It’s the end of the week as well as the end of the coffees I received from the very gracious folks at OQ Coffee in New Jersey. I didn’t have a bad thing to say about any of these coffees, so they definitely made it onto my “buy with confidence” list! Fantastic sourcing and roasting is reflected in every cup! Today we’ll take a look at the last of the four Yemeni coffees OQ sent, this one from the insane terrain of the Haraz mountains!
OQ COFFEE CO. ASRAR HARAZ
You owe it to yourself to stop reading right now, jump over to Google, and search “Haraz, Yemen” in the image search. The Haraz mountains are the quintessential landscape for what I think of when I think of Yemen… tall villages built right into the top of mountains towering high above everything else around them, rocky landscape, lunar desertion yet life thrives… and, somehow, coffee grows here, too! Today’s coffee, sourced again by Rayyan Mill, is a microlot coming from the Haraz region. It’s a mix of heirloom varietals grown in the 1500-2000masl range and Rayyan hopes an ongoing relationship with this community of farmers will yield even more high quality microlots next year. As with all of these Yemeni coffees, this one is a natural processed coffee, too.
OQ Coffee give us tasting notes of, “cherry jam, raw cacao, milky, papaya acidity, balanced” for this one. Of the four coffees from Yemen, this one smelled the best in the bag. It was a little cereal/grainy with lots of sweet berry notes, so it gave me that Frankenberry or Booberry cereal vibe that so many naturals from Ethiopia do, too. I used my usual routine in the notNeutral pourover, running a 1:16 ratio (28g coffee, 450g water) and hitting around the 3:00 total brew time including a 30 second bloom.
Aroma on this one is a little cereal sweetness, again, along with some sweet berry notes. I would call the body on this coffee on the heavy side of light, but not-quite-medium. OQ’s La’aali peaberry lot definitely had the most body out of these four coffees. In the sip I get some tropical fruit acidity… think that sort of sweet-tart combo you get from pineapple or other tropical fruits… as well as cherry (not quite tart cherry, but not a full on super-sweet cherry note, either). The cherry notes became more apparent as the cup cooled off quite a bit, and was just delicious and a perfect complement to the other flavors in this coffee. There is a little chocolate in the finish along with a hint of cereal and I was even getting some of the winey notes that OQ’s Malala lot offered. As always, I revisited this cup as I typed my review. This one was roasted July 28 and even 5-6 weeks later it’s doing nicely.
I’ve gotten a few comments on my Instagram posts regarding the age of these Yemeni coffees, but they are what they are! They’re rulebreakers for sure! Catie, OQ’s roaster, told me that these coffees start to get interesting 4 weeks out from roast, and she was right. These unusual coffees hold up really well. I think a lot of specialty coffee drinkers who are used to super-bright (I’d even call it forced acidity from super-light roasting) coffees will definitely notice flavors falling off a couple weeks after roasting, but these Yemeni coffees are more about the complexity and subtle notes and, in my opinion, they are still awesome 6-8 weeks off roast, somehow! Of course, when you buy an 8oz bag from OQ yourself, trust me, you won’t hold onto that long because they’re delicious, but I would encourage you to give them more rest time than you would normal coffees.
In any case, I couldn’t be happier with both my first OQ Coffee Co. experience as well as my first Yemeni coffee experience! I was a Yemeni neophyte going into these coffees and now I’m a true believer. I can’t wait to see what OQ’s lots from Rayyan taste like next year! 🙂