I really found a lot of flavors to like in a unique cup from OQ Coffee’s Malala lot from Yemen. Today’s review is another one of OQ Coffee’s Yemeni offerings sourced by Rayyan Mill in Yemen for the highest quality and traceability available in that country. Lots of links to see below, then check out the review!
OQ COFFEE AL GHAYOUL
OQ Coffee in New Jersey has been blowing me away with coffee after coffee! This is one of the four Yemeni coffees they sent me to try and on the advice of their roaster, Catie, I’ve been trying this coffee at intervals a month past roast date, which she said was the sweet spot for a lot of these unusual coffees. I am revisiting this coffee as I write this article and it is a full two months off roast and it’s still tasting really good. Did I say these are unusual coffees?! This coffee was sourced by Rayyan Mill from a small tribal community living near Hajaa, Yemen. Hajaa is one of those otherwordly looking Yemeni cities built right onto the top of a mountain and the city itself sits at 1800masl.
Like all coffees from Yemen, this is a natural process coffee and the growing altitude is 1500-2000masl. With lots of work to build their trust, Rayyan Mill has convinced the tribe to start pruning their coffee plants as well as use raised beds for drying their coffee, both innovative methods for this part of Yemen. This year, Rayyan Mill identified several farmers who were going above and beyond with their coffee and they separated their production as microlots. Presumably, this Al Ghayoul lot is named for the man who grew and processed the lot, but that’s just a guess on my part.
OQ Coffee give us tasting notes of, “Marshmallow, thin, lime acidity, dry” for this coffee. How often do you see “thin” and “dry” as descriptors on coffee bags? Never, yet they work with these strangely delicious Yemeni coffees, somehow! The grounds of this coffee smell a little more like a familiar strawberry-forward Ethiopian natural than the Malala lot did. I used my usual 1:16 ratio (28g of coffee, 450g water) in the notNeutral Gino pourover using Kalita 185 filters. This yielded a cup with a little more body, yet still overall light, than the Malala lot. The aroma on the cup is sweet and reminiscent of caramelized sugar. Despite having a somewhat thin body (I would actually place this one on the low side of medium body), the flavors come through nicely and end in a pleasant, although somewhat short-lived, aftertaste.
I get some berry flavors, reminding me mostly of strawberry but not quite like the, “Oh, yeah, that’s strawberry for sure” type of note from some natural Ethiopian coffees. There is a dry sensation on my palate drinking this coffee and it finishes dry, too, giving a similar mouthfeel as eating a not-quite-ripe strawberry, so some of the similarity is there, too. It’s hard to describe, but there is definitely some strawberry in there, almost like the strawberry milk flavor you get after eating a bowl of cereal with berries in it. That’s definitely the vibe I get from the aftertaste, not unlike the flavor of strawberry Nesquik in milk! There is a little lime acidity and bitterness in the cup that adds some complexity and offsets the overall sweetness of the cup to give balance.
I found this coffee to be a bit less complex than the Malala lot, but at the same time more familiar and approachable. I liked them both equally for different reasons. I’d choose the Malala if I wanted something truly different and the Al Ghayoul if I was looking to dip my toe in Yemeni coffee for the first time and didn’t want something too “out there.” Drinking this coffee again this morning, which was roasted on July 5 (today is Sept 7), I can say it has lost nothing from that long rest period, which blows my mind. Another winner from OQ Coffee! Woot!