2015 was my first year participating in an international “coffee Secret Santa” called Third Wave Wichteln. Wichteln is the German variation of Secret Santa, the doing of a good deed for someone else. Registering on the Third Wave Wichteln site is free and when it’s all said and done you receive an email a couple weeks before Christmas with a name and address somewhere in the world and you send them some high quality specialty coffee beans. A lot of people post photos and impressions on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for Third Wave Wichteln, which is a great way to see coffees from all over the world! And, if you’re a mail junkie like me, it’s a tense month as you eagerly run to the mailbox every day hoping to find an international package inside! It took my coffee roughly about a month to get to me but the box of two coffees I sent to Poland seemed to get there in a couple weeks.
Anyway, the coffee I received came from Joanne Lee, who lives in Malaysia, from one of her favorite local places, The Roast Things. The Roast Things is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They have a cafe there that seems to specialize in pourover and siphon brewing as well as educational workshops like public coffee cupping. The coffee I received from Joanne and The Roast Things is their Beloya, a natural coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. True to their philosophy about light roasting, the beans inside the minimalist white bag were roasted very lightly and they didn’t have much of a coffee-like aroma, but then again a month in international shipping can do some weird things to a coffee!
The Roast Things have an informative website and so for more details on this coffee we see it consists, of course, of mixed heirloom varietals (as is almost always the case from Ethiopian coffee, where thousands of varietals can be found) grown at 1950-2300masl. Beloya is a washing station in the Sidamo area near Yirgacheffe and natural coffees are those that are picked, sorted and dried with the coffee cherry still intact. This imparts sweetness, body and fruitiness to the coffee in your cup.
Finally, The Roast Things offer tasting notes of, “Blueberry cream, floral, honey, long sweet aftertaste” and the roaster’s notes say, “Solid clean Ethiopian coffee. No nonsense. Flavors transforms into more tropical fruits (think passionfruit and pineapple) as it rests. Its high elevation contributes to its everlasting sweet aftertaste, my favourite part of this coffee. Good on both filter and espresso.”
I have only tried this coffee as a 1:15 notNeutral Gino pourover using Kalita 185 white filters but it’s my goal to get it into the espresso machine this week for a spin, too! Because this coffee is a dense high-altitude bean and it is so lightly roasted, the grounds tend to sink to the bottom of the filter and it’s a pretty slow go in the dripper compared to a darker roast profile. That being said, very light coffees often benefit from longer contact with the brewing water since it’s a bit tougher to extract the good stuff out of harder and lighter-roasted beans. I didn’t see any untoward effect from a 4:30 brew time with this coffee.
This coffee brews a super light, clear, ruby-tinged color, looking more like a strongly brewed herbal tea than coffee, but I was happy to see it didn’t have any of that muddiness that a truly underroasted coffee usually has. The aroma on this Beloya natural is subtle and not in-your-face like naturals often can be. It hints at sweetness, florals and a bit of berry to come.
The flavor on this coffee is also a bit restrained and delicate for a natural, which I actually don’t mind. The floral notes from the aroma come through and play nicely with the hint of lime acidity in the cup. The overall profile is sweet and there is a little blueberry and raspberry in there, too. The acidity gets more pronounced in the cooler cup and there is a bit of bitterness in the finish, adding another note of complexity.
This is a nice natural, different from the profile I’ve come to expect from Ethiopia but more subtle and complex at the same time. I really enjoyed my TWW experience this year and the coffee that Joanne sent all the way from Malaysia!