Well, friends, we’ve come to the end of our samples from Louisville, Kentucky’s excellent Sunergos Coffee! I decided to bookend their amazing Finca Las Flores from last week with the other Ethiopian coffee they sent me, this time a natural with promises of blueberry! Blueberry-laden naturals were one of my gateways into specialty coffee and the last couple years of natural Ethiopian crops have been mostly strawberry and blackberry on the berry spectrum, for me, so I am anxiously awaiting a big blueberry note from this cup. Let’s see how it does!
SUNERGOS COFFEE ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE IDIDO (NATURAL)
This morning’s coffee is from the growers organized around the Idido mill in Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone, which is also home to the town of Yirgacheffe and the birthplace of coffee! Like most Ethiopian coffees, this lot is comprised of heirloom varieties grown by many smallholder farmers who collect their coffee at the same mill for sorting and processing. Growing altitudes in this area of Ethiopia are 1800-2000 meters above sea level and this coffee is naturally processed. This means that the cherries are sorted by hand and then laid out on raised beds to dry slowly. They are turned every 2-3 hours and this drying process results in fermentation within the cherry, imparting fruity flavors, sweetness and body to the seed, or what we call “bean,” inside. Yum!
This example from Sunergos gets a light (city) roast level, meaning the coffee is dropped out of the roaster right after first crack, and they suggest flavors of, “blueberry turnover, red tea, melon, cream.” I used my usual 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino pourover with white Kalita 185 filter. I got some blueberry in the aroma from the cup along with some sweet florals and hints of lime. This coffee has a relatively light body with a creamy, almost milky texture to it. I did get some light hints of blueberry from this cup, but it wasn’t a blueberry bomb like Ethiopian naturals were 3-4 years ago. I got lots of florals coming through in each sip and there was a tea-like finish into a floral, slightly berry aftertaste. This coffee had nice sweetness and was bright, but without an overtly specific acidity profile, to my palate. In other words, this was a nicely balanced cup and it wasn’t muted, but I couldn’t really place a specific profile to the acidity, such as citrus or apple, for example. There was maybe a little lime note in it, but it was not obvious. As the cup cooled I got melon tones that reminded me of a very ripe honeydew. The fruits came with some ferment notes, which I generally like because they add a dimension and complexity to the cup. In this case the ferment was coming through as a little earthy to my palate and I didn’t care for it as much as the more lactic acid/slight pleasant sourness that ferment usually tastes to me. As a pourover, this wasn’t a bad cup, but I think I’m just looking for something in Ethiopian naturals that just isn’t there in the current crops. I’m not sure if that has to do with availability and sourcing, climate and growing, or a combination of both. The only detractor, for me, in this cup is that earthy tone I found, but otherwise this is a distinctly different natural from the fruitier, more berry-forward Ethiopians. I was still really hoping for a blueberry nuke on my palate, but the heavy melon tones and hints of blueberry were delicious and certainly not taken for granted! Once this coffee reaches pretty much room temp, I found the blueberry to be most apparent, just FYI.
The good folks at Sunergos Coffee told me this coffee pulls nicely as espresso, too, so I gave it a try. I didn’t have a ton of time to play around with this coffee, but I ended up pulling some tasty shots with 20g of coffee in the portafilter basket and about 35-37g of espresso in the cup in about 30 seconds (mental count, no timer). Not the most precise, but it worked OK. LOL For equipment I am using: rare Gaggia 2-switch “Old White Coffee” machine with factory orange paint job (possibly one-of-a-kind) from 1988 that I rehabbed recently, Rancilio Rocky grinder, bottomless portafilter with Decent Espresso 20g basket and Decent Espresso 25-pound calibrated tamper (reviews of the Decent Espresso equipment coming in the near future). The Decent Espresso gear produces a ridiculously even extraction.
This approach yielded a very third-wave/West Coast style shot, but it was tasty nonetheless! I was getting a lot of brightness in the form of lime and even some florals. The crema was present but a tad thin compared to a blend, as is usually the case. Some nice berries came through loud and proud, mostly tasting of strawberry, in my opinion. Definitely a bright, modern espresso, so chocolate/caramel espresso fans wouldn’t be into this one. I’ll bet this would go great in a small milky but I don’t have any milk to test that theory out, so someone else will have to do it and report back in!