"Colorful Coffees" is the slogan of Ruby Coffee Roasters, a very reputable roaster out of small town, Nelsonville, Wisconsin. I am long overdue to try Ruby, and they've been on my list for over a year now. When I got word that they offer a 4 x 12 ounce bag sampler pack for $60 shipped, I knew it was time. Ruby's coffees are not the cheapest out there by themselves, but they're always very highly regarded and well reviewed. So, anytime I can score $15 bags from a roaster of this level, I jump on the chance. You cannot select which coffees are in the sampler, but they do disclose what you're going to receive. The lineup looked solid, and was looking forward to trying all of them.
First up is Ethiopia Bokasso, a washed Heirloom varietal from the Sidama region of Ethiopia. Described by Ruby as, "This bursting, floral coffee from the Bokasso cooperative and has the signature tea-like, intoxicatingly-sweet qualities we love from this region." I tend to agree that this is an accurate assessment of washed Ethiopians particular to this region in general, and this one is no different. Admittedly, I struggled with this one a bit at first, since it is more tea like. It's very subtly nuanced and complex, but in the most soft spoken way. Once I stopped fighting that and embraced it, this coffee got better and better.
Brewed, this meant that weaker brew ratios actually allowed more of these very delicate notes come out. I tried very fine and coarse grinds, and hot and cool water (195*F to 205*F) to manipulate this coffee, and ultimately what helped the most was pushing the brew ratio out to 1 :17 or even 1 : 17.5. This meant the best cups, highlighting a spiced Earl Grey tea nose and finishing with the most subtle clean fruit notes were brewed at:
- 19 grams of coffee to 325 grams of 202*F water in the 02 size Hario V60
- 50 gram stirred bloom for 30 seconds
- Slow, steady pour to 175 grams, stir
- additional pours, maintaining that water level, for a total brew time around 3:00
As espresso, the coffee was easy to work with, and really changed flavors as it cooled. When hot, it was spiced and characteristic of black tea notes, with more and more subtle cocoa and fruit notes coming forward as the coffee cooled quite a bit. Somewhat un-characteristic of washed African single origin coffees, this one was both easy to work with, not needing an overly fine grind, and held up well in milk. Like a smoother, sweeter Earl Grey tea with milk, with an aftertaste that I can't quite put a finer on. It's nearly fruit sweetness, but not sure which fruit, but sweet and clean just the same. I preferred shots pulled pretty traditionally at:
- 18 grams in an 18 gram VST basket
- 36 grams out in 28 seconds at 200*F
Regularly $18.50 for a 12 ounce bag, and down to $15 for the bag when purchased as part of the 4 bag sampler, through Ruby's website, here. Overall, this coffee was a great introduction to Ruby's Colorful Coffees, really executing how a light roasted, washed Ethiopian coffee should taste. I'm very much looking forward to the others in the coming weeks.