Who would ever think world class coffees can come from towns of around 500 people in the middle of the heartland? That’s exactly what we have this morning, with S&W Craft Roasting’s natural Ethiopian, Banko Fuafuate. Let’s drink!
S&W CRAFT ROASTING NATURAL BANKO FUAFUATE
One of American specialty coffee’s greatest kept secrets (and, please, stop keeping this a secret!) is S&W Craft Roasting, located in the town of Coatesville, Indiana, population 523. Coatesville lies about 45 minutes west/southwest of Indianapolis and it’s proof that you don’t need to live in the hippest urban areas of the biggest cities to be able to offer up world-class coffee! I’ve been enjoying coffe from these gentlemen for a couple years now and everyone I’ve turned on to S&W loves them. With most coffees coming in around $13-$15/16oz (yes, a full pound, not 12 oz or 8 oz) people wonder how they do it, and one of their secrets is they aren’t spending a big advertising/marketing/design budget. Their website and packaging are as simple as they get and those things translate to nice coffees at a crazy price and we should all be taking advantage of this while it lasts!
This morning I’m checking out S&W’s newest Ethiopian selection. This Banko Fuafuate is a Grade 1 natural coffee from Yirgacheffe. As is almost the case, this is a mix of heirloom varities from a bunch of smallholder farmers who collect their coffee, pool it together, sort it and process it into lots at a cooperative “coffee factory” in the area. Coffees here grow around 1950-2250masl. Natural coffees are picked and sorted by hand and then laid out with the coffee cherry still intact on raised mesh beds to slowly dry, like big raisins. As the fruit breaks down, fruity, sweet flavors are passed onto the seeds inside the fruits and these seeds are what we call coffee beans. S&W tell us this is a “light city” roast and to expect, “floral aromas, flavors of dark berries, and a lively lemon acidity (think hot blueberry lemonade).”
I am using my standard pourover setup of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of Third Wave Water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filter. If you’ve been following along you know I’ve switched grinders to a Knock Aergrind recently. Anticipating a slower extraction because Ethiopian coffees tend to be so dense, I opened up the burrs two steps on the grinder and my extraction came in at 3:05, not including a long 45-50 second bloom, exactly what I was shooting for.
In the bag, there is a lot of blueberry fragrance on these beans. My palate shifted (or coffee flavors shifted… or both) a couple years ago and I rarely taste blueberry in coffee anymore, although I’m great at pulling out strawberry, raspberry, blackberry… everything except blueberry… so I am really curious to find out if I taste what I can smell in the bag. And the answer is yet, this coffee has a lot of blueberry for me! Eureka! The first time in a couple years where something is super blueberry-y (LOL) to my palate! Right after the initial hit of blueberry, I get a pretty substantial hit of lemon acidity that is surprisingly bright, but works really well with the inherent sweetness of this coffee. S&W absolutely nailed it by comparing this coffee to blueberry lemonade. It’s so good! There is a fair amount of ferment in with all these nice flavor notes. I personally like ferment in natural coffees and it’s never a turn-off for me, even in the notoriously “funky natural” coffees that come out of Central America from time to time. This is far from a coffee, but there is a light ferment note that, for me, adds interest and complexity to the cup and I welcome it.
Overall, even with that shot of bright lemon, this is a sweet coffee, as Ethiopian naturals tend to be. As the cup cools I’m picking up more blackberry notes in the berry profile and maybe even some black raspberry, too. Blueberries, blackberries, a spritz of lemon, nice balance and overall a lot of sweetness in the cup and that sums this Banko Fuafuate up in a nutshell! It’s coffees like this that turn first-time customers into rabid fans for S&W Craft Roasting!