Metric Coffee Co. out of Chicago, IL is a relative newcomer to the specialty coffee roasting scene. Metric was formed in 2013 by Xavier Alexander and Darko Arandjelovic. Darko is owner of Caffe Streets (this place looks AWESOME) in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood and Xavier worked as a roaster for Intelligenstia. In other words, these bros know coffee. My pals at roasters.co sent me a couple of their coffees to try, and the first one I broke open was the Konga, a single origin offering from Yirgacheffe in Ethiopia. Retail price is $17 for a 12-ounce bag.
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If you’re looking for the quick and dirty review, here you go: this is a refined and delicate coffee for gentlemen and women of distinguished tastes. It has a tea-like mouthfeel with lemon-y high notes and undertones of peaches. Boom!
I’ve really been enjoying this coffee but it took me off-guard at first. I came to Metric’s Single Origin Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Grade 1 Konga (we’ll just call it Konga from here on out, mm’kay?) after drinking a lot of natural Yirgacheffes like Benetti’s Adado and Case Study’s Gelana Abaya (which is easily my favorite coffee of the year. If it was allowed I’d put a ring on Gelana’s finger!). Both of those naturals have huge strawberry flavors and lots of sugary sweetness, so my brain was thinking “Yirgacheffe, huh? Get ready for some big flavors, sonny boy” and I was taken aback when I didn’t find them at first.
If you’re a beer drinker, it’d be like tasting a flight of West Coast American IPA’s with a traditional English IPA tossed into the mix. To appreciate the UK IPA you need to recalibrate and adjust. Coffee works the same way.
I can’t find much info about this coffee right now, but I’m sure this is a washed rather than natural coffee (click the “categories” menu to your right on the screen and choose “education” to see some posts on the differences), so even though it’s from the same region as the other coffees I mentioned, it’s a completely different animal. (Update 1-20-2015: this is not a washed coffee, but in fact, a natural. I reviewed the same coffee, roasted by PT’s, in January, so check that out, but it is a natural, albeit a more subtle one than some of the other in-your-face coffees from tis region)
This coffee arrived to me 5 days after roasting and I tried it a bunch of different ways: Chemex, AeroPress with paper filter and with Able DISK and Gino (basically a Kalita drip). If you want the details for how I brew, then click here. I settled on Gino/Kalita and AeroPress with the DISK as my favorite methods for this coffee, although they were all good. The DISK gave the AeroPress a little more body because it lets lipids and some fines through while the standard paper doesn’t. Likewise the flavors of the Chemex and Gino were similar, but I found the Gino to have better body while the Chemex was more tea-like in mouthfeel.
Metric’s tasting notes for this coffee read, “Jasmine tea, white peach, lemon.” When I slurped with my cupping spoon I definitely got the lemon hits. But overall I was challenged by this coffee at first because I was so used to the massive and obvious flavors in the Ethiopia naturals I’d been drinking. Chemex was my first brewing method and this was just incredibly light with almost no aftertaste, so I had to dig a little deeper, at first, to find what I was tasting.
I think age helped this coffee out, too. Once it was past a week from its roasting date it seemed to develop and open up some. I don’t know if it makes sense, but it seemed to get some “depth” after that point and the coffee lingered more and had more substance on the palate. The body improved the lemon acidity was there, but the finish lasted longer and I started picking up hints of the peach they mentioned on the label. There was also a bit of astringency (a sense of tightening in the tastebuds on my tongue) that came with this, but it all worked really well together.
Overall this is a bright coffee with lots of high tones. The roast is pretty light and there is minimal contribution from the roastier side of things (no chocolates, caramels, etc). Once I wrapped my head around this coffee (it took all of three cups, LOL) I was really digging it and I liked how it continued to develop and change as I made my way through the bag. I’m excited to try more of Metric’s Coffee and I’ve been in touch with Xavier and will probably have more reviews for you in the not-too-distant future from this roastery!