Despite Colorado being my next door neighbor state, I don’t get as much coffee from there as you’d think. This morning I’m taking my first look at Switchback Coffee Roasters from Colorado Springs and I’m excited to try their Ethipia Guji Konjo. I’ve been getting lots and lots of delicious Central American coffees in lately, so something from Africa is going to be a nice change of pace!
SWITCHBACK COFFEE ROASTERS ETHIOPIA GUJI KONJO
It has been said that without garages, computers wouldn’t exist, and this may be overstating things a little, but certainly without the humble carport half the roasters in the coffee industry never would’ve gotten their start! Like so many operations, Switchback Coffee Roasters started with Brandon Delgrosso roasting small batches of coffee in his garage around 2010. Things expanded to a small storefront location in late 2013 or so and, since then, Switchback has been blowing up in the Colorado Springs coffee scene. In early 2015, Switchback acquired Fifty Fifty, a coffee ship that was located directly next door from the roastery and original storefront. Fifty Fifty was already a Switchback account and this was a good move for the company both because of the geography involved as well as expanding the service part of the business, which I personally think is of critical importance in coffee. 1 The company continues to expand its reach by collaborating with brewers and chocolatiers as well as offering coffee to wholesale accounts throughout Colorado Springs.
Switchback Coffee Roasters sent me two coffees to try out and being that I’ve been getting so many Central American coffees of late (not complaining!) I went straight to the Ethiopia Guji Konjo. Before we get to the coffee, I must say that Switchback puts a lot of effort into their packaging! They use a nice black matte finish on the bags and the front has their logo with an understated gray coffee plant design in the background. A splash of color offsets the monochrome nicely to highlight the origin and then the main info is listed below. The side panels have various words and messages worked in, too, but the real surprise comes when you open the bag and see the inside printed with a photo of bright red coffee cherries! I really enjoyed this unexpected color and it’s such an easy way to remind people that they’re drinking what came from a fruit. Super cool. And, just like Cracker Jacks, there’s a coated paper card inside with a little bit of info about the coffee and the origin on it, too. Aces!
Today’s coffee is Switchback’s Guji Konjo, which is from the Sidama region of southern Ethiopia. Sidama is probably most known for sweet, clean, washed coffees. This coffee comes from a variety of smallholder farms growing heirloom varietals and working with the Konjo mill. This is a fully washed coffee grown at 1800-2000 meters above sea level (masl). Switchback puts a pretty light roast on this coffee and these mostly very small beans were definitely hard, giving me quite a workout on my hand grinder! Switchback says to expect flavors of, “peach, grapes and sugar cookie.” Yum!
I used my usual 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino pourover and my Handground grinder was set at 3.5. Sometimes really hard, dense beans like this will sort of choke the water flow through the filter, but to my surprise this one did not, so you may be able to get away with a slightly finer grind than that and pull out some different flavor notes. You get 12 ounces, so experiment!
Switchback aren’t lying when they call this coffee “dessert in a cup.” The aroma is really floral and it even smelled great while brewing, which is not always the case. I would call this a light-bodied coffee, maybe just on the border between light and medium. It is bright and clean, but the acidity isn’t a main player, for me. There is a light lemon note that hits my cheeks nicely, and this acidity climbs a little as the coffee cools down, but really for as bright and vibrant of a cup as this is, the acidity isn’t a main player in the flavor and I found that noteworthy. There is definitely peach in this cup, which I always love, and I was getting a hint of pineapple, too. The peachy sweetness with that little lemon note gave me a sense of the sweet-tart character of pineapple. The lemon ramps up for a flash at the end of the sip and then there’s a slightly sweet, but not at all cloying finish. The aftertaste for a cup this light is expectedly also relatively short-lived but offered some lingering notes of green grapes and, believe it or not, something very reminiscent of sugar cookie, now that I really dig into what I’m perceiving. Keep in mind, the mind is highly suggestible when it comes to flavors and I’m pretty I wouldn’t have picked out that aftertaste as sugar cookie on my own, but with that flavor in mind, it’s definitely there! LOL Coffee is so cool!
This is a really fantastic cup. It’s vibrant, clean and light but at the same time super delicious and “warm.” Sometimes washed Ethiopian coffees can be too tea-like for me and this one is not that, at all. This has everything I could ask for in a coffee from this part of Ethiopia and I love it!