and while Kalita 185 filters. I use a 1:16 ratio, so 28g of coffee to 450g of water poured onto the coffee bed. My total time tends to land around the 3:30-3:45 mark. I wasn’t timing my cups of this coffee, but they seemed to land in the ballpark.
This selection from Hygge Coffee Co. seems pretty lightly roasted to me (oh, and they do have real bags, this was the only hand-written one they included… no complaints from me!). The beans didn’t feel quite like rocks in my Hario hand grinder, but close! The dry grounds have a wonderfully sweet strawberry cereal (think Frankenberry!) fragrance and the aroma in the cup has a lot of the same. This is an interesting cup in terms of flavor. I don’t know in a blind tasting if I’d be able to say it’s a natural. Based solely on aroma and fragrance I might, but the body is pretty light on this coffee and the berry notes don’t dominate as they often do, so it’d be a tough call. It also doesn’t taste like a classic washed Yirgacheffe, so I think this one would stump me on a cupping table.
In any case, I get some red berry (little bit of strawberry, little bit of raspberry) notes in this cup for sure. The acidity is a little subtle in the cup for me. If I use a good amount of “retronasal” tasting technique (take a sip, swallow some, and while you’re doing so and holding coffee in your mouth still make short exhalations… much of our human tasting ability comes from retronasal tasting, which happens when you exhale) I get some orange and lime notes in the acidity and the brightness of the cup is mostly noticeable as I swallow and just after, in which case the acidity is quite pronounced for a short time. There is a healthy amount of bitterness in this cup and it lingers on the palate in the aftertaste for quite some time for me. I’m always a little concerned about grassiness in very light roasts and I’m not sure I’m picking up what I would call grassiness, but there is a bit more bitterness and a slight astringency than I would like to taste in my coffee. On the plus side that does add a lot of complexity to the cup and also balances the sweetness, but on the minus it does take away from the drinkability of this coffee some. As the cup cools closer to room temperature I was getting more of an orange tone to the acidity, but less orange juice and more orange oil from the peel with a little bitterness from the pith of the peel, too.
Overall I like this coffee. The bitterness is a little off-putting but it has a unique flavor profile that has elements of a natural Yirgacheffe, but some really unusual attributes that aren’t common, too. That makes for an interesting cup, for sure, but not necessarily a super-inviting and easy to drink coffee, either. I enjoyed drinking this coffee because it is quite different and I do actually like bitter flavors a lot. I would rate this coffee as pretty high in complexity and, to me, more complex coffees are always a little more challenging to drink than something super basic and simple because there is so much going on in the cup. I know this probably isn’t coming off like a glowing review, so let me explain a little further… I didn’t get any “off” flavors or anything that tasted like a defect to me. I happily drank my cups and enjoyed them, too, and I will gladly share this selection from Hygge Coffee Co. with my coffee geek friends. My hesitancy with this coffee is only that it isn’t the most accessible cup for this region, so someone who is looking for a sugary fruit bomb from Ethiopia would be surprised by this coffee, I think. If you’re looking for an unusual and unique example of a natural Ethiopian that has lots of complexity and less overt fruit and sweetness, though this is the one to pick up!